Help to bridge the gap!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

"Babies & Hats" Project 2013

We are collecting hats for babies and toddlers to distribute in Angola because many of the women are not protecting their kids from the hot sun and they are dying from dehydration and overheat. Many women cannot afford the hats or they are simply uneducated about the effects of the sun on young children.

Our project is simple because we have come across so many road barriers with funds and governmental support so we just want to bridge the gap between our world in Africa and our friends, family and sphere in the west by doing something that is not too hard to make a difference. One hat could help one kid to stay safe from the sun. One hat could mean life for one kid. Idea is to advance with this project to maybe medical supplies, school supplies and so on but we have to start somewhere.

There is lots of factual information on the blog please play with it and ask us questions if you want to get involved and also lots of pictures. There are several pictures with women carrying their kids on their backs without hats.

We are open to ideas, help or whatever feedback you want to give it is not "our" project; the more people we are the better and also the more involved people are the more kids we will reach!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

One step at a time…

Dear family, friends, co-workers and supporters of Sewadars,
As we approached March month we were faced with the challenge and realization of how slow moving things really are in Africa J the main reason being that the infrastructure and the culture is so vastly different from what we are used to in the West. We keep hopes up with our Sadhana, regular meetings with Dr. Pinto, by staying focused on the end goal and our constant discussions and search to find qualified teachers and professionals that we can train and work with to mold into the Sewadars vision. We have learned to practice non attachment to our desires and results based on when and how we want them but to rather accept that things fall in place as they should and need to. Well now into March we feel we have reached good progress that is cause for celebration based on the speed things move with here. We found 3 hectares (equivalent of 7.5 acres, 3 football fields) of land in the province of Bengo thanks to the donation of Mr. Anibal Da Silva, Vice Minister of Petroleum (also Claudio Lamsa´s uncle). This land is perfectly situated so that we can start growing the local plants for the School and the holistic healing aspect of the teachings. Dr. Pinto is very enthusiastic and eager to get started and we are now planning to organize a trip to visit the filed. It is located approximately 3hours from Luanda and is in a cooperative that is designated for agriculture and wild life preservation. We know that the land can only be used for agricultural purposes and that the fields surrounding it would be used with the same intent. There is water in the vicinity so as we understand it is ideal for plants. The idea of the field is to provide with plants that are regularly used in the future clinic of Sewadars and are of higher demand since this field will be more easily assessable that another potential field that we may obtain in Malanje area which is 423km away by car and is approximately 4000 hectares. This field is on “loan” basis and donated by a group of individuals that want the field to be used rather than sitting vacant and neglected. There have been no agricultural activities on this land for many years so we are assured that this large field can be utilized for organic farming and plant growth.  With these two fields we are optimistic that we have a good start as far as supporting Dr. Pinto in growing his medicinal plants and continuing his so needed work to heal the population in the slum area.  
Our immediate next steps in the project are as follows:
1)      To visit the fields and organize weed clean up and planning the appropriate plants to plant in the respective fields
2)      To continue with the administrative aspect of Sewadars such as update and perfect the power point presentation for larger groups such as Chevron, Total and other leading corporation as well as government offices such as Ministry of Social Affair (Poverty Department) and other already well funded NGOs that want to assist local projects
3)      To continue our search for qualified volunteers and staff for the  school/orphanage
4)      Find a location close to Luanda city for the actual school location
There are many more steps of course but these are the more urgent and if any one of you wants to assist us in anyway please contact us as we need an army of people to create a change. We are in need of support financially, with manpower, web support to create and host a website and of course always your well wishes and positive energy to keep us uplifted and our spirits focused.

