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Using Yoga and Mindfulness to Fight Against Teen Pregnancy in Rwanda

by | Oct 7, 2022 | Changemaker Of The Week

After attending a training about sexual and reproductive health in Nairobi, Emmanuel Dushimimana was inspired to bring change home to Karongi, Rwanda. “In my community, cases of teen pregnancy were surging, and I wondered – how can I contribute to bring about change?”

Having seen some of his family members go through pregnancy at an early age due to misinformation and lack of access to healthcare, Emmanuel was determined to help as many girls as he could. 

As a certified mindfulness and meditation practitioner from the World Peace Initiative Foundation, Thailand, with experience in training over 4,000 people, Emmanuel had first-hand experience in reaping the benefits of these techniques. When he was on the brink of taking his life due to the grief of losing his grandmother, these techniques helped him survive the trauma and take care of himself. So, he was well acquainted with the magnitude of the positive effects of meditation and mindfulness and wanted to amplify it in Rwanda. 

Three years later, the Humuriza Tamar Foundation was born. With the expansion in two districts and over three thousand beneficiaries, the thriving organization was helping youth going through depression and suicidal thoughts with mindfulness and yoga. “We started off by providing the right information about sexual and reproductive health to girls at schools and then expanded into meditation and Yoga.” They focused on the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people like teen mothers, victims of gender-based violence, and people with disabilities. 

However, it wasn’t as easy as it sounds. When asked about the challenges he faced, Emmanuel answers, “It was difficult to convince my family and friends why I want to fight against teen pregnancy as a 28-year-old man. People couldn’t really understand why I am doing what I am doing.”

He went on to say, “To be honest, my approach of using meditation, yoga, and mindfulness practices, was something new to Rwanda. So, I had to really sit people down and explain to them how these practices changed my life.”

yoga mats

The grant from The Pollination Project

As Emmanuel continued to impact more people, he realized he needed support for his cause. He heard about The Pollination Project from a friend who was also a TPP grantee. “I went online and read everything I possibly could about TPP, their work, the projects they support, the changes they have made so far. After going through all of this, I knew this is the right place where I can submit my application. When I heard the news of my application being approved, I was ecstatic and so was my family!” he added happily.  

With this grant,  Emmanuel plans to purchase 40 yoga mats for his community, double what they currently have now. The mats are an investment as this will enable more people, especially the ones without a mat, to join in. This will give them a chance to focus on both meditation and yoga. For Emmanuel, this will help him to continue to help vulnerable groups of people in Rwanda.

Learn more about his organization, Hamuriza Tamar Foundation here

 

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At TPP, we are always looking for grassroots changemakers who are working to make the world a kinder and more compassionate place. We invite you to reach out to us here if you would like to apply for a TPP grant for your organization. 

 

Written by Nandini Jain