So grateful to be featured in I AM MODERN magazine for my work in India and connecting that work to my yoga. Thank you Megan Imbert for thinking of writing this article! Education is such a huge part of this mission.
It is too late to pick it up at the stores but I have still seen them in doctor offices, yoga studios, etc… and you can read it here!
Om Om Om (by Gita Krista Zember, Global Seva India)
Posted on February 14th, 2013 in OTM News by offthematintotheworld
Before I left for this Global Seva trip to India, I made space in my life. I didn’t commit to too much for after my trip and didn’t make any big plans. I wanted to make sure I left space for possibility and inspiration, knowing this trip had great potential for amazing transformation. I am pretty sure that is exactly what is going to happen. It has already begun.
Yesterday we visited Women’s Link International. There we met Aloka, a beautiful 72 year old Indian woman with an education from England. As a child her family was well off yet she lived in a neighborhood where not everyone was so blessed. It was then she noticed the injustice of the situations of those living around her.
While in college or shortly there after she noticed the kids in the neighborhood running around, causing mischief and not attending school. Aloka then gathered the mothers of the neighborhood and encouraged them to send their kids to school by letting them know their rights and by inspiring them to encourage their kids to get a better education than what they already had. I cannot tell you how many kids I have seen on the streets and in the fields here in India that must be of school age. Hundreds.
It is now nearly 50 years later, and Aloka has not only found time to raise a family but to make change in society and the laws to help lift up underprivileged people of all kinds, kids that have been trafficked or at risk of being trafficked, elderly, women, poor, and any population that is in need. She is amazing. The projects and change she has made are so amazing and numerous I would need several more blogs to post about it!
Aloka has inspired me in a way that hasn’t been done for a long time. It was like when I met His Holiness the Dalai Lama which inspired me to help Tibetan Refugees. I left my husband and my job and moved to Boulder, Colorado to study Tibetan Buddhism and language. Inspiration can take me far!
TODAY we visited Nijoloy Children’s Home in Kolkata which is one of 4 homes that Aloka runs to house girls that have been trafficked or are at severe risk of being trafficked such as their mom is a prostitute. This home housed 100 girls aged baby to over 18. Many of these girls are learning skills such as block printing, jewelry making, sewing, cooking, and others that can provide them an income so they don’t end up in prostitution once they leave the children’s home.
While there we painted a mural in the newly build dormitory room, taught yoga and mantras, took a tour, received mahendi (mendhi), and played ball games. One girl sang beautiful Nepali songs. She and I just sat and sang songs together, hers Nepali, mine in Sanskrit. It was so beautiful to share so much together. Song, Love, Joy, Connectedness and moments to remember forever.
Today we spoke with Aloka again. As she was speaking about expanding programs at the home, she mentioned how she would love to have yoga for the girls 3 days a week. Instantly I knew. I knew what I had to do. I asked what it would take to make it happen and I am already thinking about how to make it work. I am so excited to not only find my spark and my inspiration but a way to stay connected to this experience, the girls, this country and the amazing Aloka in a beautiful way that I hope my community will support.
I don’t exactly know what this project is going to look like or how it will come to fruition, but I know I am going to make it work and I am so excited to be able to serve in this amazing way by bringing yoga, peace, love, and connectedness to these amazing bright lights that I had the pleasure of spending the day with. I look forward to the next part of this journey and where this inspiration will lead.
Gita Krista Zember is originally from Sterling, VA and successfully raised more than $20,000 for the 2012 Global Seva Challenge by mobilizing her community and rising up as a leader for a cause she believes in. Funds raised will help support organizations in India that are providing refuge, rehabilitation and economic opportunities to sex trafficking victims, and empower survivors to lead lives with dignity and respect.
The opinions expressed in this blog are that of the individual author and are not necessarily shared by Off the Mat, Into the World.
Original Blog post can be seen here: http://offthematintotheworld.org/blog/otm-news/1376/
Thank You! Thank You! Thank You! To so many people I cannot even name you all. It is so many of you that have helped me to get to this trip to India I will be leaving on Saturday. I will be spending 2 weeks with Off the Mat, Into the World as we work with numerous organizations to combat sex trafficking in India. It was over a year ago I decided to take this journey of raising $20,000 while educating about sex trafficking and inspiring others. I had never made $20,000 in a year in my life with any job I have had so this was an amazing feat raising over $23,000. I donated my yoga classes I taught, the kirtans I sang, held 2 humongous garage sales, sold items, begged, harassed, and pleaded. Once I set out to do it, I wasn’t going to stop, but let me tell, you I had my doubts.
