An Update from the Founder (Dec 2020)
Peace through Yoga Foundation is the 501c3 non-profit that operates and provides funds for the Girls for Success (GFS) program in the Caribbean town of Hone Creek, Costa Rica. The funding comes from our amazing sponsors and loyal donors. The Hone Creek community is delighted to have the Girls for Success Center in their midst, where girls between the ages of 7 and 16 learn English and sewing and are inspired to seek higher education and careers.
A huge thanks goes out to our Program Director, Patricia Arias-Reynolds, our English teacher, Carla Cunningham, and our sewing teacher, Reyna Centeno for their ingenuity and creativity, which has kept our girls engaged in learning during the Covid-19 quarantine. Lessons are being provided by video, in small groups at the school and even one-on-one in the girls’ homes. The girls embarked on another project of sewing face masks and then helping to distribute them to those in need in the community.
The Girls for Success Center currently caters to 25 girls. Our core elementary program is committed to 16 girls a year. Once they complete elementary school and head into high school, they join our GFS Mentoring Club.
We are incredibly excited that our first GFS student will graduate from high school in December! Even today, girls in this community are not necessarily expected to finish high school as they are needed in the home or on the farm. Janeisy Matarrita will not only be graduating from high school but she plans to go to college! Once known as the “miracle child”, Janeisy had operation after operation on the back of her leg and was not expected to walk properly. Happily, she persevered and we were able to give her a bike so she could get back and forth more easily on the unpaved roads. Janeisy is the president of our mentoring club and has grown into a most beautiful and intelligent young lady.
It is sad to say, but this will be the first time in over 16 years that we will not have our Costa Rica: Yoga, Adventure, and Service trip. My heart goes out to the travel industry worldwide during this Covid-19 pandemic. Please plan on joining us in November 2021 when we return to this fabulous destination. Fortunately, yoga classes have resumed via zoom or with limited numbers of students in a live class. I had tears in my eyes as I taught my first zoom class after being quarantined for over a month as we figured it all out. Consider joining me any Monday at 9:30 a.m. Eastern Standard Time via www.bloominglifeyoga.com.
Yoga can give you the tools needed to truly quiet the mind during this stressful time in our history. Non yogis think the practice is all about stretching. It is so much more than becoming flexible. Yoga helps build strength in the body, assists with balance, releases toxins, de-stresses the mind, teaches us purpose, and so much more!
Giving back is a value of yoga, thus Peace through Yoga Foundation was born. For many years we worked in orphanages and schools around the world---India, Kenya, Uganda, and Cambodia just to name a few. We have now chosen to focus our efforts solely in Costa Rica to allow us to make a bigger impact in a way that is sustainable for the long-term.
Last but not least, I’d like to share with you some sad personal news as well as an extraordinary gift to the foundation. My dear friend, Jean Deeds, passed away last month. Jean was the epitome of a woman of adventure. At the age of 51, Jean decided to hike the entire Appalachian Trail by herself, all 2100+ miles across 14 states. We became fast friends after she returned and started leading adventure trips with me. Fast forward 25 years of adventures together, Jean sat up on her deathbed and handed me an incredibly generous check to help assure that the foundation succeeds long term. 100% of these funds will be applied to scholarships for graduating girls and to our dream of purchasing our own property and creating a lovely center which includes classroom space and a teacher’s bungalow. Stay-tuned for updates as we pursue these goals.
In her new book, The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World, Melinda Gates, says “When you lift up women, you lift up everybody…families, communities, entire countries…”. The book lifts up the voices of women and girls around the world. Our goal is to enrich, educate, and empower the girls in this rural area of Costa Rica.
We have several girls still needing sponsors for $500 a year, if interested, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Know you can help make a difference and lift up one girl who will be empowered the rest of her life.
⭐ Shining Star ⭐
This year, despite the challenges we faced with the pandemic, we saw our English program strengthen tremendously. The girls have gained extra conversational practice with the individual online lessons and one-on-one classes at the center. One student in particular, Marylin, has shown a huge improvement this year and continues to impress us each week. Marylin’s mom, Reyna, is our school’s sewing teacher. Reyna supports the school immensely, and Marylin follows closely in her footsteps. When school started in February, Marylin was not comfortable reading for the class or participating. Since then, she has become confident in speaking, even if she makes mistakes. She always completes her work and is ready to learn. Marylin has impeccable attendance, never misses an assignment and even comes to the center when it’s not expected of her. She loves to help the other girls and teacher Carla around the classroom. Ms. Carla reminds the girls that they are her teacher too. She has found that her incorrect pronunciation of Spanish words has helped the girls realize it's okay to make mistakes; trying is what's important! “It is so rewarding to be these girls’ teacher. Seeing their improvements brings a huge smile to my face. I know that Marylin has a bright future ahead of her!”
Spread Your Wings
I have been working with the Mentor Club for well over two years now. I have had the pleasure of watching Janeisy Alicia Matarrita grow into such an intelligent, compassionate and aspiring young lady. She has always been the one to motivate the other girls in the club. She makes sure that our programs run smoothly and that we are always prepared. During these uncertain times, we have grown closer, but it is time for her to spread her wings and fly. She is going to be our FIRST high school graduate! We have experienced so many adventures together. Recently, we have been creating self-development workshops for women in the community, assisting in the sewing program and preparing her to obtain a driver’s license. She has decided that she wants to study Social Work. These are bittersweet moments for me because I know we will miss her, but I will always be her big sister, her mentor, and, most importantly, her biggest fan!
“A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you, than you see in yourself, and helps bring it out of you.” - Bob Proctor