We are also planting the seeds for a project in Ivory Coast, in collaboration with Leila Hassen’s Lila Yoga in Abidjan. Leila is taking the Jivamukti Teacher Training in India in February, and AZAHAR is sponsoring her apprentice, Jean-Claude Djamba to attend Teacher Training along with her. So far, Yoga classes are being offered to Rosemarie Giraud’s African dance school, and we are looking to build towards peace programs, initially through literacy, sports and yoga in the slums of Abidjan.

Main Activities

  • Peace Curriculum

  • Jivamukti Yoga Teacher Training

  • TBD

Cost: $15,000

Yoga classes are being offered to Rosemarie Giraud’s dance company, Guirivoir, in Abidjan, as complementary education & Jivamukti Teacher Training.

Cost: $8,000

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Who is Who


Jean Claude Djamba, a national from Benin, was born in Koumassi Ivory Coast. His family emigrated from Benin for economic reasons. His father passed away, when he was very young, which meant that he had to help support his family and was unable to finish school. Two of his brothers died from asthma. As is typical for many young people in Africa, Jean Claude was unemployed for many years. He tried his luck  at soccer, and then worked as a DJ in a bar.

Four years ago, he was introduced to Yoga by Leila Hassan, founder of Lila Yoga in Abidjan. Practicing Yoga gave him hope and a motivation to live again. Yoga has given him inner peace and self-control. He started changing physically and transforming spiritually. After two years of practice, his asthma stopped. Thanks to becoming Leila Hassan’s apprentice and assistant, he is able to afford a modest home.


Jean-Claude has assisted and substituted classes for Leila Hassan at Lila Yoga and has taught classes to young dancers and musicians at Guirivoire, Rosemarie Guiraud’s Dance Company in Abidjan. He is being sponsored by AZAHAR Foundation and Lila Yoga to do the 300-hour Jivamukti Teacher Training in India.

His dream is to share the Yogic practices, inner peace and good health with young people in Africa, who are facing the same odds. He would like to contribute to his host-city, Abidjan, to find again a life that makes sense, a life of cooperation, sharing and love. He would like to heal the racial and religious divide and hate that have emerged in people because of so many civil wars.

Through Yoga, Jean Claude has claimed his life again. He recommends Yoga to everyone in order to change their lives for the better and for world peace to become a reality.

Current Conditions

It is difficult to determine early populations in Ivory Coast, due to the rapid disintegration of remains with a very humid climate. It is known, that there were significant movements in the region in the early Roman times due to the Trans-Saharan Trade Route, transporting gold, slaves, salt and more. Before the arrival of the Europeans there were five important states that flourished as prosperous centers of agriculture, trade and an extraordinary richness of arts and crafts. Some of the better known civilizations are the Senufo, Akan and Baoule. The French arrived in the 15th century.


Ivory Coast was not touched as much as other areas of West Africa by the slave trade, due to its absence of protected harbors. What started flourishing was the trade in ivory, which caused the population of elephants to disappear by the 18th century. Ivory Coast, however, rich in many natural resources, such as gold, cocoa, bauxite and other minerals and precious metals, continued to be of interest to the Europeans and became a French colony from 1893-1958. During that time, it was established that the French culture was superior, there was an imposition of French laws and institutions, while Ivorians were allowed to maintain their customs, as long as they did not interfere with French interests. A small Ivorian elite was established, whereas others had no political rights and were forced to work in mines and plantations. Ivory Coast won its independence in 1958, and was ruled by President Houphouët-Boigny until 1993. Since his death, Ivory Coast has plunged into a turmoil of coups, civil war, economic downturn and changing leaders. Former president Laurent Gbagbo whose aim was to free Ivory Coast from foreign interests is currently sitting in the War Tribunal in De Hague, while Alassane Ouattara has taken office, supported by the French, US & EU. According to the World Bank, average income per capita in 2015 was $3,514, positioning it at #141.

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