Yoga Classes
Our classes were paid in full within two weeks of us starting to teach in February. We feel positive about that Kundalini and our Hatha classes have a place here in Luanda. We still have room for drop ins so those of you who live here in Luanda please come by on Tuesdays and Thursday nights 7:45pm-8:45pm. Most people are very interested in the Kundalini style because it is so different and of course so effective on all realms. Both of us feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to share our love for yoga and we feel this is really strengthening and deepening our own practice.  We love our students and appreciate their enthusiasm and effort in learning more and staying open to the effects of yoga. Though we are at the starting stages of building the community we feel that we have our little group of yogis that are committed and genuine about experiencing life through yoga. Angola has many complexities and yoga is a form of relaxation that we strongly believe can offer peace and relief to some of the external problems that the population is faced with.
Marimba Experience
Yes, you see right Claudio Lamsa is performing live at the Angolan Museum of Anthropology .  We went there as we heard that there was this great Marimba teacher offering classes to people. When we arrived Claudio Lamsa was thrown right into live performance with the teacher and one of his students with him since many years.  It was amazing to hear how good the three of them sounded and for Claudio Lamsa to experience the joy of performing live and improvisational like that. There was no time to practice only that the teacher was able to show one or two quick movements and beats before he basically said “sit here and play now we have to perform because the visitors are coming through”. Also some of the visitants that were passing through the exhibits got so taken by the music they started dancing with the local traditional dance style (see pictures).  Even donations by the crowd were given as the performers do not make enough with the museum salary. Claudio Lamsa of course donated his share to the teacher and the students J.The Marimba is a local instrument from Malanje and ironically the family lineage of Claudio Lamsa is from this province so when the Museum director who was guiding the foreign groups through the museum introduced the group he also said that Claudio Lamsa was a local from the area of Malanje. He was introduced as a group member of the Marimba group and as a local Angolan, what else can a performer ask for?

Fun facts about the Marimba from Wikipedia;

The traditional instrument

The marimba (also: Marimbaphone) is a musical instrument in the percussion family. Keys or bars (usually made of wood) are struck with mallets to produce musical tones. The keys are arranged as those of a piano, with the accidentals raised vertically and overlapping the natural keys (similar to a piano) to aid the performer both visually and physically.
The chromatic marimba was developed in southern Mexico and northern Guatemala[1] from the diatonic marimba, an instrument whose ancestor was a type of balafon that African slaves built in Central America.
Modern uses of the marimba include solo performances, woodwind ensembles, marimba concertos, jazz ensembles, marching band (front ensembles), drum and bugle corps, and orchestral compositions. Contemporary composers have utilized the unique sound of the marimba more and more in recent years.
The term marimba is also applied to various traditional folk instruments, the precursors of which may have developed independently in West Africa balafon. The tradition of the gourd-resonated and equal-ratio heptatonic-tuned timbila of Mozambique is particularly well developed. These instruments are typically played in large ensembles in coordination with a choreographed dance performance, such as those depicting a historical dramatization. Gyil duets are the traditional music of Dagara funerals in Ghana.
Traditional marimba bands are especially popular in Guatemala where they are the national symbol of culture, but are also strongly established in southern Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica, as well as among Afro-Ecuadorians and Afro-Colombians.

Click below to read a press release about the Marimba in Angola
Click below to see YouTube performances of the Marimba  
Click below to see 2year old Gambian Jail plays Kora and Balafon

Carnival Time
Who says you have to go all the way to Brazil for Carnival experience…. J The Carnival at the Marginal in Luanda was a mini Carnival in comparison to Rio De Janeiro but nonetheless an exciting one. What was so amazing to see is the mixture of poor and wealth people coming together to enjoy the carnival time. There were young and old dancing, laughing, performing together and having a blast. We became “celebrities” that day as we ended up on TV watching, enjoying with the crowd. It was a fun day filled with innocence and the basic element of human nature to just forget and have fun despite all the turmoil around their lives and the continent.

Fun facts about the origins of the Carnival and the meaning;

