Saturday, February 22, 2014


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It's been a very hectic week at work and in my life, but I've been keeping up with my yoga! I've made it to the studio on most days, but I've been struggling with my left knee. My Power Yoga practice has been suffering because of some swelling and irritation, so I've had to scale back my efforts on my mat. On the days when my work schedule has prevented me from taking a class in person, I've relied upon my Gaiam TV subscription to get my yoga in. The theme of my 40 Days program this week was Restoration -- so on the days when I've felt extra tired, I've relaxed with some yin yoga and restorative poses, and I even took a nap one afternoon, which is something I almost never do. 

Despite my fatigue, there have been some powerful stories in the media this week in regard to the crisis of Syrian refugees. Malala Yousafzai, the brave Pakistani teen who was shot by the Taliban for daring to go to school, and who is now a tireless campaigner for girls' education around the world, visited the border between Jordan and Syria this week. In this video, you can see Malala and her father as they watch new refugees crossing the border, fleeing the civil war in Syria. 

Some of those new refugees no doubt have wound up in Za'atari, the largest camp in Jordan. (In fact, the camp is so large that it is now the fourth most populous city in Jordan.) The camp is overseen by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Jordanian government, and relies on many non-governmental organizations for its daily operations, including the International Rescue Committee--the organization for which I'm fundraising with his challenge. The IRC has many roles in the camp, and some of its primary focuses are the protection of women and girls from domestic violence and stranger exploitation, children's education, and employment training. This week, I read an inspiring photo journalism piece about women of the camp and how they find ways to create meaningful lives while they live in the limbo of being refugees from their homes. This photo in particular struck me: 

Photo by Rena Effendi
Original caption: "More than half of Zaatari's population is under 18. These kids, making their way home from school, are some of the 60,000 children who call the camp home."

When I look at this photo, I see the horrible conditions in which these children are living. However, I also see the commitment they, their families, and organizations like the IRC have to maintain their educational development, despite their displacement. These children, just like Malala, inspire me beyond words. They are not allowing inhumane circumstances to strip their humanity from them. It leaves me humbled. 

In keeping with this theme, there was a viral video blowing up social media this week from Norway, about a boy who had no coat, freezing at bus stops around Oslo. Shot using a child actor and hidden cameras, it illustrated that most people wanted to help the boy, and many even gave him the coats off their own backs. Here is the video:

The video was created by an organization, SOS Children's Villages Norway, to encourage people to give to a campaign to raise money for winter cold relief among freezing children in Syria and the surround countries' refugee camps. It makes a powerful statement about what happens when we are confronted face-to-face with suffering. Even the smallest acts can make a difference in a person's life. This is what has kept me going with my yoga challenge, even as I've had some moderate pain over the past couple of weeks. I want to make a small difference in a few people's lives. I encourage you to consider donating to my fundraiser, sharing it on social media and among your friends, and doing what you can to make a difference as well. I truly believe that we are all part of a one world human family, and we need to look out for one another. This is my small way to try to help. Thank you for your support!

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