About Us

AZAHAR means orange blossom. It is a Spanish word of Arabic origin and is symbolic of the cross-cultural juxtapositions that color and flavor our beautiful blue planet. Being the first and last letter of the Roman alphabet, the A&Z symbolize the beginning and the end, the all-encompassing, the point and the zero. A blossom is a sign of new beginnings, and it indicates a new level of consciousness where humanity is able to live in peace and harmony.

History

The idea of AZAHAR developed organically with Yogeswari’s life-journey. The initial vision for cross-cultural work came while standing on the Alcazar in Cordoba, Spain, looking over fields of orange trees and into Africa and the Americas through the horizons. After years of studying various styles of modern dance and classical ballet, Yogeswari immersed herself  for 10 years in African and Afro-Caribbean Dance in New York. Along with that also came a deep interest and education on issues of race and cross-culturalism. She ran two multi-media, multi-cultural dance companies in New York, KOO Dance (1984-93) and AZAHAR (1993-97). In 1993, during a Vision Quest in the Native American tradition, the vision for AZAHAR was revealed as working towards peace primarily with women around the world, combining arts and spiritual practices. From 2003-07 AZAHAR International partnered with Fundación Para La Paz in Colombia, adding yoga to a rehabilitation program for guerilla soldiers. In 2007, the name changed to AZAHAR Foundation, and the organization began supporting a group of young people from an orphanage center in Cambodia with yoga and supporting education. In 2014, AZAHAR began hosting Peace Camps in Cambodia, which are 4-day multi-disciplinary retreats for young people, in partnership with other NGO’s. The Peace Camps gave rise to a Peace Curriculum, which is a 2-year program that allows young people to be exposed to and discover their talents in different methodologies of peace-building and social development, yoga, meditation and arts. By 2016, several young people had acquired the skill to teach yoga, and the need for a home base emerged. In 2017, the AZAHAR Center for Peace, Yoga & Arts was founded in Phnom Penh, with a smaller sister-center in SIem Reap, which also houses the first vegan Cambodian restaurant, Mahob Buos (Monk’s Food).

In 2016, Yogeswari and Jeanine Munyeshuli identified local teachers and started a program in Rwanda, teaching yoga to genocide survivors in 4 NGOS.

In partnership with Jivamukti Yoga NYC and Jivamukti Global, AZAHAR has provided scholarships for the international 300-hour Jivamukti Yoga Teacher Training to one teacher from Colombia, two from Lebanon, three from Cambodia, one from Rwanda, one from Ivory Coast and one from Syria.

Founder

YOGESWARI

Yogeswari grew up between two language groups in Switzerland and was privileged to travel the world from a very young age.

This awakened in her a deep love for the beauty of different cultural expressions, as well as a profound awareness of prejudices and injustices. After two years of studying ethnology and theater at the FU Berlin, she went on to study dance and choreography in the US (BFA McL Temple U, Philadelphia; MA NYU, New York). In her 20-year career as a dancer/choreographer, her main interest was the juxtaposition of different cultural aesthetics and media, as well as socio-political issues and multi-culturalism. In 1999, she completed a Yoga Teacher Training at Jivamukti Yoga School in New York. She is advanced certified in the method and has been teaching classes, workshops and teacher trainings around the world. She founded AZAHAR Foundation in 2007.

