PORTLAND--The Nairobi, Kenya terrorist attack hit close to home for one Portland woman. Her family just got back from a non-profit volunteer trip to the capital city.
The militants launched their siege of the facility, Westgate Shopping Mall, on Saturday afternoon. Al Shabaab, a Somali terrorist organization linked to al Qaeda, said that it was behind the assault and that it was retribution for a 2011 push by Kenya into Somalia.
"The physical practice is a very small part of yoga. Yoga is about peace. I'm very passionate about yoga and I believe it changes people's lives," said Annie Petrillo who has been practicing vinyasa yoga for 20 years.
Petrillo believes in the power of yoga so much, she and her two teenagers packed their bags this summer and spent two weeks volunteering in Kenya. The raised $10,000 for a non-profit called Africa Yoga Project started by people in Portland.
Africa Yoga Project provides training and a salary to local Kenyans who in turn offer free yoga classes in the slums. The training center sits in the heart of Nairobi and just blocks from this weekend's deadly mall shooting. "It was overwhelming, it was really really scary," said Petrillo.
Her family had walked those very halls, shopped in those stores. For a tense few hours she worried she might know someone hurt, or worse, killed.
"Our experience of the people in Kenya, they were so happy and loving and welcoming and it breaks my heart that someone would do that to these people."
This terrorist act hasn't shaken her resolve, now more than ever she believes in the importance of the project.
"It changes people's lives. Peace spreads and there's still a lot of work to do."