The Spirit of Giving with Ola Obasi and Amy Branum

The Spirit of Giving with Ola Obasi and Amy Branum

Announcing Banyan's 2020 Community Grant Fund Recipients

Since our Community Grant Fund was established in 2019, it has served as a way for us to support passionate Ayurvedic changemakers who are sharing Ayurveda and herbs with the members of their community who need it the most. 

This year, we were especially interested in supporting projects that serve marginalized communities, namely Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). We recognize that many people of color do not have financial or physical access to Ayurveda and herbalism due to deeply rooted systemic oppression.

And so, it is with full hearts and great joy that we announce our 2020 Community Grant Fund recipients—Olatokunboh Obasi and Amy Branum. 

Both Ola and Amy are the embodiment of community care, devoted to making wellness accessible and inclusive, especially for those who may not otherwise have access to the wisdom and benefits of Ayurveda and herbal medicine.

Through their carefully curated offerings and healing modalities, they continuously show up for their communities to meet their most current and pressing needs. Both recipients have supported their people through natural disasters, systemic racism, and a myriad of other challenges.  

This spirit of giving is not learned, it is intuitive, and it creates lasting impact. 

While 2020 was a big year that disrupted the norm for so many of us, these two resilient women have been working to heal their communities and address inequities for years. They are both healers, educators, and wellsprings of herbal wisdom, having learned directly from the plants and elements themselves.

In the spirit of right relation and reciprocity, we are humbled to gift both financial and in-kind product donations to support the work of these devoted community leaders. Below is a summary of their projects that gives a glimpse of the phenomenal work they do.

Grant recipient Ola Obasi

Olatokunboh Obasi and the Omaroti Well of Indigenous Wisdom

An African herbalist, healer, doula, and extraordinary human, Ola has been working with plants and their medicinal properties since the age of nine. She is influenced both by her paternal Nigerian heritage as well as her mother's village in Kenya, where she spent many years studying herbalism and healing with her uncle.

Ola now lives on the island of Puerto Rico where she runs the Omaroti Well of Indigenous Wisdom in Mayaguez and offers her vast skills, remedies, and wisdom to the people there. She focuses her services on empowering the Afro-Indigenous communities of the colonized island by working to make clinical herbalism, education, and herbal medicines accessible to all. 

Ayurveda and Herbs for Community Free Clinic Puerto Rico 

One of Ola's main projects is managing a weekly free clinic on the island of Puerto Rico, through which she provides much-needed support to her community. Here, she offers herbal medicines, Ayurvedic lifestyle guidance, and nutritional advice to uplift and empower those in need. 

 Ola's project involves seeds, soil, and soul. 

With her grant funds, Ola intends to purchase Ayurvedic seeds and grow an abundant Ayurvedic garden to use for her preparations. She will be planting a few Ayurvedic herbs including bacopa, kalmegh, neem, ashoka, ashwaganda, tulsi, and brahmi. 

In addition, Ola is dedicated to teaching people how to grow herbs and make their own medicine. Along with her own wisdom and herbal offerings, she intends to share seeds with the community so that they can grow their own gardens in the lush tropical climate of Puerto Rico. 

Through this grant, Ola can continue to make an impact on the physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional health of her community.

When we asked Ola about how she came to Ayurveda, she remarked, 

“Ayurveda is a cosmic language that transcends time and geography. After pharmacy didn't click, Western herbalism also wasn't solid for me. But when I got to Ayurveda, it made sense. It was like a translation and I could understand how my people relate to the herbs and practices in similar ways. The elements are well known in this household—my children have learned the elements from very young.”

Grant recipient Amy Branum

Amy Branum and The Northern California School of Botanical Studies

Amy is another shining example of someone who is devoted to making herbal and Ayurvedic healing more accessible to the people of her community. Both a NAMA-certified Ayurvedic practitioner and a registered herbalist with the American Herbalist Guild, she runs a clinical practice, Lasya Wellness & Vitality, in Grass Valley, California.

Amy is also the creator of The Northern California School of Botanical Studies, where her mission is to educate students on using herbs while also inspiring positive change in their communities and in the world.

Healing for the Brown and Black People of Northern California 

Only seven percent of the population in Amy's community are people of color, and with the racial unrest our country has been experiencing, Amy wants to help heal the Brown and Black people that have suffered the most. Many in her community come to her for help with their nervous systems and other stress related issues as a result of racial violence.

Amy is dedicated to creating safe spaces for Brown and Black people in her area to find support in their healing and to feel that they belong.

Amy will use her grant to offer the people of color in her community free consultations, free Ayurvedic body work, and free herbal remedies. In addition, she will be offering two free workshops focused on resilience-healing, stress management, and herbal remedy making for supporting the nervous system. In Amy's words,

“Offering healing for Brown and Black people, who are the vast minority in my community and are under stress from racial tensions, will provide a safe space for them to open up to heal. These workshops will strengthen the community between us all. Leaving with remedies in hand, the participants will be able to work on their own nervous system health at home and find comfort in knowing that we are all doing this together.”

Amy also offers healing support to people that have suffered loss and experience health issues from the ongoing wildfires that have devastated much of northern California.

Coming Together to Make a Difference

We are inspired and uplifted to see the incredible work that Ola and Amy, along with so many others, are doing to make Ayurveda more accessible to the marginalized and disadvantaged people in their communities. It is an honor to play a role in helping their dreams and visions manifest.

Supporting the work of these impressive women also helps us to actualize our mission as a company—to help people achieve and maintain optimal health and well-being. So please join us in congratulating Amy and Ola for their beautiful work and their revolutionary leadership!