What is carnival?
It is an annual celebration of life found in many countries of the world. And in fact, by learning more about carnival we can learn more about ourselves and a lot about accepting and understanding other cultures.
Where did the word “carnival” come from?
Hundred and hundreds of years ago, the followers of the Catholic religion in Italy started the tradition of holding a wild costume festival right before the first day of Lent. Because Catholics are not supposed to eat meat during Lent, they called their festival, carnevale — which means “to put away the meat.” As time passed, carnivals in Italy became quite famous; and in fact the practice spread to France, Spain, and all the Catholic countries in Europe. Then as the French, Spanish, and Portuguese began to take control of the Americas and other parts of the world, they brought with them their tradition of celebrating carnival.
The dynamic economic and political history of the Caribbean are indeed the ingredients of festival arts as we find them today throughout the African and Caribbean Diaspora. Once Columbus had steered his boat through Caribbean waters, it was only a few hundred years before the slave trade was well established. By the early 19th century, some six million slaves had been brought to the Caribbean. Between 1836 and 1917, indentured workers from Europe, west and central Africa, southern China, and India were brought to the Caribbean as laborers.
African influences on carnival traditions
Important to Caribbean festival arts are the ancient African traditions of parading and moving in circles through villages in costumes and masks. Circling villages was believed to bring good fortune, to heal problems, and chill out angry relatives who had died and passed into the next world. Carnival traditions also borrow from the African tradition of putting together natural objects (bones, grasses, beads, shells, fabric) to create a piece of sculpture, a mask, or costume — with each object or combination of objects representing a certain idea or spiritual force.
Feathers were frequently used by Africans in their motherland on masks and headdresses as a symbol of our ability as humans to rise above problems, pains, heartbreaks, illness — to travel to another world to be reborn and to grow spiritually. Today, we see feathers used in many, many forms in creating carnival costumes.
African dance and music traditions transformed the early carnival celebrations in the Americas, as African drum rhythms, large puppets, stick fighters, and stilt dancers began to make their appearances in the carnival festivities.
In many parts of the world, where Catholic Europeans set up colonies and entered into the slave trade, carnival took root. Brazil, once a Portuguese colony, is famous for its carnival, as is Mardi Gras in Louisiana (where African-Americans mixed with French settlers and Native Americans). Carnival celebrations are now found throughout the Caribbean in Barbados, Jamaica, Grenada, Dominica, Haiti, Cuba, St. Thomas, St. Marten; in Central and South America in Belize, Panama, Brazil; and in large cities in Canada and the U.S. where Caribbean people have settled, including Brooklyn, Miami, and Toronto. Even San Francisco has a carnival!
Click on the right for the video of the Angolan Carnival

Political Tension

Days around the Carnival people also decide to rally against the ruling government and the current President Dos Santos. Though the hype and talks of that there could be something that would lead to an uprising the day of the event March 7th there was very few participants and it was a non violent demonstration. One of the things that possibly defused the demonstration was an effort on the part of MPLA, the ruling party in Angola for the last 30 years, by creating a peace walk the day before the scheduled uprising. The peace walk was to engage people in remembering that they are in peace times and that though there are problems in this country which is poverty stricken with majority of the youth unemployed, they are at least no longer at war. MPLA wanted to awoke the sentiment that no one wants violence and war again and that the uprisings would only lead to that. There were talks about that Angola would follow the footsteps of Egypt, Tunisia and Libya but many also speculated that the people of Angola were more afraid of the war again than overturning their President.  The 35 year war left a deep scar and people in Angola are now really just wanting to rebuild the country with hopes that they will eventually find a better democracy and better living conditions for the majority of the people rather than the few elite. This will take time to change but most are hopeful that it will occur even if not during their life time. The days before 7th March we were told to remain in the house and most offices and business were closed that day in anticipation of this demonstration. It was really interesting to hear the different opinions and speculations of people. Each had their own twist and version, some were really frightened (mainly expatriates or non Angolans, out of which few even left the country) while others were totally calm and confident that Angola would in no way follow the footsteps of the riots in the rest of Africa. Socioeconomic background also had an effect on the predictions of the people. The workers such as the drivers and non skilled workers though they too wanted peace to prevail were more vocal about their discontent for the government and support for the demonstrations than the more skilled and wealthy. We ourselves were a bit cautious, stayed home that day and kept a neutral mind about the whole thing. Nothing major happened and we hope to see that with time the people of Angola will be able to create the change that they are in need of and desire.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