Team

CAMBODIA

Liva Sin

Liva Sin

Deputy Executive Director

Chhayleang KAUY

Chhayleang KAUY

Program Manager, Yoga Department, Yoga Teacher

Sophanith TES

Sophanith TES

Finance & Admin Manager

Em VUN

Em VUN

Program Manager, YOGA Department, Yoga Teacher

Rathy KHUN

Rathy KHUN

IT & Design officer

Soveth VATH

Soveth VATH

Project Officer

Sreynoch NON

Sreynoch NON

Project Officer, Yoga Teacher

Nith KOEM

Nith KOEM

Yoga Teacher

Thyna PANHA

Thyna PANHA

Yoga Teacher

Srey Neang NGET

Srey Neang NGET

Yoga Teacher

Sokhom NORT

Sokhom NORT

Yoga Teacher and Administrative Assistant

Sreylin MEK

Sreylin MEK

Project Trainer

RWANDA

Marie Paule Bwanakweli

Marie Paule Bwanakweli

Coordinator

Abdoul Mujyambere

Abdoul Mujyambere

Visual and performing artist and Yoga Teacher

Alexis Havugimana

Alexis Havugimana

Yoga Teacher

Emmanuel Manirarora

Emmanuel Manirarora

Yoga Teacher

Joseph Kagaba

Joseph Kagaba

Yoga Teacher

Rose Uwineza

Rose Uwineza

Yoga Teacher

Switzerland

Corinne Hirter

Corinne Hirter

Digital Campaign Manager

Elena Bertagna

Elena Bertagna

Administrative Assistant

Anja Halbeisen

Anja Halbeisen

Accountant

IVORY COAST

Jean-Claude Djamba

Jean-Claude Djamba

Yoga Teacher

SYRIA

Ahmad Chaaban

Ahmad Chaaban

Jivamukti Certified Yoga Teacher & Dancer

Boards

US BOARD

YOGESWARI

YOGESWARI

BOARD MEMBER

Ellen Fassberg

Ellen Fassberg

Board member and Treasurer

Jenna Butner

Jenna Butner

Board member

Jackie Barbour

Jackie Barbour

Board member

Lorraine Hall

Lorraine Hall

Administrative assistant

Bomsinae Kim

Bomsinae Kim

Board Member

SWITZERLAND BOARD

YOGESWARI

YOGESWARI

BOARD MEMBER

Laura Schurr

Laura Schurr

Board member

Noelia Diaz

Noelia Diaz

Board member

Ulrike Stein

Ulrike Stein

Board member

Jeanine Munyeshuli

Jeanine Munyeshuli

BOARD MEMBER

CAMBODIA BOARD

YOGESWARI

YOGESWARI

BOARD MEMBER

Dara Huot

Dara Huot

Board Member

Our Partners

Companies and Schools in Cambodia:

Southeast Asia Development Program- SADP

The United Sisterhood Alliance -Us

Worker’s Information Center-WIC

Cambodia Center for Human Rights

Happy Chandara School

Free to Shine organization

PEPY Empowering Youth Organization (PEPY)

Women Resource Center organization (WRC)

Women Peace Makers (WPM)

Anjali House Organization

Amansara Resort – Aman

Cambodia Living Arts organization (CLA)

Youth For Peace Organization (YFP)

Cambodia Volunteer for Society (CVS)

United Nation Advisory Panel (UNYAP)

Khmer Youth Association (KYA)

Company/ Gym

Slash company

Gunze Sports (Cambodia) co.ltd

Prodal Fight &Fitness Studio

Hong Kong Land Limited

(In Exchange Square building, Phnom Penh)

DFI Lucky Private Limited

Hongkong Land (Mansion) & (Premium Investment) Limited.

Decathlon Cambodia (Sport Company)

Women Recurs Center (NGO)

Pocari Sweat Company

Sen Han Hotel

Shinhan Bank

All Dream Cambodia Travel Agency

 

Non-Governmental Organizations in Rwanda:

Indego Africa Project

Agahozo Shalom Youth Vi l lage

Imbuto Foundation

Komera

Solid Africa

Kids Play International

Ambassadors

Ariane Gantenbein, Zürich

Laura Schurr, Bern

Rima Rabbath, New York City

Cat Alip-Douglas, London | sangyé yoga school

Céline Ryf, Bern

Karo Tak

Affiliations / Memberships

Jivamukti Yoga Bern

Jivamukti Yoga Global

Jivamukti Yoga Stavanger

Fundación Radika, Barcelona

Sharanam Yoga Project, Barcelona

Three Boons Yoga, Berlin

Personality Mag

AZAHAR is a member of Prospero World

in London, UK