The Poem Travels to Africa

The Season of Light and Generosity

With the support of the Kula for Karma community Penni Feiner, Executive Director of Kula for Karma, traveled to Africa in 2010, taught meditation, breath work, chanting, and yoga postures, and offered 100 Rwandan genocide survivors the gift of yellow tee shirts with “Imagine a Woman” poem printed in English on the front side of the tee, and translated into Kinyarwandan, the Rwandan language, on the back.

Because many of the women weren’t able to read or write, the Rwandan translator read the poem out loud. The faces of the women lit up as Gyslaine’s voice moved from stanza to stanza. After the first reading of the poem, the women broke out into song and dance. They sang, “Warakoze Mana, Icyubahiro Ni Icyawe,” which means “Glory be to God. Thank you God. Praise be to God.”

As Penni listened to their song, she became determined to understand its meaning, commit it to memory, and create a chant to offer back to the women she and her team would meet in the days to come.

When back at the guesthouse, Penni grabbed her guitar and started to sing, etching the women’s song into her mind. She invited some of the young children to sing the song into her I Phone in order to perfect her pronunciation.

After working, reworking, and fine-tuning, Penni memorized the women’s song, which became the soul of a new chant to offer the women the next day at their session. As she sang the song/chant the next day, inspired by the women’s own song, the faces of her students glowed. They were delighted and deeply affirmed as they received the gift of their words echoed back to them by a sister from another continent.

What “deep and meaningful” (D&M) gift will you offer those around you during this season of light and generosity? Do you have a song, dance, poem, suggestion, massage, or skill to share with your circle of friends, colleagues, and clients? Do you have time and energy to volunteer at non-profits such as Kula for Karma in New Jersey and Community Action House in Holland, MI,  doing good work in your community?

Be inspired by Penni to do more D&M giving and acting, thinking and doing during the months of November and December! Share your adventures in giving on our Facebook Fan Page.

Penni Feiner is the Executive Director of Kula for Karma, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that offers therapeutic yoga, meditation instruction, and stress management support services—at no charge—to those who have been challenged by difficult circumstances, including addiction and abuse. Their mantra is: KULA (community) + KARMA (selfless service) = A Better World For Everyone! Visit their website:

Patricia Lynn Reilly is the founder of Imagine a Woman International. IAW International was delighted to partner with Kula for Karma on their trip to Rwanda in June 2010. We’re imagining into being more opportunities for the poem to partner with them in service of the world’s women. Visit for inspiration, opportunities, and support.

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