2011, Faith in the Evolution of Humankind

Dear co-workers, supporters and friends of Sewadars,
We hope you entered the New Year with a breath of fresh air and with renewed energy.
2011 is going to be the year of delightful events, one of which is the upcoming international festival taking place on the foothills of the Himalaya at the holy bank of the Mother Ganga river in Rishikesh (India). This celebration, entitled “11.11.11” (see website, is going to be a 7-day gathering of music and Kundalini Yoga to celebrate the dawning of the Aquarian Age, which is the spiritual time the Earth is entering after 13’000 years of a materialistic experience, according to the sacred yogic scriptures called “Vedas”. We with friends and family will be attending provided all circumstances fall in place as planned. We invite all of you to contact us if you want to join our group as great teachers and musicians will be leading this event which hosted at the Parmarth Niketan Ashram.
For us, the beginning of the year was colored by an intense involvement of making contacts with local conscious leaders as well as humanitarian organizations and groups working here in Luanda. We found that though there are organizations set up and eager to serve, they are all faced with similar challenges such as funds, infrastructure and most of all lack of governmental support. Of course some of the larger well established organizations that have been here for many years have on going running programs but they are by no means extensive enough for the amount of work needed to reach the vast population living well below the poverty line. Just some numbers that international independent NGOs have come up with are:
-          65% of the population is below the age of 25 years and 90% of this age group has no formal education, jobs or livelihood.
-          60-70% of the population is illiterate with most of the young men having no chance of achieving their “manhood” (defined as being able to meet the cultural definition of a man in Angola would be financially providing for family such as children and wife, owning a home and holding a job.)
-          93% of the population is not using cooking gas or having access to government supplied gas lines or electricity so they are either breathing the fumes from the use of generator (the pulmonary diseases are high because of that) or cutting down trees for cooking use.  
As you can see there is lot of work needing to be done to raise the standard of living as the numbers are shocking, especially if you consider that the majority of the population is illiterate without a possibility for receiving good education or means to support themselves.
I.                    Kimbo Liombembwa
We went to interview the Non-Governmental Organisation Kimbo Liombembwa (see pictures on the right and click on the slideshow), which means “village of piece for the child” (see Friedensdorf International, The NGO was founded in 2001 by a German, Mr. Ronald Gegenfurtener, who passed-away two years ago. The mission is to go to the secluded villages (where sometimes even cars can not reach) in the countryside of Angola to look for injured or ill children caused by traumas from the war such as landmines, war injuries, malnutrition, insufficient healthcare etc. These children are selected based on their need of a heavy surgical intervention or the severity and complexity of their case that can not be attended to locally due to the financial background of the family and the local facilities. The children are then sent to hospitals in Dusseldorf (Germany) for their treatments which are financed through the charity. Each year two full airplanes are sending Angolan children in need of medical care to Germany. The organization manages to run the project despite the fact that they do not even have a proper office in place here in Angola. They are currently renting a bunker as an office to receive the parents of ill children coming to beg and plead for their children to be selected to be sent to Germany. The organization requires that all the documents brought at the time of application are original and certified by an official doctor. The material the NGO receives through the charity is stocked in a small room that the organization has available to them as courtesy of the catholic monastery next to their location (see pictures).
In two weeks we are invited by the representative Angolan doctor of the organization, Dr. Rosalino Neto, to go with him to one of these challenging expeditions in the countryside. We will keep you informed of the understandings and conditions after our visit. Based on the visit to this project, the success rate of the surgeries, children and families helped as well as the qualification of the doctors involved, we consider this type of NGO very important for the emergencies of the healthcare situation in Angola. However, we feel it is also extremely important to develop the adequate and necessary infrastructure here locally in Angola itself rather than of always having to depend on the goodwill and the “pity” of foreign countries.
