The Africa Yoga Project (AYP) is implementing a new method as a means of training future African leaders: yoga. The idea is to train future ‘quality leaders’ to enable the African continent to improve its development and life-quality rates. Paige Elenson, executive director of this project said in an interview for “Fair Observer” that yoga helps young people discover their true passion and this translates into employment opportunities.

Young participants in the AYP are noted for being creative and accessible, which helps them develop useful skills in the labour market. Some of these young people come from the poorest areas of Nairobi (Kenya), a life based on theft to support their families. Through the AYP, young participants feel more fulfilled and productive; a vital aspect for them. Young people often fall into despair when looking for work, compromising them at a personal level.

Elenson states that she perceives an evolution amongparticipants as they discover their passions and concerns and this leads to job opportunities. That enthusiasm translates into skills and those skills increase young people’s employability. There are AYP areas where they can learn from each other in such a way that they complement one another and learn together.

A good example to understand the AYP philosophy is Margaret’s case. Married at the age of 12, she was abused repeatedly until she fled. She was soon caught up in a vicious cycle of crime due to the poverty of her environment; crime from which many Kenyan youths are trying to escape. Margaret tried to relieve her suffering through drugs and alcohol, until one day she decided to take charge of her life and take a yoga teacher course at AYP. Margaret embarked on a process to discover herself, to take responsibility for her decisions and this led to increased confidence and self-esteem. Since the day she discovered her passion for education through the AYP, she has lived a happy life. Today, she works for several organizations, including the United Nations, and has imparted classes regularly at the Langata prison for women.

Many people wonder whether yoga is a reliable means of combating youth unemployment. Yoga provides quality of life and, accompanied by good teachers, guidance, personal growth and certain skills that are highly valued in the labour market; AYP stands as a major source of employment. This model is a role model for the rest of the African continent with a view to achieving a prosperous future and training better prepared leaders.

Iñigo Rivera