In 2017, CapCon underwrote the creation of an organization in Kigali, Rwanda, called the Ituze Mindfulness and Yoga Center. The mission of this for-profit organization was a seemingly modest goal of providing meditation and yoga instruction to the general population of Kigali. But Ituze was conceived with a higher goal in mind. It was to be the vanguard of a series of financially sustainable businesses that would serve to improve the general mental health of populations exposed to an extraordinary amount of trauma. Backed by increasing research & data indicating the effectiveness of meditation in improving mental health & wellness, Ituze embarked on providing services that would alleviate trauma-related syndromes such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
Ituze currently offers a variety of classes and workshops in yoga, mindfulness, meditation, and Qigong Tai Chi. One particularly innovative offering is a Breath-Body-Mind practice. Breath-Body-Mind is a therapeutic practice combining gentle movements with voluntarily regulated breathing practices, and has been scientifically shown to help alleviate a wide range of physical and psychological challenges including anxiety, depression, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and chronic pain. Since opening, Ituze has increased its number of teachers and staff to accommodate an ever-growing client base. They now offer 18 classes per week and serve about a hundred people at the center.
The Center is designed as a quiet, peaceful space to provides a healing environment for guests. The grounds include an inviting garden and several indoor spaces for guests to rest and relax, enjoy a tea or coffee, and socialize with other guests. The Ituze Center has also partnered with Seeing Hands Rwanda to provide massage therapy several days a week.
In September 2018, Ituze started a series of outreach classes in order to share their services with a wider range of Rwandans. Ituze instructors have taught at the following institutions:
- Talking Through Art—a center for disabled women, weekly classes in yoga and Breath-Body-Mind.
- Akilah Institute—two yoga workshops during the 2018-2019 academic year.
- Africa Leadership University—classes in yoga and mindfulness during their Wellness Week, spring 2019.
- The Kigali Genocide Memorial—classes in Breath-Body-Mind for employees in the week prior to the commemoration in April 2019
- Les Enfants de Dieu—center for the rehabilitation of street kids, weekly classes in yoga and mindfulness.
- Comfort Primary School—a “catch-up school” for vulnerable youths, weekly classes in yoga and mindfulness.
- AVEGA, Impinganzima homes for genocide survivors—weekly classes in Breath-Body-Mind in Huye, Nyanza, Nyamata, and monthly two-day workshops in Rusizi.
By September 2019, the outreach program was serving an average of about 320 people per week in our outreach programs.
“We’re pretty thrilled with the progress of Ituze Mindfulness & Yoga Center”, said Jon Freeman, Founder and Owner of CapCon corporate parent, Stonecrest Financial. Freeman, who spends a considerable amount of time and investment capital on the continent of Africa, is spearheading a broad set of investments and develop initiatives in several African countries with a broad mandate of creating positive returns from companies with market-based solutions to poverty. “Ituze is not the biggest thing we are doing”, says Freeman, “but in a way it might be the most important, because if we can propagate services that improve mental health and well being, we are not only helping people, but creating a richer environment for entrepreneurship to thrive.”
With this in mind, CapCon will continue its support of Ituze and expect more and better outcomes in the years to come..