Working with refugees is something that is near and dear to my heart. My heart broke for their suffering, but smiled for the gratitude they show up with everyday.
Last year, I was given the AMAZING opportunity to travel to Chios, Greece to work with the Nobel Peace Prize nominated organization:
Not only did I get the chance to go into the camps and see the realities of what refugees live in everyday, but I had the chance to teach them yoga.
I love teaching yoga, but I knew a few yoga classes were not enough.
So I decided it was time to take my yoga off the mat and into the world.
I created an online fundraiser through my online yoga community:
This is how I raised $1,000+ in one month for refugees:
Not only did I walk through those camps everyday, but I connected with the souls living in them. I created friendships with as many of them as possible.
After connecting, I asked them what they needed.
The answers saddened me.
They needed water, hygiene products, female products, milk for the babies and phones to connect to family members that they hoped were still alive.
These are things that I take for granted everyday.
They didn’t need ONE of these products though. They needed hundreds as there are between 1,000-4,000 people living in each camp.
The amount of people living in one tent in a refugee camp starts at 12.
Let that sink in.
12+ people have to live life day to day in one tent.
I couldn’t provide hundreds of products on my own in the short time that I had with the refugees, so I reached out to my online community.
I told them the circumstances, what is needed, and how they can help.
I created a page on my website through PayPal to accept donations. My goal was to raise $1,000.00 in one month.
I worked SO hard.
I sent out newsletters every week with photos I took of the refugees and the camps, a list of what is needed, and what the money donated will go to.
I posted on social media 2-5 times a day updating my online community on the progress and what is still needed.
I made phone calls and sent emails to organizations all over the world asking them to donate clothing and shoes.
I created a multilingual yoga and meditation handout (photos included) with the help of friends.
One man in particular needed a cell phone to contact his family to see if they were still alive.
I found an art studio in the heart of Chios that was a safe space for refugees to go and express themselves. I taught yoga there for two weeks.
I opened our doors for people from all over the world. Not only was it an honor to teach them yoga, but it was an honor to witness them smiling and still showing up for themselves when life was upside down.
The Last Week
I was $79 away from making my $1000 goal.
I posted one more time on Facebook and then went to bed.
I woke up the next day and read the numbers on my Paypal account:
Not only did my online community donate MORE than my $1,000 goal, but that was THEM taking their yoga off the mat and into the world. That was THEM holding space for a cause they once thought they had no control over. That was THEM showing up, just like the refugees show up everyday.
52 Care Packages Containing:
Toothbrushes ♦ Toothpaste ♦ Bars of Soap
Water Bottles ♦ Baby Wipes ♦ Baby Powder
Feminine Hygiene Products ♦ Bandaids ♦ Baby Milk Formula
Multilingual Yoga & Meditation Handouts
Two Entertainment Nights ♦ An Entire Backpack Full of Medical Supply
Two Weeks of Yoga ♦ A Class Worth of Yoga Mats
One Cell Phone
I still cry about this. I will never forget the look on that man’s face when I gave him that phone and the hug he gave me.
As a yoga teacher there will be moments in your classes that will touch your soul forever. This was my moment. The refugees live the hardest lives possible and they smile everyday, because they are still here.
I invite you to show up with that same gratitude in everything you do.
So let the injustice in the world break your heart wide open.
Then take your yoga off the mat and impact the world with it!
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Brytta is a world traveling yoga instructor from NYC. She is a lover of glitter, SUP Yoga and climbing waterfalls. When she's not adventuring around the world and teaching yoga, she's writing about her adventures and coming up with new ways to take her yoga off the mat and into the world! When she's not doing any of that, she's outside studying constellations and making wishes on shooting stars. A big fan of discovering new poetry, her current favorite poets are: Rupi Kaur, Jeff Brown and Carlos Andres Gomez.