The Only Yoga Club in Gaza
This piece by Tahreer Mortaga is the second entry in our series highlighting Arab youth change-makers. Read the first piece in the series, an interview with Sandy Boutros, here.
I am a Palestinian journalist from Gaza. I’ve always loved to write. In 2004, I began working for local news radio stations. And I later obtained a degree from Islamic University in 2009. I am particularly keen on telling personal stories that connect with readers on an emotional level.
Women and children have always been my primary focus in my writing. I have come to realize that the suffering in the recurrent wars in Gaza have left negative scars on women here. They have so many unmet needs that have been exacerbated by violence, repression and poverty. Negativity has conquered their thoughts and crippled their ability to move on with their lives.
This led me to the idea of establishing a hub, a community space, for these women. I was unsure what to call at first. But I knew I wanted it to be a club for generating positive energy and fighting negativity that would offer psychosocial support and life coaching.
I managed to carry out 100 workshops working closely with women while inviting role models from the community to inspire them as leaders for future change. Each gathering was made up of 50 participants who took part in activities like music therapy, painting, meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises.
Since then, my idea has taken on a life of its own and caught the attention of so many people. I received calls from local and international media. Then the pandemic put all of our activities on hold.
But now, my yoga hub is flourishing. It has become a respite for so many women who want to practice yoga. It’s a kind of sisterhood that brings women together in groups to move, breathe, laugh, share and reflect — and just celebrate being together.
It’s my hope that this center will serve as an example of a safe and healthy space for women. I envision the space not only as a place to practice yoga, read and listen to music — but also to get counseling on educational and family issues, and much more.
Now that the yoga hub/ positive energy club is a reality, it’s really turned my life upside down in a good way. I am currently being invited to speak about it and share inspirational stories. But it all started with an idea.
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