It is a soft pre-spring afternoon when five ladies, amongst them myself, gather around the dining table in an apartment in Cairo. Our purpose is to plan the launch of the new Cairo Health and Wellbeing Initiative.
The idea is to provide a network and meeting point where people can gather and find information that helps them to be healthier and more centered, and to connect people who are looking for health service with the best practitioners who can providing them. CHWI also aims to be a model of how people can work together and build community by supporting one another’s health. The Initiative will consist of a website that offers a directory of health centers and practitioners in and near Cairo. It will also provide general health information and promote workshops and events. We’ll also have a Facebook page and Twitter account.
My dear friend and teacher Leslie, founder of CHWI, immediately got me motivated to join once she mentioned the idea. I believe the Initiative is exactly what is needed in Cairo. When someone needs an alternative practitioner, the only resource one has is the advice of like-minded friends. I think it is fantastic that now all of Cairo’s best practitioners and centers can be collected and found in one place on the internet.
Leslie was born in Lima, Peru and grew up in the United States with a passionate interest in dance, theatre and esoteric practices. In 1986 she moved to Egypt, realizing the dream that had fascinated her since she was first exposed to ancient civilizations in history class. She has extensive experience in the field of health and wellbeing, having majored in Biochemistry and Psychology. During her years in Egypt Leslie authored the book ‘The Alchemy of Dance: Sacred Dance as a Path to the Universal Dancer’ and developed her main work the Universal Dancer through which she teaches Sacred Dance and Esoteric Wisdom.
“Somehow the idea for the initiative came up two years ago,” Leslie says. “A lot of what I do is networking, and I was often asked by people to promote their events.” She used to have experts from abroad come to Egypt to give workshops and teach others as well as herself, not being able to travel outside of Egypt due to the caring for her young children. “I came to realize that many people in the field of healing arts are more artistic than business-minded, and I started to mentor people using my own experience in promoting others and my own work.”
In 1995 Leslie opened one of the very first Centers for Health and Well-being in Egypt. “The Centre offers a sacred space for education and spiritual growth,” Leslie explains. “It started as a gathering of a few women holding regular pot luck dinners, each time giving a speaker a chance to talk about her work. Back then there was no Internet in Egypt and this was a good way to connect and learn about new modalities.” In its 20 years the women’s group has expanded to a network with over 300 members.
“The Initiative is a reflection of that on a bigger scale,” Leslie continues enthusiastically. “Now that there is the Internet that same information can be provided for a larger group of people.” The idea that once looked overwhelming revived when she found other people excited to participate: “It is better to work in a group, each can contribute something. There are skills I lack or am not passionate about. And it is an important part of the philosophy to come together as a cooperative and have all brought a piece to the project.”
Among the other ladies who joined the initiative there is first of all Cosima, a visual expressionist, and artist. Cosima creates what she calls Spirit Drawings in private consultation for individuals: “My role as a visual artist is to bring healing by means of creativity, utilizing the elements of art such as color, form, and design in a hieroglyphic or symbolic visual language on paper.” Cosima is the visual coordinator for the CHWI taking care of the look of the site and making visual contributions. “I am glad to be of service to the community, serving the people of Cairo devoted to healing and wellbeing.”
Rania gladly offers her public relation skills to the Initiative. When asked about who she is, Rania replies: “That is a journey of daily discovery. I believe in freedom and that serenity is the path to it. I believe in the power of all and working with positive people to serve one self and others with integrity.” This life philosophy motivated her to be part of the Initiative, which she believes is there to unite and serve rather than to present a new age business. “It switches the mindset from competition to collaboration.” Another reason that encourages her is the founder. “Leslie is my teacher and friend. She is a kind soul who walks the talk.”
Layla is content to contribute her administrative expertise: “I was lucky to meet people who make a different, think as I do and share with me their knowledge and heritage from ancient and local traditions, and their love and commitment to helping people. My participation will not only nourish me, but will also contribute something precious to the whole.” Layla believes that a positive use of life energy is healing and empowering the self and others as well: “I am grateful to give a helping hand to this initiative, staying connected to what inspires me and passionately moves me, and getting my good work out into the world, serving others while riding the wave in this time of awareness shifting.”
Finally I, Nada, have been exploring holistic healing since 2011, at Leslie’s Centre and others. I started meditating and followed sacred dance workshops and Reiki sessions. I am happy to contribute my journalistic experience to the Initiative. I believe health-related work is incredibly important to process and heal past experiences and to develop ourselves in this life. Besides that I am launching my project Animal Spirit. With my animal drawings and messages from the animal world, I hope to make animal symbolism more known to a wider public.
“Healing is about balance and harmony, “Leslie continues. “Come together and create a useful balanced structure and utilize resources. It is about a philosophy and not about money.” The initiative therefore is a not-for-profit organization. It’s based on the principle of ‘energy exchange’ to create balance between the people using the services and those doing the work to maintain the Initiative. “Any individual or center that contributes to health and wellbeing is welcomed to become part of the initiative,” Leslie concludes, “”whether the service you provide is related to the body, mind or energy it is all about balance.” In this vision you will find services ranging from Art to Zumba classes.
Copyright © 2015 Nada Jan