The COVID-19 crisis continues to have a devastating economic impact in developing countries, including Cambodia and Rwanda. AZAHAR has had to modify its programs according to lock-down regulations and to serve the most immediate needs of the communities it serves. The priority has been to provide job security to the 12 full-time employees in Cambodia and to keep the AZAHAR family together in both Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Thanks to your many very generous donations we have been able to do so.
As in most countries, yoga teachers in Phnom Penh were unable to teach classes for five months, but became very resourceful teaching online and engaging in a beautiful artistic collaboration with photographer Stéfane Combre for a 2021 yoga calendar (preorder coming soon..). Others have started a Cambodia Food Relief Program, cooking and distributing food for garment factory workers and people in the service industry who have lost their jobs, to tuk-tuk drivers whose customer base has vanished and to the children of families who were already suffering from poverty before COVID. In a trial run, we were able to feed 60 people 3x/week on a mere $100.
Whereas the vegan restaurant Mahob Buos had to close temporarily due to COVID-19, we would like to re-activate the kitchen and a community garden as a way to provide free food for the needy. Siem Reap’s community is currently enduring a devastating loss of jobs due to the loss of tourism (90% of people in Siem Reap/ Angkor Vat have been living off of this industry). It would provide 4-6 jobs for chefs and cooks who have lost their employment and provide children and their newly impoverished families with “know-how” about self-help and community support through growing their own organic food, composting, recycling, an education on how to boost the immune system and physical health through healthy nutrition, veganism and yoga. In addition, the mental health crisis that has been provoked in Cambodia as a result of COVID’s economic devastation would be addressed through meditation practices supported by local Buddhist nuns and monks.
In Cambodia, live yoga classes are slowly beginning to pick up again, but schools are expected to remain closed until the end of the year, which includes many of the outreach activities we have conducted with children. In Rwanda, everything is still on hold, but we are raising funds in order to continue teaching yoga classes to four partner organizations, as well as to develop a basic yoga teacher training as tool for fifty psychologists who support the healing of genocide survivors.
Thank you very much for joining our efforts to restore basic human warmth, love, beauty and harmonious co-habitation on our precious blue planet!
Founder & President AZAHAR Foundation