II.                  Project Criskari Life-School
We heard about a Portuguese and Angolan woman who is feeding 200 to 250 children daily at the Mussulo Island (it is an island seen from the shores the mainland of Luanda).  One week later, we took the local boat to visit this mission in order to find out what it takes to feed so many children daily and to study how to provide healthy food and how to eliminate malnutrition by using local foods (see pictures on the right and click on the slideshow). Isabel Fontes Pires, founder of the project and author of the book “Inaandra, Quality of Life”, invited us warmly to her house which is surrounded by a beautiful little garden of local medical plants. She is also a member of the international humanitarian organization Rotary (see There is a Rotary Club in Luanda and we are planning to visit it next. Miss Pires is also a researcher in local healthy nutrition, vegan and Reiki Master. She is often invited by local newspapers or by the radio to share her visions and her knowledge about the holistic approach of life. Her daughter just opened the first store of organic food in Luanda.   
As soon as we arrived at her house, she gave us a bowl containing a yellow liquid. We had to rub this strange bitter homemade lotion all over the uncover parts of our body… it was our first experience of a natural mosquito repellant! She used the neem plant of her garden, simply boiled into water, to produce the so efficient “local spray”!
Then we walked through the beach passing small huts and shacks as well as wealthy beach bungalows to reach the facility she is running. The contrast between the rich and extremely poor is so prevalent everywhere in Luanda as well at the vacation spots such as this island. Reaching the main location we saw that it is a space provided by the local Catholic Church. In the main building they are cooking and feeding the children as well as teaching them as much as possible about the environment and the local plants and fruits that provide nutrients and vitamins. The two meals (breakfast and lunch) that she provides daily to the impoverished children of Mussulu are  vegetarian and  cooked with local vegetables. She believes that many of the illness stem from the processed food and the meat. She is providing vegetarian food to the children as an example of a healthy nutrition in order to teach the people not to forget the richness that is growing on their own land and that they do not need to eat all the imported meats and foods from neighboring countries, Europe and the USA. The vegetarian aspect was a great inspiration for us as our own project of creating a holistic school SEWADARS would be completely vegetarian as well (see posted text of December 2010 on this blog). We felt encouraged to see that the children were adapting very well to the food despite that the Angolan cultural after the Portuguese colonialism is a meat-eating culture.
The priority of the center is to focus on informing and teaching the young children about nutrition and the environment.  It was chocking for us to see so many children with a protuberant belly and yellow hair, two obvious signs of malnutrition (see pictures). Most of these children’s parents are unemployed, drug-addicts and alcoholics, a result of a wild capitalistic society that maintains wealth in the hands of a small group of the social elite resulting from post war.   
Facts: In the last decade of the colonial period, Angola was a major African food exporter but now imports almost all its food, which makes the food prices exorbitant and impossible for the majority local population to afford. Luanda in Angola is the world’s most expensive city, according to the latest Cost of Living Survey from Mercer (Tokyo is in second position). This is a leading cause to the increasing malnutrition and the high infancy and adult death rates. There is a major lack of government incentives for the local farmers or industries to cultivate and grow the local agriculture as most of the resources are focused on the build of roads, housing and other corporate interests such as the petroleum and diamond industries. The unemployed majority population is surviving only on white rice, manioc and beans eating maximum one meal a day with may be some bread and tea for breakfast. Hard fact to face is that most of the Angolans can barely afford to eat one meal a day not because their country can not produce the food but rather because their local agriculture is not prioritized yet. Angola is the one African country that has the most rivers and rain fall in the continent. It is naturally a country full of recourses and a rich agricultural environment but again lacking the support to grow it.

