Thembi Joja- In Pursuit of Her Dream
One of the hopes we have for our staff and campers at Camp Sizanani is that they follow their dreams and accomplish the goals they set for themselves in the future. One of our staff members is doing just that.
Thembi is one of our counselors at Camp Sizanani, and she has the ambitious dream of owning her own yoga studio in Johannesburg, and bringing yoga into her community in Soweto. She was first exposed to yoga at Camp Sizanani when Lisa Brodrick visited camp and taught yoga there for the first time. She realized the amazing potential yoga had to calm the nerves and help people cope with the stress of their everyday lives. People living in Soweto are in particular need of this type of coping tool, and Thembi recognized the opportunity to bring yoga to her community.
Since that first exposure to yoga at camp, Thembi maintained contact with Lisa and developed a plan to open her own studio. To gain experience, she has been hosting yoga workshops in Soweto for her friends. When asked what the biggest challenge has been for her on this road to being a yogi, she says she has had a hard time breaking into the market in Soweto. A lot of people are skeptical at first. Many people in Soweto believe that yoga is something that Indian people or rich people do. Some people even think yoga is a religion, and Thembi has had to explain that it is not a religion, but a lifestyle, and a tool for relaxation and focus, as well as good exercise.
Just as we are inspired by Thembi, we are equally as inspired by the other Vochellis who make it a point to attend Thembi’s yoga workshops. She has had a hard time convincing her contemporaries that yoga is a cool thing for black South Africans to do, and the Vochellis who show up shatter stereotypes, and offer the kind of support that an entrepreneur truly needs when venturing into a new market.
Thembi plans to come to the US this summer for a Kundalini yoga training retreat where she has been offered a scholarship to Radiant Child Family Yoga teacher training. When she completes her yoga instructor certification, she will be the first black South African to do so. This is part of what keeps her motivated.
Starting a business in South Africa comes with many challenges, and she is still seeking a mentor in South Africa to show her the ropes of starting a new business. At this point the big question is whether or not to run the studio as a non-profit organization or a commercial business. Thembi’s attitude is, “Why can’t I do both? - Run a business, and also bring yoga to the community at no cost sometimes.”
We are so excited to see what she decides. In the mean time, we are looking forward to seeing her this summer. If you’d like to show Thembi your support, check out the facebook page for Ethereal Yoga. Like the page to see updates on her project!
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Report from the field
Camp is only days away, and we are so excited. Our first ever all-female leadership team is poised and ready for action! Check out our facebook page and the blog on our website for live daily updates from camp. We will be sharing camp activities and stories from camp every day, and we can’t wait to have you join us for the whole week! Don’t forget to like us on facebook to get the live daily updates.