When you meet a real advocate and a true activist, you just know.
Samson Muhalia Angweye is one of these real advocates and true activists: not only has he dedicated his career and life to taking meaningful action, engaging in purposeful work, and creating impact and positive change, he does these things from a space of tremendous warmth and care, and you can feel how his actions are conscious, mindful actions aligned with a depth of centeredness in his purpose.
For over two decades, Samson has been working for nonprofits in villages and communities in his home country of Kenya. For 12 years, he worked for Habitat for Humanity Kenya and was a part of building over 350 homes. Then, for 10 years, he worked for the Africa Yoga Project, and during that time founded and created the service project arm of the organization, ultimately organizing and bringing to fruition 32 service projects – building classrooms, playgrounds, desks, bathrooms, and other buildings – with volunteers from all over the world.
It was during his time as a Construction Supervisor for Habitat for Humanity that he met Suzie Newcome – Founder and Owner of Namaspa Yoga Community – 24 years ago when she went on a trip to Kenya in 1998 to build homes as a Habitat for Humanity volunteer. Suzie shares: “When I met Samson, I had just graduated from Harvard Business School. I had been hired by Bain Consulting, and they sponsored me to do the Habitat trip to Kenya. At the time, I was doing yoga occasionally at the gym, and had started learning about meditation, but I was focused on my corporate career. Samson and I formed a bond when he helped me fix my camera. I had brought my mom’s old Pentax manual-wind camera, with a new 400x zoom lens, to capture memories from the trip. One morning, during our build, the wind mechanism on the camera got stuck. I was so distraught, thinking that we would be going on safari soon and I wouldn’t be able to take photos. Samson saw me looking sad and asked me what was wrong. I told him and he offered to take me to the local village, Chuka, to get my camera fixed. We had to wait by the road and catch a “matatu” – a small truck that picked people up – to get there. We found the camera shop, and had lunch while we waited for it to be fixed -- which it was, thankfullly! Samson and I have been friends ever since.” About that trip and that build, Samson also shares: “This group of only women built 12 houses in one week!”
Through their connection in Kenya and through staying in touch, Suzie later connected Samson with the Africa Yoga Project, which was getting ready to open its first studio in Kenya. Not only did he
join the Africa Yoga Project Kenya team, he also started practicing and studying yoga himself, as well as attending yoga teacher trainings with Suzie’s help, support, and sponsorship of and for his studies and trainings. Suzie and Samson were finally reunited physically for the first time since 1998 when Suzie traveled back to Kenya to assist an Africa Yoga Project teacher training in 2015, and now, he has traveled to Bend several times since then.
At the end of his contracted work with Africa Yoga Project, Samson was in the U.S. attending a Level 3 yoga teacher training with Baron Baptiste, when he, for the first time, encountered a ‘dry compost’ toilet at his host’s home in Pennsylvania, and his first thought was: “I have to take this to my village and introduce this in Kenya!” Around this time, in his contemplations about what kind of work would be next for him, he had the realization that, after applying his passion, talents, and skills at nonprofits he cared deeply about for over 20 years, he wanted to go home and start his own organization. And that’s how Humanure Kenya was born.
Samson took the spark he felt seeing the dry compost toilet in Pennsylvania and began learning more, making plans, and formally creating a nonprofit organization. The intention and mission of Humanure Kenya is to help schools and slum communities have better sanitation through the construction of Humanure Compost Toilets. And through the transformation of the waste, Humanure Kenya then supports farmers and farms by selling and giving the soil to grow crops. On the Humanure Kenya website, it shares about what they are doing as being at the forefront of modern sanitation solutions and organics recycling: “People don’t question the use of animal manure in a garden, but the idea of utilizing humanure in agriculture typically produces a negative response. But this is due to lack of information and education around the processes we use. In fact, Humanure composting is not much different than composting ordinary food scraps or leaf litter. And unlike the use of some untreated soils,which are applied directly to crops and fields – not to mention the use of chemical fertilizers – our composting processes convert organic toilet material into a safe and hygienic soil treatment through containment, heat treatment and storage time, and a combination of low-tech procedures and natural processes that destroy harmful pathogens and act as a powerful natural, chemical- free fertilizer. Plus, in sustainability terms, Humanure composting ’closes nutrient loops’ by returning valuable nutrients and carbon back into the soil to restore soil health and fertility.”
Since founding Humanure Kenya 5 years ago in 2018, and formally starting operations and projects in 2019, Samson and his small team of local contracted carpenters, part-time office administrator, and volunteers have completed 32 humanure projects in 4 counties. And you’ll see from the photos that each project is not just a single toilet, but usually a small bank of stalls. In our eyes, these are already huge impacts! In Samson’s eyes, he wants to do even more! His vision is for Humanure Kenya to own land in the near future where all of the composting and treatment of the waste can be done and where young people can come work, enjoy good employment, and learn skills to take into their lives and back to their communities. In this vision, Humanure Kenya would own and operate a small fleet of trucks that would travel to all of the sites where they’ve built toilets, collect the waste, and bring it back to the treatment systems on the land.
In order to keep moving toward his vision, nearly every year since founding Humanure Kenya, Samson has come to the U.S. on an annual fundraising tour-of-sorts, which helps support the current and ongoing activities and projects of the organization, as well as the movement toward and achievement of this bigger vision. Ongoingly, Samson is in touch with contacts and dear friends like Suzie from all over the U.S. – volunteers he met through Habitat for Humanity and Africa Yoga Project, as well as his extensive yoga teacher trainings – and each year he plans a trip to multiple cities where he teaches yoga and and shares about Humanure Kenya and its projects.
This year, he will arrive in the states in early October and stay for about a month, traveling to and giving workshops and talks in California, Oregon, New York, Massachusetts, and New Jersey.
And aren’t we so privileged and lucky that Namaspa in both Bend and Redmond are stops on his journey!
Samson is offering chair yoga workshops, based on the 6 movements of the spine; a chair yoga teacher training workshop; and will also be teaching two regularly-scheduled classes.
Chair Yoga with Samson, $25
Chair Yoga Teacher Training with Samson, $25
Power Flow with Samson
Wednesday, October 11, 5:45pm @the Redmond studio
Saturday, October 14, 9:30am @the Bend studio
We hope you’ll join us for one or more of these offerings with this wonderful and passionate individual! Proceeds from the workshops go directly to Samson and Humanure Kenya’s projects. Let’s support Samson and his team to keep making an impact and reaching their future vision!