Gaia Oasis Mountain Retreat: Giving back to the community…

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“Service to humanity is the source and goal of yoga”- a sentiment that inspires Rodney Sen and Mari Pizzinga, founders of the Yoga Travel Company.  The very essence of this phrase captures the pure intention behind their yogic ventures, both personally and professionally. Their involvement with numerous charities (as listed below), is a testament to this and is also one of the main motivations for choosing Gaia Oasis as a venue to host the annual Meet Your Maker yoga retreat in Bali. Both businesses are aligned by mutual values and intentions as you will discover…

The Gaia Oasis Foundation is a non-profit organisation in the north of Bali that supports education and environment projects in Tejakula and surrounding areas. Every dollar beyond covering minimal administration costs goes straight back to the community. Sabine Willard founded the idea 25 years ago and the Gaia Oasis Foundation came to life in 2007. She put it very simply, and rather humbly in saying, “One day I had a vision. I shared it with friends and noticed that many had a similar vision. That is why I believe, that it can manifest as a healing way of living together as a blessing for many.” The foundation has since grown and expanded in many directions – some of the projects they facilitate include:

– Education: Providing school lunches and scholarships to disadvantaged children in local schools, orphanages and kindergartens.

– Environment: coral reef conservation, waste management and recycling, organic farming and gardening, educating local farmers and fisherman, reforestation.

– Art & Culture: funding ashram and cultural programs for children including yoga classes, eco & English lessons and art workshops.

The ultimate vision of the Gaia Oasis foundation is to contribute to the healing of the planet, the spiritual awakening of its people, and to provide support and equal opportunity for education in the area.

The Yoga Travel Company couldn’t agree more and each year generously donates a percentage of guests’ investment for retreats here towards supporting the Gaia Oasis Foundation. On our recent retreat here in May, I met with Nona, administrator of the foundation, to find out more about their work and how the donation will help. This year, funds will go towards the children of Tejekula, specifically for education. She proceeded to tell me a story of a local family to shed some light on the economic and geographic circumstances in Tejakula, Bali…

Last week Nona visited a local family who cannot afford their own land, so consequently live on the farm where they work on the outskirts of the village. Their two children had been attending one of the local schools and Nona went to check-in on their progress. To her dismay, she was told that the children would not be able to return to school as they live too far away and can no longer afford the transport to take them. The whole area is volcanic mountain range, and walking several kilometres a day is simply out of the question for these children. The eldest is 13 years, and if he does not return, will most likely end up working on the farm alongside his parents.

It is scenarios like this where Gaia Oasis Foundation can assist and offer scholarships for education. These scholarships provide support for parents unable to put their children through school- for registration fees, school uniforms, and transport. The Gaia Oasis Foundation also provides stationary and school lunches to all children attending these local schools. It really is such an incredible initiative and the Yoga Travel Company are genuinely delighted to help better the lives and environment of the local community in Tejakula Bali.

If you would like to find out more information about the foundation, how you can help or to make a donation, click the following link- Gaia Oasis Foundation

Other charities Rod & Mari support- Communities Assist, Care, A Sound life, Medecins Sans Frontieres, Somaly Mam foundation, Mudgin Gal Redfern foundation, UNHCR, and the Salvation Army

Blog & Photography by Georgia Brownlee

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