Urban Zen Hosts Hope and Healing for Africa

Last Sunday, the Urban Zen Center offered “A Day of Wellness in Support of Africa,” infused with the spirit of Kageno, which means “a place of hope.” Kageno is the name of the unique organization that benefited from the event, using this crucial support to offer hope to Kenyans and Rwandans, struggling to build lives of dignity and sustainability in the wake of their countries’ AIDS crises. The day’s proceeds will benefit Kageno health and educational programs that serve over 11,000 villagers.

Urban Zen Foundation Director, Joanne Heyman, spoke to one hundred thirty yoga garbed participants, ready for a day of healing, learning, and yoga. Springtime shone forth on the sunny day for this gathering on the beautiful outdoor deck outside the Urban Zen loft space.

“Urban Zen is first and foremost about promoting healing,” Joanne said. “Whether it’s individual, familial, communal, societal, or global—or all of them, that’s what we’re about. So we couldn’t have a better match than Kageno.”

Kageno founder Dr. Frank Andolino told the group that Kageno’s four main areas of activity are education, health, income generation, and sustainability, sharing a delightful story of how all key areas intertwine in even the simplest aspect of their program.

In the small school they support, they have hired three HIV-positive women to prepare and serve the children a porridge, which is cooked on a fire fueled by brickets that community members make from recycled garbage. The brickets are sustainable, provide income to the villagers who make them, and are used to prepare healthy food in the school. The women are provided both income and health support, while serving the school children. Kageno’s natural ecology resonates with its community, and was inspired in part by the Partners in Health (PIH) model which was developed in Haiti by Paul Farmer, who serves on the Kageno Board.

During the day long UZ event, participants could self-select from among several concurrent healing options, available throughout the day. There was a lecture on cleansing, by leading doctor, Alejandro Junger, MD, whose book Cleanse became a bestseller after his book launch party at Urban Zen nearly a year ago. Anusara Yoga teacher, Jordan Mallah, led enthusiastic yogis and yoginis in a vigorous yet relaxing class. Recent graduates of the Urban Zen Integrative Therapist’s program (UZIT) offered yoga therapy, massage, and Reiki sessions which featured Young Living essential oils.

I experienced first hand the UZIT Reiki-oils session, which was totally restorative and relaxing. I was also fascinated by Dr. Junger’s presentation, because it’s so rare for a conventionally trained physician to champion detox. Having enjoyed a healthy lifestyle growing up in Uruguay, Dr. Junger attended medical school in the U.S. where he developed standard American nutritional and lifestyle habits, that ultimately caused his health to seriously decline. He inadvertently discovered the virtues of cleansing practices which allowed him to recover his own health, and subsequently, used them to support many of his clients in healing from a wide range of illnesses.

Cleansing is a vital, but often overlooked aspect of health care, especially now that research has revealed that 95% of all Americans carry toxins from chemicals, industry, products, and the environment, which researchers link to rising rates of everything from obesity to cancer. For the first time in 34 years, Congress is looking at governmental regulations that have proved inadequate to assure chemical safety—a great opportunity to limit the chemicals we need to detoxify, and give ourselves a real chance to heal.

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