The first thing that comes up to your mind, what is the link between Yoga and humanitarian activities? It was the first time I hear about Yoga Activism when Shayma defined it to me with full excitement after 3al Autostrad humanitarian day with refugees that took place on May 7th 2016 in one of the Syrian refugee camps at Beqaa Valley – Lebanon.
Shayma and Sharon, Yoga teachers with their friend Myrna had a strong eager to do something for humanity, specifically with Syrian refugees in Lebanon. I met Sharon couple of months ago to introduce her to Humanwire. It was a cold rainy Thursday evening after her Yoga class at Shiva Lila Yoga Space. We brainstormed together many ideas until we came up with a good one which is to choose one camp and specify their needs and wants. Throughout the follow ups, I was astonished by the excitement and motivation the three ladies had to make this event happens. Our target was a small camp which includes 10 tents with around 15 families.
Four months later, everything we planned for was ready for the big day. By everything I mean pretty enough food parcels, bread boxes, hygiene kits, brand new clothes, toys, colors and coloring books for kids to sustain them for minimum two months.
Our day started with a meet and greet between the refugee families and the organizers, volunteers as well as friends. Toys and brand new clothes were distributed to the kids. Looking through the kids eyes while hearing their names to receive toys and clothes bags was completely a different happiness perspective.
The peak time was when all the kids gathered around Shayma to participate in a basic Yoga session. The scene was indescribable! It was like the kids were waiting such kind of activities to release their energy. Everyone was counting, smiling and enjoying the session. “During and after the event the feeling was priceless, cannot express it” Shayma says. “I have always wanted to do any kind of humanitarian work. But I got really inspired and decided to do something when I was introduced to Yoga Activism” she added.
Humanwire’s minivan arrived with food parcels, bread and hygiene kits. Volunteers from Salam NGO, organizers and friends all worked together to make sure every family get its parcels. Myrna took the lead in carrying boxes and she seemed tired less and extremely happy. Later on she grabbed the opportunity to do a face painting session for kids and draw giggles on their angelic faces. “3al autostrad was not an event, it was a life changing experience.” Myrna says. “The purpose was designed as an aid program for the refugees, raising funds to provide them with the necessary supplies they need, preparing a long day to be spent with the families and kids entertaining them and maybe put a smile on each of their faces and so it was.”
Belime band joined us and began to play music. They absolutely added a sweet taste to the atmosphere; everyone was singing and dancing. Sharon was entertaining the kids eventually all the day. “I felt that by being at the camp, surrounded by all these refugees, I was not wasting oxygen on earth – on contrary, I was actually making a difference because helping others in always possible. It is the most genuine and rewarding feeling ever! 3al Austostrad is just the beginning!” She said.
Lunch time has arrived and refugees were ready to grab their plates. We have distributed enough food portions per each family. A unique incident grabs everyone’s attention, most of them refused to eat until the rest of the family members are gathered. This action touched us and taught us a moral that family comes first, no matter in which situation we are.
Group images, selfies and videos were a must before saying goodbye to cherish and save the moments. “None of the event organizers nor of the volunteers who participated wanted to leave” Myrna said. This event is planned to occur on yearly basis. Join the folk and follow your heart. In humanity we are one.