Africa

In War-Torn Somalia, Wellness Program Offers Peace After Violence

Even 15 minutes of daily meditation can help.

A survivor of violence in Somalia takes part in a wellness program
Voice of America
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Editors note: Newsy previously published a video about a wellness program for trauma survivors in Mogadishu, Somalia. The program combines breathing, stretching and meditation like yoga, but unlike yoga, the Mogadishu program does not include spiritual elements associated with traditional Hindu yoga practice. The program in Mogadishu was designed to abide by Islamic belief. In calling it yoga, we failed to consider that the term carries religious connotations that the Mogadishu program does not represent. We've removed our original video and updated the following article to reflect these nuances.

In Somalia, healing for survivors of sexual violence and other traumas may mean breaking cultural norms.

In the conservative country, women often can't play sports or do other athletic activities — especially around men.

Traditional methods of treating those who have gone through trauma usually involve counseling. But for survivors like those taking a wellness class, it can be hard to talk about what happened — especially in a conflict-ridden country.

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This wellness program in Mogadishu includes stretching, breathing and meditation. It's a little unconventional, especially because this kind of practice isn't trendy there. But instructors say even 15 minutes of daily meditation can start to help improve well-being.

Some of the participants are former child soldiers, and others have suffered various abuses.

Organizers say 300 come to the class every week.