The Global Seva Challenge is this: Anyone who can raise $20,000 will travel with Suzanne and I to a developing country that has suffered from genocide, natural disaster or war and, as a result, has a culture and population that remains vulnerable to poverty, illiteracy, HIV/AIDS, human trafficking and abuse. The participants can't pay us for the trip. They must find creative ways to raise the money through donations by working with their local community, raising awareness and discovering what it takes to become a leader. This trip is a reward for that leadership. In 2008, our first challenge was to help support the Cambodian Children's Fund. We had 124 people trying to raise the money. Twenty succeeded, but collectively we were able to raise $524,000. In 2009, the 20 people (all women once again!) got to travel with us to Cambodia and actually see how their money was being spent and participate in the different programs that would benefit from the funds. This year, our focus has been on Uganda. We had over 130 people try; 21 succeeded and collectively we raised $566,000. Considering the economy, we were tremendously pleased with this success and are grateful for the support of our community. These funds will be used to support Shanti Uganda, Building Tomorrow, the New Hope School and YouthAIDS. We will participate in building an eco-birthing center in a remote village for HIV/AIDS positive women, build a seven-room school house, provide food, supplies and much-needed bedding to some local orphanages, while also learning about the history of Uganda, its culture, politics and people.
For the next two weeks, I will be blogging about our journey in Uganda and what is being created as a result of the efforts of the remarkable women who have earned the opportunity to journey here and serve. We call this "The Bare Witness Humanitarian Tour," not because we've come to watch how others live, but to also share with them our lives, experience ourselves outside of our comfort zone, confront our own assumptions, fears and prejudice, be present to the circumstance of trauma,and become inspired by the loving connections we make when we dignify the human experience—others' and our own. I am certain that each woman, myself included, will confront both the lightest and darkest parts of their beings over the next couple of weeks. I am also certain that we will all grow, and perhaps through taking our yoga off the mat and into the world, we can experience each other as who we truly are. All one. I invite you to join us on this journey as we open our hearts to serve each other, the Ugandan people and the mystery that is spirit.
Seane Corn is an internationally celebrated yoga teacher known for her impassioned activism, unique self-expression and inspirational style of teaching that incorporates both the physical and mystical aspects of the practice of yoga. For more on Seane Corn, visit SeaneCorn.com.