Doing Good: Yoga Stops Traffick

So We Flow... Interview with Yoga Stops Traffick

This month we had the pleasure of speaking to founder, Jemina Talja, and the incredible folks at Yoga Stops Traffickan annual campaign uniting yoga practitioners across the globe to take a stand against human trafficking. Dozens of yoga studios run donation based events and classes during the YST campaign date in March every year. The funds raised from the events go to supporting survivors of human trafficking and the Odanadi Seva Trust - a pioneering anti-trafficking organisation based in Mysore, South India (the birthplace of modern yoga in case you didn't know...).

Yoga Stops Traffick little bot

Odanadi works for the rescue, rehabilitation and reintegration of trafficked women and children. For the past 25 years Odanadi has been committed to providing a safe haven for survivors of human trafficking, sexual exploitation, slavery and domestic abuse.

With the support of Yoga Stops Traffick, Odanadi Seva Trust have:

  • Rescued and rehabilitated more than 12,000 women and children
  • Carried out 422 brother raids 
  • Educated tens of thousands of children, men and women about sexual exploitation
  • Returned 1380 missing children to their families
  • Brought 385 traffickers to justice
2020 is Yoga Stops Traffick’s 10th anniversary year and they are hoping to see more than 120 events and donation based yoga classes take place across the globe. If your yoga studio could dedicate a donation based class for Yoga Stops Traffick in March 2020 please give them a shout at: 
Yoga Stops Traffick girl meditating

Whilst Yoga Stops Traffick is about raising funds to support survivors of trafficking and the anti-trafficking work, it’s not just about money, it’s also about showing the survivors of human trafficking solidarity by standing beside them across the globe. The survivors often face prejudice and discrimination in their communities because of their history in brothel work and the stigma attached to trafficking. (as if they don't have enough to deal with!) This is why they find global support like this especially valuable. 

First of all, tell us about your background and how you got to where you are today.

I’m the CEO of a very small charity called Adventure Ashram. We support grassroots projects in India with a focus on anti-trafficking, accessible healthcare and education for vulnerable children. In 2018 we took on Yoga Stops Traffick, which had been run for several years by two amazing volunteers and founders of the campaign. My background is in international development and charities and I practice yoga regularly.

What’s the biggest challenge you face working in the industry you do?

As always there is a lot of noise in the world and it is difficult to get your message through this at times. The charity sector as a whole is also faced with a great deal of negative press (sometimes fair, often unfounded), which has eroded people’s trust in charities. Competition for people’s attention and time is fierce. Whilst we know what a life changing difference the support we receive makes in India we need to work extremely hard to get this message across to the wider audience. For a very small team of 3 PT staff and volunteers this is a mammoth task. But an enjoyable one as well!

What makes you optimistic about the future of movement and wellness?

We have had such a positive response to Yoga Stops Traffick everywhere we have turned to. Yoga studios and yoga businesses are so supportive and have really enjoyed getting involved and being a part of the global YST community. This unity, commitment and love for the fellow human really warms my heart. In this work you get to see both the worst and the best that humanity has to offer.

What type of movement do you practice yourself?

I practice yoga regularly, even though I find it sometimes challenging with two young children at home. I used to really enjoy wall climbing and hope to get back into that one day soon.

Yoga Stops Traffick boy doing yoga

Who - individual or organisation - is inspiring you at the moment?

I’m inspired by the amazing volunteers at Yoga Stops Traffick. We have a handful of dedicated, driven and brilliant young women helping us spread the word about the campaign and do anything they can to support the cause. Their passion is infectious! Similarly I am inspired by the young women, girls and boys at Odanadi. The horrors they have gone through in their lives have obviously affected them and left a mark but their resilience is fierce and their sisterhood/brotherhood is indestructible. These young women and men will grow up to do amazing things for their fellow beings!

How do see Yoga Stops Traffick evolving in the future?

We hope to see more and more yoga studios and individuals take part in Yoga Stops Traffick and create a truly global movement bringing together yoga practitioners for a mutual cause. We hope to see Yoga Stops Traffick recognised as the number 1 ‘yoga lovers charity’ across the globe. Ultimately we want to help reach and support more survivors of human trafficking and those at risk. Please do consider getting involved if you can!

Short Story

Born: Finland
Lives: South England - West Sussex/Surrey border
Career: CEO of Adventure Ashram & Yoga Stops Traffick. Plus a long history of working with different charities.
Likes: Keen interest in international development. Books, live music, vegetarian/vegan cooking, sunshine & warm evenings and yoga of course!

Yoga Stops Traffick large group doing yoga
If this gets you going, please visit Yoga Stops Traffick if you would like to take part.

Doing Good

In this interview series, we talk to the incredible individuals using movement to create positive change in their community and the world.


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