Some Things

While I am eating my last ‘Stroopwafel’ imported from Holland by myself, I write another blog entry. I just had one package and ate them very mindfully. That way i could enjoy this sugary sweetness up until the day of today, here in Rwanda!

Early this morning. Concentration level was low, the Love level very high. The women at Ineza where the sweetest today, although they couldn’t be still during yoga class. I taught them this morning, these ladies are so precious.

After that class, I taught the adolescents group.
Their concentration level is very very high and their relaxation level… gone. They seem to push themselves so hard to be ‘good’, my task in class is to find ways to slow them down, relax, smile, breath, enjoy, learn… the opposite from what happened this morning at Ineza, I had to move them into Yoga by motivate them and find creative ways to start by make them be still. One would make a sound, all would laugh. Over and over… and loud!
Which is fine. i am sure there is a reason for their lack of concentration today, they have no easy lives. Poverty, HIV..etc.. And probably my energy had something to do with it as well, i felt a little sad today, they were restless but very sweet. If I see peace in Savasana and after that bright smiles, and woman who thank eachother to share their yoga, I do feel happy.

One of the adolescents (Aimable, the boy left on the photo, who will become a future local yogateacher, he was just asked last week by me if he was interested in starting training for that, he smiled brightly and said: “Yes! i feel very ready for that!” -sweet!-) asked me after class: ” Anneke, you make pictures of us, that way you will always remember us. We don’t have camera’s how do we remember you?” I replied that they can do, every morning 5 rounds of Sun Salutations in their houses.. that way they would remember me! They smiled an knodded, that seemed like a good idea. I hope so…
After the morning Ineza class I bought a few cute little ‘heart-shaped’ bags from them. And a yoga-mat bag. Truly fair trade. These ladies making bags all day, that’s their job. (click here to see the profiles of the ladies)
We-act is facilitating these opportunities (WE-ACTx, the NGO that works with HIV+woman, we work with very closely as well).

After this morning, i was busy busy making many arrangements in, around and at the program here. My guard here, Damascene, he’s very sweet, he became my good friend, since it’s just him and me now in the house at the moment. He speaks a little bit English (i am teaching him English) and a little bit French and Kenyarwandan off course. So, we kinda made our own language. A mix of English and French words, a small selection, and Kenyarwandan words, again, a small selection but then from my part). Here in Rwanda, Damascene seems to understand me very good. It’s very interesting. We talk very much, without knowing each others language. He pays very good attention though (next to his work, he has a busy job here in the house and does that in an excellent way), he seems to feel very well what i mean or need. A little example this, very cute:
Today after yoga in the afternoon, in my very busy schedule, I was planning on going to buy some souvenirs, like a wooden mask or something. I know there is a market close by. So I asked Damasecene to go with me, since I don’t know exactly here it is, and he does.
“Yego!!” he off course answered. He’s always in the mood to come with me for some fun. But, then when i arrived home from teaching yoga, i saw that the market was in front of the house! When I was gone, he went to the market by himself, to see the prices. He saw it was crazy expensive and decided to ask one of these guys to come to the house if they were interested to make some money.. And that’s what happened. The market man with his son and a few others and all his wooden statues, dolls, masks etc. were in front of my house, on the street. Sweet! That was just what i needed after a crazy and busy day like today… Then they didn’t have the mask i liked, so Damascene and I explained what i was looking for ( a few things) and tomorrow morning before yoga, the guy comes back with things i might like. Easy for me, good business without competition for him. Good prices that way for both of us, everybody happy.

After dinner, this same Damascene showed interest in the yogamat laying there and tried to get into a yoga posture. Before we knew i was teaching him a complete yoga class. He was unstoppable. The more acrobatic, the better.. off course. I had to slow him down. But his excitement for yoga was nice to see. Hope he will continue to learn this… tomorrow i will teach him more. Sun-salutation in the right way to start with. On the picture, Damascene on, probably, the first Downward Facing Dog of his whole life! (a moment to treasure) But i suspect not the last one.

