This essay was written by Africa Yoga Project instructor Zablon. He is in his 5th year of AYP mentorship with our own Liz Veyhl, and working toward his Baptiste Yoga certification in Nairobi, Kenya. What an incredible collection of thoughts, offering both a shared and fresh perspective on what it can mean to "serve" -
BEING OF SERVICE
‘Service to humanity is service to God’
Being of service to me means being selfless: which means getting out of my comfort zone to give and create a loving societal community. To be able to offer service one has to identify what the community needs most and to them its just a dream they cannot accomplish no matter what.
Building a school in a Maasai village in Amboseli is the one among service projects that I worked on and felt touched in such a way that changed my perspective about life. Being in Amboseli was like being in the middle of nowhere. Vast and empty space is all that surrounded me and the team I was working with. Save for a few Manyatta scattered in this expansive jungle the rest was vegetation and wild animals. Manyatta is the Maasai house or village.
It was amazing to be in an environment that is natural and full of life in its purest form. There was no shelter; we were sleeping in a tent inside a sleeping bag. To shower there were makeshift bathrooms and toilets. and it seemed to me that since Maasai people are nomads they did not see the need for permanent structures. During the day, the sun was so hot like really scorching with limited shelter and at night was cold. We used to make a bonfire outside where we had camped and this provided as good platform from which to share our experience about what had opened up during the day and if anyone had anything to share with rest of the group. After chatting and planning for the next day, we went in our tents to catch some sleep and rest for the task ahead.
The question of safety played in my mind because we were in the jungle surrounded by wild animals. I used to hear the sound of lions roaring and strange animal sounds. At some point fear of elephants trampling the tents and crushing me to death or lions invading was rife but I had faith and trust in the presence of Maasai morans or warriors guarding us. The morans have the power and secrets of keeping the animals at bay.
After one week of hard work, we had completed like 4 classrooms, a toilet and more than 30 desks. That to me was humbling because of how the students and parents were so happy about having a roof over their heads. They broke in song and dance, performing Maasai dance. The area administration was around to witness and appreciate this noble gesture. There was a lot of love from the locals to our team. I was given milk in a traditional guard and that symbolized a lot of respect accorded to me. This I realized that being of service is the noblest thing that ever happened to me.
Being of service helps create pathways for me and in my students, because it revolves around embodying what I say and the dedication I gave to the project. Leaving the comfort of the city to go and share with a school a loving heart my energy into building a school and desks in Maasail and without being paid. I enjoyed the result created by service because when I am teaching I normally remind students to trust and enjoy the asana practice the same way I trusted the Maasai warriors guarding our camp looking in the dark for any sign of intruding predators. They were inspired by the idea of how freely we shared around the bonfire, because it meant we were so connected for a noble cause.
The whole process taught me to be more relaxed in whatever I do. I felt relaxed there because of the serenity of the countryside, at night insects singing and animal noises. No worries about being late for appointments. I felt complete relaxation, serenity, sense of ease, hadn’t had that experience for a long time. reminded and made me to cultivate an inner serenity and a sense of satisfaction, to cultivate Shanti and Santosha irrespective of how busy my city life is.