III.                Dr. Pinto, herbalist and chemical doctor
Some days after our arrival to Angola, during a family week-end at the beach of Mussulu Island, a friend who had joined us told me, after knowing of our interest for natural medicine, that he has an acquaintance who is a very qualified herbalist. He said: “Even people from the Government come to see this doctor who lives in one of the poorest area of Luanda, and if you want to visit him, you have to meet him very early in the morning because he is treating patients all day long…”
Few days later, we took the 4x4 Toyota for our expedition in the very heart of the pulsating population of Luanda. It was a day after the rain and the already challenging streets made of dirt were just overflowed by water (see pictures of the slideshow). The imposing trash was coming even more out of this chaotic and almost apocalyptic slum area we were crossing in our comfortable car… what a crazy world of dualities and illusion we are living in. Some are enjoying extreme luxury, some are sitting in the trash all day long and even eating it, like this old man we saw from the window of the car in our way to, sitting in the middle of an amount of stinking trash.  On our way back, six hours later, he was still there, at the exact same place, not having moved from an inch!
Dr. Pinto is working in a little room just opposite to a catholic church (see video clip of chant on the right of local women practicing at the church). As you can see all our visited projects are able to function somewhat based on the good will of the local churches and their very limited space. There is a HUGE need for charities and funds for projects like this and Sewadars. Dr. Pinto has treated, since 2001, 13’269 patients all through natural medical treatments. Being a certified doctor in conventional medicine as well, he still treats his patients with phytotherapy, homeopathy and with natural local plants, something he learned and inherited from a long lineage in his family. His grandmother taught him most of what he knows regarding his understandings of the local Angolan plants. He was also taught by Brazilian priests how to use the pendulum (see picture) and bio-energy for healing, a tool he uses consistently as a guide for listening to the patient and being guided by the patient for the best suited treatment for their illness.  His practice of natural medecine since 28 years has given him an expensive knowledge about all the local diseases such as thyroid, polio, malaria, parasitizes, cholera, and how to treat them with local medicinal plants, where to find them in the jungle and how to prepare them (see picture of the Aloa Vera plant, called here “Chandala”). Unfortunately, his laboratory is a minuscule room with only three little beds to dry the healing leafs and roots and some plastic bottles to create the mother-tint for the homeopathic pharmacy. He is struggling since years, with an Angolan society of natural healers, to legalize the traditional and natural medicine by the Angolan Government. Indeed, this way of treatment is repressed by the western allopathic vision here and he has faced many challenges for his cause.  
We decided to verify the accurateness of his work by using Jasmine as a guinea pig (see pictures of the diagnostic). After the required two weeks of treatments with homeopathy and vegetal teas of “mussequenho”, “umondoluo” and “assa-peixe”, the persistent diarrhea and the fainting sensations Jasmine had faced on our arrival to the country disappeared completely.
Dr. Pinto told us that he wants the Angolan people to rise in the knowledge of the richness they have and that’s why he is interested to collaborate with us for the creation of our Sewadars School so that he can take the lead of the medical care of the orphanage. The next steps are:
-          Finding a field where to build the holistic school and orphanage
-          Finding a competent principal for the academic courses of the school
-          Find sponsors and investors to start the construction
-          Find an open-minded teacher for each teaching program, including arts, music and organic farming
-          We will be responsible for the yoga and the holistic aspect of the school and orphanage
As for now, we asked Dr. Pinto to create a list of all the different medical and highly nutritional plants to start a teacher-training book. Therefore we need for now concretely:
-          a camera and a laptop computer for Dr.Pinto to start to put his knowledge on the paper, to reduce the validity of the African axiom: “When an African old man dies it’s an entire library that dies.”
-          a projector for the promotion and presentation of our project to raise funds
If you have or you know about an eventual possibility of getting these items for this cause, please contact us by email, thank you very much! We of course also welcome funds to purchase these items however everything in Angola is 4-5 times the cost of purchasing in Europe of USA. We can get Angolans that travel abroad to purchase these items and bring so we just need community effort to start with these items to get the energy going either via funds or donation of the items themselves. Even if each blog visitor pledges to donate a few dollars it will go far. We are making many efforts to raise funds now and we need everyone to participate that can and would like to. Sewadars has an account set up with WellsFargo in the USA and is registered under Jasmine Rence as a NGO.
Thank you for your support and for all the well wishes we received from you for our success in moving the project forward.
Warm regards,
Jasmine Kaur and Claudio Lamsa
Thought Meditation: “See the brotherhood of all mankind as the highest order of Yogis; conquer your own mind, and conquer the world.” – Japji Sahib

