The collaboration between Yogamour, ArtSugar, and artist Caroline Orr brings together so much good will, good energy, and creative light, into one place and onto one platform.
My first, but definitely not last, experience with Yogamour was this past New Year's holiday. I booked the trip along with my mom and sister, and truthfully, I really signed up for the yoga and the second half of the trip, touring temples, local markets, and the beaches in the south. The 'service' part was what was required to get to the fun stuff!
Along with 8 other people, I spent three days in Thailand, in the hills north of Chiang Mai, working with Yogamour to run an eye clinic for the children and adults of the Akha Village tribe. The Akha are an ethnic minority group that have trickled South from China since the 19th century, and arrived in greater numbers to Thailand after WWII during periods of civil war and unrest in Burma and Laos. Unlike in the United States, babies born in Thailand are not automatically granted citizenship. Most of the Akha, even though they are 3rd or 4th generation, do not have citizenship and so lack access to basic healthcare and services. They are also not allowed to hold most higher paying jobs in the country. Prostitution and sex trafficking is a dangerous avenue that looms ahead for many of the young women. For all their lack of opportunity, in the three days I spent in their village and school, the people I met were gracious, quick to smile and laugh, patient, and so thoughtful. One of the village members came each day to cook us lunch and bring fresh picked bananas, even though we had our own provisions, and even though her time and resources were precious. One of the boys made it his job to corral each younger student to make sure they had the chance to see the doctor. We nicknamed him "The Mayor". The homes they live in are thatch-roof wooden structures without basic plumbing, nestled into the hillside. With children and dogs flitting back and forth, there was a sense of joie de vivre that belies their circumstances.
When you book a Yogamour trip, part of the cost goes toward the travel expenses needed to bring the appropriate health professionals overseas, as well as the interpreters who accompany us in the village, and the medicines we prescribe. Our group included an Optometrist from Alabama, a physician from Holland, and a nurse from New Mexico. In three days, we saw over 110 patients, prescribed and gave out glasses, arranged follow ups for more serious eye issues, and addressed many general aches and pains. My job was checking everyone in, and when they checked out, giving each kid a toy from our grab bag. The slinky was by far the fan favorite. I also learned how to talk a tiny bit of Thai. :) Mostly names for animals, numbers, and lots of Ka-Poon-Ka! For the equivalent of $30 USD, Yogamour can provide eye car for one child in Thailand for a whole year. The Akha live on less than $1 USD a day. This was just one project, in one village, for only three days, that I was a part of. Led by the Yogamour Co-Founder, Beccah Bartlett, the Akha have begun to have access to basic health services. Beccah is changing and saving lives. Yogamour is also supporting communities in India and Myanmar. And she teaches a transcendent, toe tingling yoga class to boot. She is the closest thing I have encountered to an angel on earth.
The three days running the eye clinic in the Akha Village with Beccah have stayed with me more than the beautiful sites and delicious dishes that filled the second half of our time in Thailand. More than anything else, Yogamour is an experience in love. Love for others and also for yourself. Before Yogamour, my orbit was a much smaller one. My focus was strictly my own life/career/friends. This trip blew apart my outlook on the world, and on the power of one community, one person and even $1 USD. Like the Grinch, my heart grew a few sizes those three days! You will come on a Yogamour adventure as one person and leave as another.
The cherry on top is that an artist I deeply admire, Caroline Orr, has created three works for the ArtSugar site, and is donating 25% of the proceeds to the Yogamour cause. Caroline is a young artist with an old soul. Her forms and lines have a certain rhythm and remembered path; they don't feel new as much as they do engrained. Her combinations of color and shape, and the way she assembles disparate collage elements into a whole, suggests a certain jazz mentality. She is a maestro in the making. Caroline's work offered on ArtSugar is pictured and linked below.
Bringing together these creative and positive forces is a recipe for change and inspiration. The chef who is mixing art and philanthropy to such masterful effect is Alix Greenberg with her ArtSugar platform. Art feeds the soul, but dollars do make a difference, and Alix's mission to use one to accomplish the other is kind, genius, and a formula we should live by. Beccah, Caroline and Alix are each making a life sweeter, each in their own way.
Courtney Kremers, SVP, Post-War & Contemporary Art Specialist, Sotheby's Auction House - February 28, 2018
Learn more about Yogamour: Watch the video below created with karma love and vibes by @kristinkremers.