"Give a man a fish, and you'll feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you've fed him for a lifetime."
- Chinese proverb
The OMPowerment Project’s mission is to empower refugees to lead themselves and members of their communities in the healing practice of trauma informed yoga.
Yoga is effective for alleviating mental, physical and emotional stress. Refugees worldwide have long benefited from yoga but access to the practice has been dependent on volunteer availability. By empowering refugees to teach and lead themselves, this healing practice can continue regardless of volunteer skillsets and availability.
Our purpose is to promote community-led leadership by offering refugee communities the capacity to teach themselves - teaching a man to fish, instead of feeding him for a day.
In January 2017, The OMPowerment Project's founder, Julia Midland, spent a few weeks in northern Greece volunteering with the refugee effort. One of the things she did was to teach two yoga classes a day to women and children in one of the camps. She witnessed first-hand the profound affect this practice had on the participants and how much they enjoyed it. She says:
“As I prepared to leave Greece, I was filled with a deep sadness that my leaving would mean that these individuals would no longer be able to practice until another yoga teacher happened to volunteer in the same area. This led to the idea to empower the refugees themselves by teaching them the basics of leading a class so that this healing practice could continue regardless of volunteer skillsets and availability.”
WHAT WE DO
The OMPowerment Project provides free, week-long trainings that equip refugee men and women with the skills to create a safe space in their communities, free of labels and judgement, in which they and members of their communities can relieve anxiety and build confidence and self-esteem.
With the help and support of several of our friends and teachers, we have developed a training program, written a manual that has been translated into Arabic and Burmese, and delivered four trainings in three countries.
This is not a typical 200-hour teacher training as the length of time required to complete such training would be unrealistic given the typical daily demands on both the refugees and volunteer trainers. We focus on basic, core poses and teach a set of go to sequences that participants can have ready at hand. All training is trauma informed and all participants receive a bilingual manual, video resources (when available), and a mat to keep as a way to continue their practice.