Our 109 Animals Mission Trip to Aruba:
As any other country, Aruba also has it’s struggles. One of the biggest challenges the island is facing is the stray animal population. The number of neglected and abandoned dogs and cats wandering the streets is truly disturbing. Despite many efforts by countless organizations, the problem still remains.
So for this very reason 109 teamed up with local non-profit, Sgt Pepper’s Friends, who has been tackling this problem with incredible dedication and forethought, rescuing over 200 dogs and cats in a mere two years. If only this organization had a proper shelter, a home for every rescue to receive medical care and a safe haven, and for dedicated volunteers to come and contribute year-round; imagine all the lives that could be saved.
This is why we gathered 60 passionate animal activists from all over the world to work together for a week in Aruba, and through their support we have successfully raised US$ 47,000 to make Sgt Pepper’s Home a reality. The heartbreak from what we witnessed or hands-on experienced for six days was felt deeply and cleansed powerfully through practicing yoga side by side each morning. Compassion and determination filled the week as we connected closely through the mission we all came to Aruba for – the mission to save. Whether that was our own or the animal’s lives. Our hearts melted and our hearts shattered, each time releasing light that healed the puppies we cradled and the wounds our own souls had been carrying. So many of us fear not being enough or doing enough that we don’t even set out to try. But when we bravely take that first step, the next one naturally appears. Because we are all capable.
During our six days we rescued 11 puppies, 1 dog, 2 cats, 5 animals were adopted and 7 were transported to their forever home thanks to our participants. Because the mistreatments of animals stems from a cultural mindset, passed down to younger generations without questions, we also visited over a dozen classrooms, raising the conversation of what taking care of an animal, or a pet, could actually look like. As we shared, we noticed a theme in the eyes of some of the children: there is a fear that stems from the idea of separation. Of “I versus it”. In breaking down that wall, in highlighting all the similarities between a child and his dog, the fear began to dissipate.
We have the power to offer one animal a second chance at life, one child a more harmonious and less fearful perspective, another person the idea that they, too, are able to stand up and make a change.
Aruba lies just 15 miles off the coast of Venezuela. Known for its white sandy beaches and turquoise Caribbean waters, it is aptly nicknamed “one happy island”. Along the north shores of this little island is where 109 World manifested less than two years ago. Bringing our fourth ever social mission trip here was a full-circle that was both surreal yet natural. The problem that we noticed here sparked the very first ideas of the 109 mission: thousands of dogs and cats roaming the hot, dry streets – many barely surviving.
We teamed up with local non-profit, Sgt Pepper’s Friends, who has been tackling this problem with incredible dedication and forethought, rescuing over 200 dogs and cats in a mere two years. If only this organization had a proper shelter, a home for every rescue to receive medical care and a safe haven, and for dedicated volunteers to come and contribute year-round; imagine all the lives that could be saved. This is why we gathered 60 passionate animal activists from all over the world to work together for a week in Aruba, and through their support we have successfully raised US$ 47,000 to make Sgt Pepper’s Home a reality.
Located 15 miles north of Venezuela in the warm waters of the southern Caribbean, Aruba is home to beautiful white-sand beaches, cacti landscapes, 82-degree days, and some of the warmest people in the world.
The island is 19.6 miles long and 6 miles across, with a total area of 70 square miles. Unlike many islands in the Caribbean, the climate is dry and they rarely have a rainy day. On the south and west coasts of Aruba, you’ll find Oranjestad, the capital city, and miles of beaches that have been named some of the best in the world.
In the interior of the island, you’ll find Arikok National Park, a desert-like preserve with a variety of wildlife, cacti and dramatic rock formations. You’ll also find some of Aruba’s most striking views as the ocean crashes against the rugged shoreline below.
On the northeast coast along the windward shore, you’ll see our island’s unofficial mascots, the fofoti trees. The constant trade winds have permanently sculpted them into graceful, southwesterly bending forms.
Swedish native Rachel Brathen is a New York Times best-selling author, serial entrepreneur and international yoga teacher residing in Aruba. After graduating school in Stockholm she traveled to Costa Rica and it was here that she found the joy of incorporating yoga into her everyday life. Deepening her yoga practice and also taking her first steps towards teaching, she ended up moving to Central America where she spent years exploring the intricate studies of yoga and spirituality. After moving to Aruba early 2010 she started teaching yoga full time on this Caribbean island. Her classes are a dynamic Vinyasa Flow integrating alignment, core work, and breathing techniques with basic poses and creative sequencing. With over two million followers in social media, Brathen shares pieces of her life with the world every day and constantly travels the globe to connect with her community.
In addition to teaching worldwide, Rachel is the founder of www.oneOeight.com; an online platform for yoga, meditation, and healing. As the most successful crowd-funded yoga project of all time, the platform is made up of a vast community of dedicated practitioners from all over the world looking to cultivate balance, create space for inner healing and deepen their yoga practice. With an amazing team of experienced guides and teachers, oneOeight offers heart-centered classes designed to fit the always evolving needs of both body, mind and soul.