Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Haiti Beads

"The warm midday sun is shining in the clear blue sky and the Haitian school kids, dressed in matching uniforms, are walking home from school down the dirt roads. Some kids walk for up to two hours just to get to and from school. Every day is a half day for school kids in Haiti. The schools are so over-crowded because there are so many kids and so few school rooms to fit them. There are no organized after-school activities like clubs, scouts, dance or gymnastics. Some play soccer with a ball made out of rags in an open lot. Some play cards or dominoes if they have them. Many will sit around in the street and entertain each other with stories or songs acting as each others TVs...that's only if there is no work to be done at home...but there is always work to be done.
The house always needs water so that mother can cook and clean. There is no running water, so kids will carry a 5-gallon bucket to the nearest pump and fill it for their mother. Then they go back to the well with another bucket and carry it home, usually on their heads, so that they can bathe that evening. You stand behind your house, behind a bush to take your bath from a bucket. Many folks bathe out in the open with a pair of shorts. You rinse, you lather, you rinse again, and then dry off…then change into dry shorts. You can also find kids working in the gardens or chopping wood for the fires. If they have the chance, they will watch a tradesman while he does his craft to learn tips and tricks so that they may be an artist one day. Being an artist in Haiti, is like being a doctor or a lawyer in America. It is a well respect job to have that takes talent and skill. It is how most Haitians make their money. Sometimes when money is tight, which is almost always the case, and you don't have a trade to rely on, parents may chose to take their kids out of school, because in Haiti you must pay to go to school. It's a tough decision to make, especially if you want to get an education. So some kids learn a craft early on. One of the most popular...bead making. It is a great way for Haitians to use their resources, whatever they have around them or found on the streets...used cereal boxes cut up into strips and a stick to spin a bead.

There is a boy named Eddie. He is 14 years old and in grade 4. Eddie says, "I enjoy school and am getting good at English. I have one brother and two sisters. We live with our mother in a tent. Since our father left, it has been hard for my mother, so I am grateful for the chance to make some beads and sell them to help support my family. I love my mother more than any other person in this world."

There is a girl named Duprene. She is 11 yrs old and also in grade 4. Duprene says, "I am excellent in English and recently got an award for my English writing. One day I would like to become an interpreter. I live in a tent with my mother and three sisters. One of my sisters is disabled, and my father past away when I was five. I am working hard to make beautiful beads to raise money for my mother. Some days we cannot eat when there is no food, so any money I make helps."

Doing what you can with what you have is sometimes the only way for Haitians to survive - to fill their bellies, to keep a roof over their head, to keep clothes on their backs. And while they may have very little, they have strong spirits and big hearts. They do the best they can every day. That's all any of us can do."
After sitting in meditation, visualizing what it might be like to be a child in Haiti, thirteen of Alluem's young yogis between the ages of 10 and 12 came together to learn how to make beads out of cardboard, just as the children in Haiti do. I was able to share this trade with my students after my visit to Sonje Ayiti on my December Trip to Haiti with The Village Experience. I met a group of teenagers who welcomed me and my group into the new chicken coup, serving as their temporary studio, where they were diligently working on beautiful pieces of art made from up-cycled materials - beads, jewelry, ornaments, bags - truely amazing work. The teenagers were patient enough to teach us just how these pieces were made. With patience and persistence, I got the hang of spinning the cardboard into small beads and I absolutely loved it!! I knew I would have to share it with my students when I returned! 
As I watched my students take the time to sit and listen and learn about the culture and artistry of Haiti, I saw them gain a little more awareness and focus. They were determined to sit and try to spin the beads over and over. Some catching on right away...other struggling a bit, but not giving up! By the end of the hour and a half, I could see a sense of accomplishment on their face, a feeling of peace in their hearts and an awareness they may never forget. 
A great big THANK YOU to my friends at Sonje Ayiti! They are doing amazing work to empower their community and improving living standards of children and families through solidarity! Click here to learn more: Sonje Ayiti

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Summer Yoga Camp!

Summer Yoga Camp dates are here and registration is open!!! 
Register online- - workshops tab 
$180 per kid
(ask about our sibling discount!)

Alluem Kids Camp (ages 7-9yrs) - July 8th-11th - 2:30-5:30pm
At Camp Alluem Kids, children will enjoy an afternoon of yoga, meditation, breathing and relaxation techniques in a safe, nurturing, non-competitive atmosphere. This summer allow your child to learn about taking their practice off the mat and into the world. As we strengthen our bodies on the mat, we strengthen also our minds and our hearts. Yoga is more then just the poses - it's also about giving back - to ourselves, to each other, and to the world. Let them connect with nature by the river, with each other through partner poses and games, and with themselves through journaling, crafts, and of course yoga! $180/child~includes classes, crafts, journal and tee-shirt! 