Friday, December 17, 2010

Looking for sponsors to open a Sewadars Center in Luanda

Dear Followers and Supporters of our humanitarian project Sewadars and Kundalini Yoga,

We arrived in Luanda, the capital of Angola, on November 30th. During these two weeks of physical and psychological readjustment to the country and reacquainting with Lamsa’s Angolan family, we already made major first steps for the realization of our vision.
What is chocking us the most here is the extreme divergence and contradiction between the rich and the poor society.  An average taxi-driver or a house-cleaner earns USD $300 a month and an employee in a bank USD $3000  to USD $5000, while the rent of an average 4-rooms-appartment is USD $1500 a month. Therefore, many of the rich people have businesses by side and many of the poor people still live in the slums (see pictures slideshow).
Secondly, the governmental social projects are very limited, because the country is orienting its funds into the urban rebuilding. Indeed, Angola’s economy has undergone a period of transformation in recent years, moving from the disarray caused by a quarter century of civil war to being the fastest growing economy in Africa and one of the fastest in the world. We visited the only center that the State offers in Luanda for children and babies that are found on the street or abandoned by their families, Lar Kuzola (see first pictures slideshow). It counts for 260 children that are waiting to be relocated in some orphanage or hospital for physical or mental trauma treatment. It doesn’t include any psychologist, social worker or permanent Doctors; they have a complete lack of financial support and of qualified staff. Fortunately, some nuns (see picture) are giving their heart and life since ten years to run the center 24/7, frequently woken-up during the middle of the night to receive a baby found on a side-walk somewhere in the streets. For the moment, the organizations that are managing the best humanitarian work are definitely the private ones, like the churches, local leaders and some international NGO’s.
Our first step is to visit various humanitarian projects that are related to children and to understand the problematic issue caused by the war in order for us to know where to focus most of our energy and actions. We need to know what is needed! We continue our Sadhana (spiritual practice) persistently because we believe that Life and The Divine is the only force that can help; we as human can only be servants and channels of this force. We already found the possibility to teach Yoga in a center and will start next week. We trust that after this opportunity the evolution of our vision will continue to take it’s natural course.
As far as the progress of our Foundation Sewadars (“servants” in Gurmukhi language), we decided to extend the activity of it: it will no longer focus only on raising funds for already-existing projects, but we will also create a physical place here in Luanda, in the form of a spiritual school. We are presently looking for a hall to rent or to buy in the city, where we will be able to start the early-morning spiritual practices, the yoga and local traditional spirituality classes (invite local teachers), nutrition and natural medicine classes (including indigenous ways of healing), baby-massage classes and meetings for children and parental education of consciousness (traditional values on ecology, Angolan culture, the roles of woman, man, mother, father, etc.). This hall will be the city point of our vision.
At the same time, we plan to find a field in the countryside, close to Luanda, where we will extend the vision of the project. This place will be the base of the center. It will work on three aspects:
1. Natural Medicine 
2. Spiritual Teachings  
3. Humanitarian Work
The center is dedicated to providing the Angolan population with the:

I. Knowledge of healing and staying healthy naturally, coming from various traditions of the world but enhancing the local traditional medicine.

II. Knowledge of human psychology and spiritual teachings/yoga coming from all over the world, but most of all enhancing the local knowledge already existing in the Angolan tradition in order to heal the traumas of a post-war population and to create a strong spiritual, mental, emotional and physical generation. The purpose is to support Angola to lead by example for Africa, showing a powerful material AND psychological stability in a country which has been able to transcend from a state of suffering through oppression and war lasting for 430 years, into a state of peace, consciousness and healthy competitive productivity.

III. An example of how to "walk the talk" by promoting humanitarian work:

- run an orphanage which is incorporating the ethical values of the center
- grow and distribute food supplements such as Spirulina (a blue green algae, which has a high protein and mineral content) for programs to eradicate hunger and to increase the immune system of the population
- give education to children of the street and involve them in the businesses of the center. The experiences the students will gain while participating in this program will assist them in making the transition from school to work and will allow them to develop entrepreneurial skills that will be transferrable to any job in the future.
- create healing programs for post-war traumas and run them in the respective places: hospitals, social centers, private and governmental humanitarian projects, etc.
- valorize the old generation by giving them an efficient platform of expression (interviews, story-telling programs in schools) and by involving them in the actions of the center

One of the main business incomes of the center will be the production and selling of Spirulina. We contacted the beautiful spiritual community of Auroville in South India (see to receive some advice about their powerful Spirulina program. I will take charge of the businesses related aspects of the center and Jasmine Kaur will be the manager for the center itself. Both of us will work on presenting the project and find sponsors at the same time as teaching at the school. The final local aim is to train and find teachers (yoga, nutrition, parental education, etc.) and managers so that the center can become independent. But for the moment, we are looking for sponsors who can help us to start the project.      
Jasmine Kaur has started her work as a pilot here (see pictures); she is flying corporate for a private company. In one week, she already saw delightful landscapes of the country and eight different cities with their airports (some of them having astonishing runways J! See pictures). This morning she had to fly to Johannesburg South Africa. We will try to keep you informed as often as possible, at least once a month, of our progress and we are looking forward to receiving your support, comments, emails, suggestions, advice and your subscriptions as “Followers” of the blog (click on the bottom right). We send you our most genuine and warm greetings from a place of the world that is an intense example of the battle forces that are occurring during this worldly period of time, when Humankind has to do its sharp decision between continuing a path of ignorance or, finally, blossom itself into a flower of Consciousness.
SAT NAM (= “Truth is my Identity” in Gurmukhi),
Jasmine Kaur and Lamsa Claudio
Thought Meditation: Only in complete relaxation will you realize what is real and what is illusory. Physical and mental relaxation will reveal both. To see clearly, you need to be still and look inside. For us here in Luanda, it’s a perfect surrounding to practice this truth.

