Nairobi, Kenya – Yoga has grown increasingly popular among the poorest neighbourhoods in the capital thanks to Paige Elenson and her partner Baron Baptiste, two American yoga teachers who established the not-for-profit organisation Africa Yoga Project in 2007.
Their goal was to create job opportunities and empower youth in impoverished areas of Nairobi. The two teachers raised $10,000 to found the organisation and train 40 Kenyan yoga instructors. Today, 72 instructors are working in poor areas of Kenya, including at schools and prisons.
Margaret Njeri is one of the teachers. She was an acrobat before starting the yoga-training programme. The young mother says earning a living as an acrobat was not easy. She sometimes even had to turn to petty crime to survive. She is now paid $100 a month to teach five classes a week in prisons, schools and other parts of the city. The rest of the time, Njeri teaches private classes to round up her salary. Thanks to yoga, she is now able to support herself and her one-year-old daughter.
Instructor Samson Muhalia, 53, says yoga has a positive impact on people. “What I really like in yoga is that it brings people together and teaches them how live together. It makes people share and discuss.”