Also, very clearly we’re getting closer and closer to election date. Many helicopters in the air during he day, because.. who knows! And posters and other campaign material everywhere!Rwanda's President And that’s that.

Also today was a sad day for some of us. I feel very sorry about that. The bad news Stijn told me yesterday, that Maria died in Spain. My thoughts were with them all day…. A day crazy and very very sad with sparkles of Love from the beautiful people here, came to an end… Goodnight!

Anneke x


Muraho Ineza

Very Good Day

It means. In Rwanda it is very much appreciated when you speak a few Kinyarwanda (this is the language spoken here) words. Most people know what ‘Hello, how are you’ in English means, and in my experience they do react respectfully on that. But if you speak some words in Kinyarwanda, the reaction is very different. It seems to open the conversation up, they seem more willing to talk with you. In Yoga class is necessary to speak some words Kinyarwanda. Deirdre can do that well, and i am practicing right now. I have a list of most used words in Yoga, all the body parts, moves (left, right, straight, bend etc.), words like Inhale, Exhale, left, right, count to ten etcetera.

My day started fine. I took my time to wake up. Then went upstairs to the Yoga room in the house and did my practice. Nice it felt, my muscles like this lovely practice. I stretched and found my limitations, went over there a little but i was conscious of not hurting myself. Pushing and pulling, pain and struggling… that’s no Yoga. I am preparing the class i am going to teach this afternoon (all by myself this time).
Again in a church with a group of woman who are suffering from the effects of domestic violence and HIV. Should i teach them suffer even more? We want to teach them how to become strong. Strong from the inside, strong in their own bodies. We teach them how to find balance in themselves and feel their own bodies. Become aware of themselves, their strengths and powers. Love their bodies, Love themselves.
I thought about the way we sometimes practice yoga in the West. No one in the world needs to or should suffer in yoga practice, but still… we sometimes do. Competition can he high, faces look scared, bodies are in pain… frustration arises, Love flows off and even hate can come in. We would skip Asana (posture) because we don’t like them. They hurt us, they are annoying or painful. They may annoy us because we cannot do them as ‘well’ as we would like, or we cannot do them as ‘well’ as the people in the magazines can.
It’s not the posture who does that to us, we do it do ourselves. Our mind does. We push ourselves too hard and forget how to smile. We scare ourselves by dropping into postures too fast when we are just not ready. It’s not the posture that is scary (example back drop in Urdhva Dhanurasana) but we sometimes make it scary by going too fast. Be aware of your fear, embrace the stiff leg, Love your short hamstrings… they will grow, trust them. Be patient. The ladies here in Rwanda need kindness. Like anybody does everywhere.

Be kind to yourself. That way we can be kind to others.

Hawaiian proverb means: Love gives life within.
Love is imperative to one’s mental, physical, emotional and spiritual welfare. A kind word can melt the hardest heart. Look at a situation with love. It changes everything.


Learn how to greet in Kinyarwanda

Also today: I taught another class, all by myself i went there with my little paper with Kinyarwanda notes on it. The ladies were great today. They did giggle now and then, when my pronunciation wouldn’t be correct. But that’s good actually, we want them to smile, giggle and even laugh out loud now and then, since there are not many places for these women to laugh outside of this mat… do it!
After class they got one hard boiled egg, one glass of milk and one banana. This way they get back some the calories the lost in the yoga practice which they need badly. Cosy it was to sit with them and eat an egg. I like these women!

After class, i got home and remembered that yesterday i promised the guy in the little store at the end of the street, that i would return the Sprite bottle after i finished it. So that’s what i did. What i found very interesting and funny to share was their recycle system.
In Holland we pay something like 25 cents extra for every bottle of drinks we buy. After you finished the bottle, you bring it back to the store and you will get your 25ct back. Fine system, good for the environment, Well here, i found out, they have same kind of system. When i returned the bottle i got back the same amount of money that i paid extra when i bought it, but also the same banknote! The same one with a paper stitched on it. The man of the store had to check the drawer full of banknotes to find mine with a note stitched on it. Funny i thought. Here’s a picture of my note: