Yoga helping refugees

Posted on: 7th March, 2017

Category: Features

Contributor: West Cork People

West Cork yoga teachers Claire Osborne and Bella Hancock will be returning to the Middle East with the Yoga Mandela Project in March, where they will be offering yoga classes and yoga therapy in refugee communities.

The Yoga Mandela Project is a non-profit organisation that provides psycho-social support and wellbeing through the physical and mental health benefits of yoga to those displaced by war and conflict.

As well as volunteering as yoga teachers within refugee communities, working in partnership with local community organisations in the Middle East, Europe and Ireland, Claire and Bella are also working to establish sustainable volunteer programmes with teachers in each locality, by providing training for teachers and community support workers in trauma informed yoga practice, teaching and protocol.yoga 1

In March, the yoga teachers will be working directly with people affected by war and conflict, visiting Zaartri and Asraq camps.

“On my last visit, a woman who works with the UN and International Red Cross sat in on one my classes,” says Claire. “She just suddenly started crying. After a time, she was able to explain that in all her experience working with refugees around the world, she had never seen a group of traumatised people so peaceful, as in that class.”

Based on their experience working with refugees over the last three years, Claire and Bella and another experienced yoga teacher and project member Susan Bainter-Baghdadi will be running training workshops for yoga teachers and healthcare professionals who wish to develop an understanding of trauma, it’s psycho-social implications and how yoga can be used to help manage and minimise its effects.

“The training is based on our experience bringing yoga and TRE (trauma release exercise) to Refugees in Amman, Jordan through the Collateral Repair Project, and in Greece through Lifting Hands International,” says Claire.

“This will be a valuable experience for those who have worked with refugees and have experienced secondary trauma and wish to have tools to help manage their own experience, as well as learning skills to bring into the field.”

The Yoga Mandela Project is in the process of registering as a charity and has started a fundraising campaign to help with the set up costs, as well as developing sustainable training programmes in Jordan and Palestine, delivering one-to-one yoga therapy to individual refugees in Amman; and also setting up links with groups providing psycho-social support in refugee camps in Jordan, with a view to delivering training programmes in self care to their volunteers, as well as simple holistic health care programmes for refugees.

“We have seen and been amazed by the positive impact our work has had so far. Whether it is by supporting volunteers, or working with the refugee community, people have been profoundly and positively impacted by the tools we offer.”

If you would like to make a donation to the Yoga Mandela Project go to www.generosity.com/volunteer-fundraising/yoga-for-refugees-in-jordan.

To follow the group’s progress, go to Yoga Peace Mandala – supporting refugees with Yoga on Facebook.

Pictured above: The Yoga Mandela Project is a non-profit organisation that provides psycho-social support and wellbeing through the physical and mental health benefits of yoga to those displaced by war and conflict.

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Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition 23 February 2018

The inaugural Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition will take place in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen this Friday 23rd February. As part of Engineers Week 2018, leaders and members of Ballineen Foróige Club have organised an exhibition which will showcase a diverse and exciting range of engineering projects that have been undertaken by members of the club over the last few weeks, with the aid of leaders and a number of local engineers.

With the aid of local pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, along with the support of STEAM Education, a UCC based company focused on promoting science, technology, engineering, arts, and maths subjects in primary schools, Ballineen Foróige has been engaging members and leaders in all things engineering over the last six weeks. From researching, designing, and prototyping a project based on local problems, to participating in various workshops on coding and careers in engineering, Ballineen Foróige have been extremely busy in preparation for the exhibition this coming Friday night.

On the night itself, Michael Loftus, Head of Engineering at CIT, Fintan Goold, Manager at Eli Lilly and All-Ireland Cork winning Footballer, along with Geraldine Coughlan of GCA Architects & Designers, a local business, will act as judges on the night, evaluating the different engineering projects and offering some advice to the members of the club. Also in attendance will be the CEO of Foróige Seán Campbell, along with a number of local councillors, TD’s and Senators.

Leading the team of Ballineen Foróige leaders organising the event, is Rebecca Dwyer, a bioprocess engineer at Eli Lilly. Rebecca recently became a leader in the club and says that Ballineen Foróige Young Engineer Exhibition 2018 “promises to be a fun, challenging and rewarding experience for all involved and we look forward to welcoming parents, relatives, friends and members of the public to the exhibition and film screening on the evening of Friday 23rd February.” Overall, there are twelve projects entered in the exhibition. One project, led by Cian Kennefick and Charlie Nolan, members of the starting out club, examines the possibility of installing speed ramps on the road near local primary school. Fourteen-year-old Charlie says he got involved in the project as it was something to do and it gets you thinking. Cian says the most exciting part of the project was the building of the prototypes.

Both Cian and Charlie, along with thirty other members of the club will display their projects this coming Friday 23 February in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen. Doors open at 8pm and the event runs until 10pm. All are welcome to attend, and admission is free. Catering, including tea and coffee, will be provided on the night.
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