Just as promised, I found support in places I never expected. A woman found my post on my website and donated over $1000, a mom of an acquaintance that had just watched a documentary about human trafficking, someone meeting me and hearing about the project for the first time, a teenager I had never met. And also as promised, places I expected to get support, I did not. Back home in Ohio, barely a soul cared. Fundraisers were fruitless, donations barely a one. I think this was the hardest part of all. It wasn’t that I needed that money in the end and they let me down, it was the lack of support. I felt they didn’t care about the cause and they didn’t care about me. But in the end, it wasn’t that experience that stuck with me the most, it was all the people and all the ways others DID support me and my work. It wasn’t just the monetary donations that meant the world to me but also lending tables, lending time, donating items for the garage sale, volunteering to help on various tasks, asking me how the project was going, words of support and encouragement, hugs. The community that has grown around this experience has been amazing. I have been wondering how I will continue to grow this amazingness without the Global Seva Project? I will figure it out!
Now, I leave in a few days. A few sets of clothes in my backpack, various items to help prevent and treat food borne illness, my yoga mat, and an open mind and heart for an adventure like no other I have had before. I will leave my family for 3 weeks. I have amazing friends supporting caring for my kids and an amazing husband who has been my biggest cheerleader from day one when I sat him down and told him he may want 2 beers to hear what I was up to with this Global Seva Project. I will work with girls and women who have been through the unimaginable. I will hold space for their story. I will acknowledge them as important human beings. I will witness their strength. I will hope to come back and be able to tell their story and do it justice. I will also be painting and moving and building and dancing and teaching yoga and learning to make jewelry but somehow I don’t think that its what will be what touches my heart.
Without you all to inspire, contribute, lift and love me, I would not be going to India. I go, already different from this journey of the past year. Learning to ask for help and how to inspire and lead too. I know I will come back changed again. I look forward to sharing with you where the next stretch of this journey will take me.
I wanted to share this link to a beautiful post about going to a first Kirtan. Each Month we have a vegetarian Potluck and Kirtan at the Yurt. So far, most months, many of the folks who come are new to the Kirtan world and it is so fun to introduce them to such a beautiful practice. I could talk on and on about Kirtan, but I will allow Cedar to tell you through her words and pictures what she experienced. OM OM OM!
In January, my 6 year old daughter asked me if there were still slaves. I had to say Yes. I hadn’t thought about that much until she asked and I realized the answer was Yes. I don’t want it to be so. But it is. There are millions of people still in slavery on this planet. Many are women and children. I didn’t really realize this until a few years ago and then just buried it deep in my file of “I don’t want to think about it.. too horrifying.” But I am not going to allow that to happen anymore. I want to know more and I and I hope to be the guide for many of you to learn too.
This whole entire year ALL classes I teach in DC and VA will be by donation. That means no set prices on classes. ALL of those donations will go towards my Global Seva Challenge, a program of Off the Mat Into the World. This will challenge me to raise $20,000 this year. This is more money than I have ever made in a year. This is BIG.
These funds will help rehabilitate, empower, bring job training, and provide refuge for victims of sex trafficking in India. In this process I will educate myself and others. There will be a lot of soul searching and digging. This is a tough journey in many ways but I am up for it. I just feel I need to do it. This is a very important part of yoga. Service. I hope this won’t be a one woman mission. I envision this being a community experience.
Besides donating all of my classes to this project… I will need to do more fundraising. I am open to all ideas and suggestions. I hope to inspire you to do something big or small to give back to this amazing world in which we live. We are so blessed here in this country in so many ways…
And please, please support me. If I reach this goal, I will go to India to represent Off the Mat, Into the World and see where our money is going and be able to speak from the heart about these great projects…and I am sure it will be a life changing experience that I hope to bring back to share with you.
Please let me know if you want to hear more. I am sure I will continue to share. Feel free to share ideas on fundraising big or small. Donate today to contribute to this project at
select Global Seva Challenge India and Krista Zember.
I will appreciate every effort ,every dollar and every word of support throughout the year. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you….
The Global Seva Challenge, a program of Off the Mat, Into the World. Learn more at www.offthematintotheworld.org