How a Nepal quake survivor from Hong Kong is using yoga to reach those in need

In a rather unconventional yoga session on Aug. 15, more than 40 Hongkongers donned headphones on for a silent disco/workout/meditation to raise funds for Nepal.

Yoga pioneers the Whoopee Club ran the event in support of charity The Acts of Kindness Collective (AOKC), a non-profit founded by Hong Kong resident and Nepal earthquake survivor, Justin Cava-Jones.

Taking place at the the Central Harbourfront, the fundraiser, Stretch & Shake, “successfully blended movement, music, cutting edge technology (through wireless headsets and a drone), and human connection in an outdoor city space on the harbour”, Cava-Jones proudly shared.

More than just “oms” and downward dogs, the Whoopee Club, together with female artists DJ MISSKT and DJSoulFunkee, led yogis into exploring multiple forms of movement – neon-lit hula hooping, free flow dancing and fluorescent poi flow-toys. Participants could tune into either DJ’s station via their individual Soundoff Headsets, all of which was brought together for a worthwhile cause.

Stretch and Shake was also held in Australia before the Hong Kong event and in the UK after to form a continuous fundraising formation.
  
Despite this global yogi flow participation, however, Cava-Jones said, “the world has moved on from Nepal, sadly.”

The same cannot be said for the British national himself. Experiencing the destruction of the quake first-hand, Cava-Jones says the tragedy changed his life.

It was in fact yoga that originally brought him and friend Eoin Cunneen to Nepal, as the pair hoped to set a world record for the highest acro-yoga routine at the Everest Base Camp… as you do.

The day of the quake, however, such plans were obviously abandoned.

“In the moment before it hit us I remember thinking, ‘Why are there dogs howling in the distance, and why are people now screaming?’ and then the earth became liquid below us and as it got stronger I remember thinking ‘Oh my god it must be an earthquake, and this could be the end,’” Cava-Jones told Coconuts HK.

 

The minute the earth’s plates shifted, the friends’ mission also shifted from one of gratification and achievement for themselves to one of rescue and rehabilitation for the affected local people.

“On returning to Kathmandu and witnessing the devastating aftermath there, and the lack of coordination or general help that was prevalent, I had the vision for The Acts of Kindness Collective while lying in bed, getting hit by aftershocks one morning,” Cava-Jones explained.

The charity has since taken solid steps to help those most in need in Nepal, including directly distributing supplies like rice and tents to people who lost everything in the 7.9-magnitude quake.


Eoin Cunneen loading rice that was delievered to Dhunibesi, Dhading 

One of AOKC’s greatest successes, “securing the use of an army helicopter to air-drop aid supplies to villages that were totally cut off, as the mountain roads were destroyed”, has seen the charity fulfill its short-term goals of “assisting those beneficiaries in Nepal that typically fall between the gaps of large NGO and government assistance”.

Another point of pride is AOKC’s act of putting 12 individuals on a training course to develop skills to empower communities back to prosperity and health. The organisation was also able to pay the USD800 hospital bill for skin grafts for baby Dawa, who was viciously attacked by a monkey while sleeping in a makeshift shelter.


Dawa post-surgery with his mother  

Among such positives, however, a big challenge remains: “getting enough money to help alleviate the suffering that still exists”.

Fortunately, fundraisers like “Stretch & Shake” are being well received by the Hong Kong community, and there is sure to be more to come.

For more information on the campaign and how you can help, visit the AOKC crowdfunding page
   
 


Got a tip? Send it to us at hongkong@coconuts.co.


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