Off the Mat Kids Camp (ages 10-12yrs) - July 22nd-25th - 2:30-5:30pm 
This summer why not learn how you can make a difference in this world. Off the Mat Kids Camp will teach the young yogi more about service and taking their yoga OFF the mat. Yoga is more than just the's about finding peace, giving back when you can and being the example to help make the world a better place. (4 yogi minimum, 10 yogi maximum) $180/child~includes classes, journal and tee-shirt! 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Hearts for the Homeless

Today's opening meditation:
"Eleven-year-old Devin eyes blink open in the back room of a suburban church. The clock reads 5 a.m. when his mother whispers that it's time to get up. His little sister and brother stir in their cots next to him. Two trash bags filled with the family's clothes are stashed in the corner; a tube of toothpaste, an alarm clock, a bottle of shampoo, and schoolbooks line the only table. For five days this has been home. In three more he will move again, to another church, to another cot in another room.
'Being homeless,' the fifth-grader explains, 'means you don't stay in one spot and have to move around a lot. It gets kind of confusing.'....
Devin pads sleepily into the church fellowship hall to fill a cereal bowl and finish a book report. He didn't get his homework done the evening before because it was shower night. Every other night the family is driven by church volunteers to a neighborhood rec center so they can use the locker rooms. The friendly boy with cropped blond hair and piercing eyes has switched schools eight times since kindergarten, moving from apartments to motels to shelters to friends' houses. He doesn't much like school, except for math. He wishes he could have sleepovers like the other kids....
'The church is okay, but I wish we had a house,' Devin says. He longs for a room to decorate with sports posters. His 9-year-old sister, Sierra, sometimes gets scared when they move; his 6-year-old brother, Conner, gets clingy....
Just before 6 a.m. the family of five steps into the predawn darkness to catch the series of buses that will take the kids to school. It is 75 minutes each way. Their mother gets off the bus with her kids at school to make sure they are on time. She has never missed a parent-teacher conference. After school she'll be there again. There's one things she always makes sure her kids know - that no matter what, they'll always have each other. They'll always be a family. And Devin knows this. So everyday before he leaves for school, he tells her he loves her." (To read the full article, visit: Homeless in the Suburbs)
Imagine for a moment what it would be like to live like Devin. To never know where you may sleep next, to have to move from place to place with only a garbage bag full of your belongings, to not have a room to call your own. Imagine for a moment you were homeless. What would that feel like? There are way too many kids just like Devin homeless in the US.
I like to believe home is in your heart. Who we are, what we love, the people in our lives, the things that make us happy, what makes us feel comfortable. When we find comfort in something, anything, we find that sense of home. The one things I pray for when I think of kids like Devin, is that where ever they go - be it a shelter, temporary housing, a church or school - is that they may find comfort, that they may find love, that they may find hope - so that they may find a home in their heart. Think about what message you would like to send these kids and their families. Messages of peace and hope and love.
Keep your heart open to those who have less, but who's hearts are open to receive love. Don't be sad or have pity. Have empathy. Be understanding of what it might be like. Think of what you can do to help - even if it is as simple as a Valentine's Day message. Little things make a big difference. And always be grateful for all you have in this life.

After reflecting and moving through a heart opening class, the Alluem Kids came together to make some inspirational Valentine's that will be strung to hang as Valentine's Day decorations at the Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless. Alluem Yoga's Yoga in Action group will be hosting this year's Valentine's Day Party at St. Joseph's Soup Kitchen in Elizabeth, NJ....bringing the families dinner, dessert, favors, games and a sense of comfort. And love. We are so blessed to be a part of this evening with an amazing group of people. To spend time together and make true human connections. And the messages from the Alluem Kids will be the icing on the cake. So heart warming and comforting.

Friday, February 8, 2013

What you love will always be with you.

Happy Snow Day, friends! We love snow! Sledding, snow angels, fort making, snowballs! Endless fun! And it looks like there will be enough snow to make a new friend! Snowman making! But we all know snow doesn't last forever. Days pass by and what we create, starts to melt...even the amazing sculptures outside that home on Springfield Ave. in Cranford - I mean, have you seen these snow sculptures?! Holy cow!! But, inevitably, they melt and we must let go.
In prep for the expected blizzard this weekend, the Alluem Kids had a mini lesson on love and learning to let go. In "Making a Friend", Alison McGhee's heart warming story about a boy and his snowman friend, we learn that nothing that you open your heart to and care deeply for can ever disappear for good. "What you love will always be with you." You never forget your best snowman friend...he is with you in the spring fog, in the summer rain, in the fall frost, in a new winter’s snow—and always, always in your heart.
Spend some time with the ones you love. Take time to really BE with your family. Create some heart warming memories in the snow and take lots of pictures!! Snow-ga anyone??