Monday, July 20, 2009

Yoga for kids in Liberia

While I'm trying to set up teaching a kids' yoga class in my Monrovia apartment, moving the furniture back classroom-style and charging a fruit or a vegetable, my small band of boy followers tracked me down last weekend and followed me back to the campsite, from which Nate had recently banished them.

"Can I follow you?" one of the small boys, Morris, asked me as I passed underneath the almond tree between Nana's Lodge and the campsite.


"Can I follow you?" another one piped in, imitating the other one.

"Yes," I shot back, knowing what was coming next.

"Can I follow you?"

"Can I follow you?"

"Can I follow you?"

"Yes, yes, yes," I answered, not looking back and making my way through the sand.

"Hey Pied Piper," Nate called, from where he was disassembling the tent. "I just kicked them out -- for you to bring them back already?"

It's true that small children around make packing up camp almost impossible. They eagerly catch anything they perceive you might not want: twine for the washing line, empty water bottles we try to reuse, surf wax stuck to the tree. 

"I need that," I always say, taking things back. We can't forever be buying new kit for the campsite, nor can small children assume that guests' packing up means freebie time. It's bad for business.

Last weekend, Nate packed up as I stood looking at the five of them, wondering what I'd gotten myself into. 

"You teach them," Nate said. "I'll pack up camp." Brilliant. 

This is how I found myself giving my third official yoga class to the boys at Robertsport. They're really into the balancing poses, especially the ones where you can grab your friend and have them fall on top of you. "Strong! Strong!" they kept calling to me, switching to the local Vai now and then when they were particularly pleased with one another's progress.

Once we move to Robertsport, I'm starting a Girls' Club where we'll have all-girls yoga classes, after-school peer tutoring and income-generating activities. For now, it's me and my boys, trying not to get sand in our eyes.


  1. I love that photo Elie! Can you send it to me, please? Those boys will forever remember you for those yoga classes and much more... way to inspire! I cannot wait to see what comes with time...


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