International Women’s Day celebration at the Elephants and Bees Research Centre

Field Blog by Elephants and Bees Intern, Purity Milgo 

8th March 2020, a Saturday. This was the day it had all been building up to. It was the reason the entire week was buzzing with a flurry of activities with Maureen bustling around making sure all the preparations were underway.  It was the day everyone a camp had been waiting for, each with their own reasons and interests ranging from education, physical exercise to eating. It was also one of the reasons why the women within the community were often seen having several meetings in the hall during the few days leading up to the big day. Now that the day has come to pass and everyone has had time to reflect on it, it is safe to say that all the hustling and bustling paid off because the day went as smoothly as it could have gone.

The ladies enjoying and engaging with the speakers. International Women’s Day 2020

As soon as everyone was gathered and sat in the hall, the event started off with a prayer from one of the women. Maureen then proceeded to do the introduction into the events of the day where she presented the first speaker of the day. Nyakinyua is a professional yoga instructor from Africa Yoga Project. She taught the women the importance of not only physical but also mental wellbeing. She spoke to them and to us too, about self-love. The idea of loving yourself wholly came as a surprise to some of the women while some laughed. It seemed like the idea of self-love was something that they had never ever considered.

Rosaline and Mwaka enjoying some free time after lunch

However, they came to understand that loving yourself is a positive thing, that it is the right thing to do because if you do not love yourself, who will and how will they? They learned that in order to take care of their families, they needed to take care of themselves and one of the best ways they could do this was by loving themselves. Nyakinyua then taught the women some stretches and a few yoga poses that will help them with any physical or muscular discomfort and then encouraged them to. This became one of the main topics of discussion throughout the day and further into the week at the center where some of us decided to treat ourselves to extra servings of food and treats as we called it self-love!

This is the look of calm and satisfaction after a few much needed yoga poses. Thank you Nyakinyua!

On the day, everyone was awake at the crack of dawn ready and energized to have an incredible time. Soon after breakfast, we were all helping around, getting the research center ready and set for our guests, who were the women living within Sagalla, to arrive. We cleaned, swept and tidied up as best as we could. Soon after, the women arrived and they did so in numbers. We were extremely delighted and proud that so many wonderful women decided to join us for such a special day -for their special day.

How to cook for around 70 people all at once. Go Mlambeni Basket weavers!

This is Mwaka, happy as ever to see anyone who smiles at her

The next speakers, Regina and Monica from Voi Wellness and Counselling Centre, also spoke to the women about self-love and taking care of not only themselves but of one another. They reassured them of their importance within the family, the community and even within the country. They were taught that a woman’s strength, love and intelligence can never be underestimated. They were told about the importance and positive effects of using positive affirmations on themselves. Soon after the delicious heavy lunch provided and prepared by the Mlambeni Basket Weavers women’s group, Monica then proceeded to speak to the women about mental health. This was most of the women’s first time hearing about mental health, especially depression.  Monica informed them of the signs of depression and explained to the women to be kind and help those who seem to be showing several of the signs. She encouraged the women not to shun these individuals but to instead be kind and try to help them as much as they can. During and at the end of the talk, several head nods, hums of agreements and looks of realization could be seen on the women’s faces. This was truly an eye opening experience for them.

Monica, from the Voi Counselling and Wellness Centre

Regina, from the Voi Counselling and Wellness Centre

We danced our feet off!

This is why the day went as smoothly as it could have gone. Not only had the Sagalla women gone away with newly found knowledge and power, but so did we! Self-love and kindness makes all the difference in our lives, so love and be kind to yourself and to thy neighbor.

The clear joy of being around wonderful people and having a wonderfully cooked meal

 

Photo credits: Purity Milgo

The views, opinions and position expressed in this article belong solely to the author/s and do not necessarily reflect the policy and position of Save the Elephants

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