Together with a group of 25 passionate souls we embarked on our second social mission trip this year – and ever. We were beyond excited and we had a feeling we would all benefit more than we knew by engaging in the activities we planned for the prolonged weekend. This is what we were acting upon in Latvia – paving the way for a brighter future for children that have grown up in institutions, too often short on tools to lift themselves and their surroundings and rise.
Several people that joined us this time have never travelled before, the majority have never been to the Baltics or done a mission trip.
But none of us have been right there, together, meeting children and youngsters- from Gaujiena Orphanage and SOS Youth House-, doing what we were doing – we were all on a journey of discovery about ourselves and our surroundings. This is what is so amazing with these trips. No matter our backgrounds, we all come together with good intentions and a blank page that we eagerly and passionately fill together.
Twenty three percent of Latvia’s children are living under the poverty line.
Giving children a loving environment is highly important for their overall wellbeing, but it is not always complete in preparing youth for independent futures into adulthood. Education and proficiency of life skills are key components to break the cycle of poverty and unemployment.
This social mission trip aimed to do two things; raise funds to provide children living in institutions with a proper education and give 109’ers first hand insight into the issue we are addressing and the potential of our joint efforts – all while exploring the beautiful country of Latvia and of course, practicing yoga every day!
During our 109 Education trip to Latvia, we held workshops on the basis of creativity, with the theme of envisioning a better future and manifesting one’s biggest dreams. So often children grow up under the preconception that they are not enough for what they really want to do in life, or they simply don’t know how to even begin. So our activities were planned to redirect this way of thinking, and in its stead, build self-confidence and self-worth.
Through 109’ers support, we have successfully raised funds to guarantee two youngsters a four year education! If you feel drawn to give what you can to help us grant another Latvian child a chance at education, please click here.
In the small country of Latvia, 109 World organized a mission trip that let participants discover this beautiful place and do our part in investing in children and providing them with education in order to enable them to become active citizens.
Our team was humbled to see our community coming together and reaching our goal of $40,000. Now two children will receive a four-year education preparing them for independent and sustainable living.
These were our different milestones:
- If we raise $8,000, we will be able to renovate and provide necessary material for the orphanage of Gauijena we visited in August 2015. Up to 17 children will then get a safer, more loving environment with their basic needs covered.
- If we reach $20,000 we will be able to do the above and make sure that one child will receive a four-year education preparing them for independent and sustainable living.
- If we reach $40,000 we will be able to do the above (Milestone 1) and make sure that two children will receive a four-year education preparing them for independent and sustainable living.
- If we reach $60,000, we will be to do the above but provide another four students with a proper education and mentoring thanks to the beautiful organisations Livslust and SOS Children’s Village Latvia.
Latvia is located on the Baltic Sea between Lithuania and Estonia. 40% of Latvia is covered by vast forests offering a haven for wildlife such as otter, beaver, lynx, wolves, deer, elk and wild boar. Latvia is full of history and cultural heritage. The language, Latvian, is one of the oldest in Europe and is related to the ancient Sanskrit language of India.
Jūrmala, where we stayed, means “seaside” in Latvian and is a town-resort not far from Riga. Jūrmala is often called “Latvian Riviera” for its long sandy beach framed by dunes and pine forests. During the period when Latvia was part of the Soviet Union, it was a favorite holiday-resort for high-level Communist Party officials. Many beach-houses and concrete hotels from that time still remain.
Drawing from her background as a Physical Therapist, Lara has combined her love of anatomy, creative movement and functional training to develop YogaStream, a powerful, challenging flow style that emphasizes anatomy, alignment and intelligent sequencing.
Movement has always been Lara’s favorite form of medicine, beginning with her early years as an athlete and dancer. She graduated from Duke University with a BS in Biological Anthropology and Anatomy and a MA in Physical Therapy, worked as a Physical Therapist and began teaching yoga in 1996. Lara’s passion for yoga transformed into a career and sparked a personal mission to help her students find their source of inner strength.
Lara owns YogaStream studio in Princeton, NJ and directs its YA-certified teacher training school. She leads international retreats, is a Lululemon ambassador and is a regular contributor to MyYogaOnline,MindBodyGreen, Elephant Journal and Mantra Yoga and Health. As a wellness enthusiast and a certified natural food chef, she can often be found experimenting in the kitchen or playing outdoors with her family.