Lake Tahoe Yogaand Journeys Within Our Community created smiles this February.  Twelve visitors from Lake Tahoe traveled to Cambodia to donate supplies, energy and financial donations.  The focus of our projects at JWOC were to see the effects of our in-kind donations as well as to make further donations of school supplies and, of course, yoga.  We had no idea that we were going to receive, as well.

Our first day at JWOC was spent meeting and greeting.  Sarah, Tom and Navi showed us around the grounds.  We were impressed when we learned that the program was only 8 years old and had grown so significantly already.  All of us were enthused to help out during the English conversation class.  What an experience to be able to learn about local Khmer and help them to develop stronger English speaking skills!  All of us enjoyed sitting down, some one-to-one and others in groups to engage in casual conversation.  We asked and answered questions about our family life, favorite foods, experiences and more.

For our second day, we both gave and received.   Our morning began with a trip to the countryside.  We had learned, while in Phnom Penh, that many people had been displaced to the countryside during the Pol Pot Regime (Khmer Rouge).  The people living in the countryside are poor in material goods but rich in family and community.  Each “city” is referred to as a family.  While visiting, we were welcomed in as though we were one with them.

JWOC has been working to teach the communities in the countryside how to create sustainable gardens.  Due to their distance from the city and low means, they are unable to purchase the foods and materials that others have.  By learning to grow and maintain their own gardens, they can sustain themselves, their families and the community in which they live.  JWOC’s efforts include using a “teaching garden,” to help people learn about seeding, liquid and solid manure (all organic) and transplanting techniques in order to continually maintain growth.

[A Khmer woman shows off her “long beans.”  She was so proud of her garden, she couldn’t stop laughing while she showed us around.]

[A JWOC scholarship student and volunteer shows us the liquid fertilizer at a teaching garden.]

After our tour of the gardens, it was our turn to give.  We had been invited to help out during the art class and had arranged for something special.  Sixty or so children joined us for a short yoga practice.  The children demonstrated an incredible balance of fun and focus.  Amidst giggles, they mimic our yoga poses perfectly and, with patience, they listened to a story.

[The children listen to The Mitten, read by Jenay]

For the craft activities, the JWOC team separated the children into groups based upon age.  Young children cut out paper snowflakes.  Older children read letters from children in Lake Tahoe and wrote their own to send in return.  The rest worked on making Borax snowflakes – they won’t see the results of their project for a few days as the water needs to evaporate.  We look forward to receiving photos of their crystallized snowflake.

Jenay, E-RYT, is the director at Lake Tahoe Yoga.  She lives an active life-style and seeks Yoga in everything she does.

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