A brief overview of Angola

-     Capital: Luanda
-     Official language: Portuguese
-     Area: 1.246.700 km2, world’s 23rd largest country (twice the size of the US state of Texas)
-     Population: 18.498.000
-     Religion: 47% indigenous beliefs, 38% Roman Catholic, 15% Protestant
-     Climate: Tropical Wet Climate, with two seasons; winter dry season (May to October, 60°F/16° on the coast) and summer hot rainy season (November to April, 70°F/21°C on the coast)
-     243 airports, of which 32 are paved
-     Angola was a Portuguese overseas colony from 1575 to 1975, 400 years. After independence, Angola was the scene of an intense civil war from 1975 to 2002. This devastating civil war, which lasted several decades, claimed millions of lives and refugees, destroyed the fertile countryside, leaving it littered with landmines (it was the 2nd country in the world with the most landmines).
-     The country is the second-largest petroleum and diamond producer in sub-Saharan Africa; however, Angola has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world and the world’s 2nd lowest life expectancies.
-     Literacy is quite low, with 67.4% of the population over the age of 15 able to read and write in Portuguese (82.9% of males and 54.2% of women in 2001).
-     Angola’s economy has undergone a period of transformation in recent years, moving from the disarray caused by a quarter century of civil war to being the fastest growing economy in Africa and one of the fastest in the world. In 2004, China’s Eximbank approved a USD $ 2 billion line of credit to Angola. The loan is used to rebuild Angola’s infrastructure (see Chinese workers on the pictures), and has also limited the influence of the International Monetary Fund in the country. Angola is now China’s biggest supplier of oil.
-     Angola scored poorly on the 2008 Ibrahim Index of African Governance. It was ranked 44 from 48 sub-Saharan African countries, scoring particularly badly in the areas of Participation and Human Rights, Sustainable Economic Opportunity and Human Development.
-     Among Angola’s major problems are a serious humanitarian crisis (a result of the prolonged war: thousands of Angolan small-scale farmers are trapped in poverty), the abundance of minefields, and the actions of guerilla movements fighting for the independence of the northern exclave of Cabinda. While most of the internally displaced have now returned home, the general situation for most Angolans remains desperate, and the development facing the government challenging as a consequence.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Dear Sangath,
We are grateful to have begun our journey with a strong foundation in the beautiful community of the Espanola Ashram. These are some pictures that we took during our stay, please click on the slideshow on the right and it will redirect you to Picasa website, there you can view the pictures enlarged and download as you wish. It was an incredible experience of attending daily Sadhana, taking music and Gurmukhi classes, doing Karma Yoga and learning about the Sikh Dharma. We were fortunate to have attracted great teachers, lovely friends and tremendous support from the community to strengthen our practice. This connection will aid us on our journey to Angola-Africa, as our vision is to create a Kundalini community and spread Yoga in that region. Thank you to all of you for your well-wishes, blessings and most of all teachings and inspiration. A special thanks to Bibiji for having sent us the books to get started with the Gurdwara ceremonies and for her support in building a community in Angola.

Currently we are in Wichita-Kansas as many of you know. Jasmine is completing her studies for the aircraft she will be flying in Angola and I (Lamsa) am completing a project management course for the business projects that we will begin there. We are compiling and constructing our plan with excitement and trust that The Divine is guiding us. Our Hukam for this new chapter of our lives starts with "Meditate on the Lord, Har, Har, O mind; don't forget Him, even for an instant." (page 925 in 5665)

Many of you expressed a desire for us to blog about our progress as we pursue our vision. We will update you on this blog periodically, so please create this as a link and become a follower of our blog! We invite you to comment, write and guide us either on this blog by posting or emailing to us at: (Jasmine Kaur Rence) (Lamsa Claudio Da Silva)

Thank you for your blessings, support and love, please stay in touch as we miss the community already.