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 my life’s 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, I immersed myself in African and Afro-Caribbean Dance in New York. Along with that came a deep interest in cross-culturalism, as well as a preoccupation with issues of baseless prejudice and racism. Based on that foundation, I ran two multi-media, multi-cultural dance companies in New York. A vision quest in the Native American tradition revealed AZAHAR’s purpose as a peace building force, primarily led by women, combining arts and spirituality.

Having been a close witness to the 9/11 attacks in New York, I found solace in in the teachings of Jivamukti Yoga and inspiration for a peace village in Thich Nhat Han’s Plum Village. AZAHAR’s first project was with Fundación Para La Paz in Colombia, adding yoga to a rehabilitation program for guerilla soldiers. In 2007, the organization began supporting a group of young people from an orphanage center in Cambodia with yoga and supporting education.

As the young people matured, we started organizing annual Peace Camps and a 2-year Peace Curriculum, both of which served to deepen their practice of yoga and meditation, and to expose them to the arts and methodologies of peace-building and social development.

AZAHAR also sponsored two local yoga teacher trainings for mostly disadvantaged youth. In 2017, the AZAHAR Center for Peace, Yoga & Arts was founded in Phnom Penh, with a smaller sister-center in Siem Reap, which also housed the first vegan Cambodian restaurant, Mahob Buos (Monk’s Food). These centers have provided employment for our beneficiaries, both in administrative capacities and as yoga teachers. The center and restaurant in Siem Reap were closed due to Covid-19, whereas the center in Phnom Penh still works at reduced capacity.

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 o teachers from Colombia, Lebanon, Cambodia, Rwanda, Ivory Coast and Syria.

Founder

YOGESWARI

Growing up in a multi-lingual household in Switzerland, while also traveling the world with my family, I developed a keen interest for world cultures, their languages, arts and spiritual traditions.

After two years of studying ethnology and theater at the FU Berlin, I went on to study dance and choreography in the US (BFA McL Temple U, Philadelphia; MA NYU, (New York). In my 20-year career as a dancer/choreographer, my main interest was the juxtaposition of different cultural aesthetics and media, as well as socio-political issues and multi-culturalism.

In 1999, I completed a Yoga Teacher Training at Jivamukti Yoga School in New York. I am advanced certified in the method and have been teaching classes, workshops and teacher trainings around the world. I founded AZAHAR Foundation in 2007.

Team

CAMBODIA

Liva Sin

Liva Sin

Deputy Executive Director

Chhayleang KAUY

Chhayleang KAUY

Program Manager, Yoga Department, Jivamukti Certified Yoga Teacher

Sophanith TES

Sophanith TES

Finance & Admin Manager

Em VUN

Em VUN

Program Manager, YOGA Department, Jivamukti Certified 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

Visual Communication

Elena Bertagna

Elena Bertagna

Administrative Assistant

Anja Halbeisen

Anja Halbeisen

Accountant

IVORY COAST

Jean-Claude Djamba

Jean-Claude Djamba

Jivamukti Certified 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

Decathlon Sports

Angkor Village Resort

The United Sisterhood Alliance -Us

Worker’s Information Center-WIC

Cambodia Center for Human Rights

Happy Chandara School

Free to Shine

PEPY Empowering Youth (PEPY)

Women’s Resource Center (WRC)

Women Peace Makers (WPM)

Anjali House

Amansara Resort – Aman

Youth For Peace (YFP)

Cambodia Volunteer for Society (CVS)

United Nation Advisory Panel (UNYAP)

Khmer Youth Association (KYA)

Slash company

Gunze Sports (Cambodia)

Prodal Fight &Fitness Studio

Hong Kong Land Limited

DFI Lucky Private Limited

Women’s Resource Center

Pocari Sweat Company

Sen Han Hotel

Shinhan Bank

All Dream Cambodia Travel Agency

SPOON’s Café & Restaurant

 

Non-Governmental Organizations in Rwanda:

Indego Africa Project

Agahozo Shalom Youth Village

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

Souk of Rima, New York

Yoga Shanti, Sag Harbor

Fundación Radika, Barcelona

Three Boons Yoga, Berlin

Sharanam Yoga Project, Barcelona

Personality Mag

AZAHAR is a member of Prospero World

in London, UK