Past Trips

Reviews

What a wonderfully curated experience Wilize created. A culturally expansive women's adventure for the ages. #BTOR was a space to learn about the beautiful intricacies of West Africa and all she has provided for the world. The space created to have conversations of differences, similarities, trials and joy all while learning how we connect with each other, the world around us, all the while connecting back with my true self. It was a blessing and honor to embark on this experience that Ill never forget.
My first voyage back to Afrika was a success with Wilize and her staff. We stayed in a spacious and beautiful five bedroom home that has a front yard that feels like paradise. No exaggeration. I valued the deep table talks I had with the ladies over some amazing Afrikan cuisine from the wonderful cook Josette. Wilize was accommodating with our requests for extra shopping or other activities and genuinely care about our concerns. This retreat definitely filled me up with a variety of experiences: partying, city, country, village, spiritual, etc. Considering this was somewhat a solo travel I never felt unsafe. Laurence she was a wonderful person to meet and gave me good laughs and made me feel warm inside. Her workshop sparked in me a re-connection with essential oils and her massage creates an interesting fire of relaxation. Random but Wilize got the connects. I've always wanted to go back to Afrika and felt so good I didn't have to go it alone. Instead I was surrounded with like-minded beautiful black sisters all trying to dig deeper spiritually and reconnect with our ancestry. The beautiful thing is Benin, has set-up memorials, the Vodun festival, and a yearly walk in an effort to call Afrikans of the Diaspora back home and atone for our unfortunate and unforgettable departure from home. I invite you, Afrika invites you, and Awura Experience is waiting for you to see for yourself. ;)
Thank you Wilize for creating a safe space for women to come together, bond and learn from each other whilst exploring the beautiful country of Benin. This is the best retreat that I have been on. Every aspect of it was well thought out; from the delicious food made by our wonderful chef Josette, the beautiful villa that we called home for 10 days, to all of the workshops and sites that we visited. I am feeling so blessed to have been a part of this experience. Not only did I leave with a strong sense of sisterhood but I also learned a lot in terms of history, spirituality and about personal and community growth. What made this retreat so special is the organic nature in which conversations flowed, stories were shared, experiences occurred - I am grateful for the memories created. If you are curious to learn about spirituality, the various forms of healing, sharing and listening to stories in a safe space, I highly recommend this retreat!
There is so much to say about how incredible this trip was. Wilizé was such a caring and attentive host throughout the trip, making sure that each of us had everything that we needed. At the same time as this, she was never detached from the experience and seemed as much a part of the visiting group as anyone else. Her level of research and familiarity with locals and friends from Benin was what enabled us to seamlessly experience the country in a way that did not feel shallow or heavily touristic. Instead, it felt that we were being shown around by family and friends, which was invaluable. Highlights of the trip were the visit to Bab's Dock for an aromatherapy workshop with Laurence Sessou, the Vodoun festival, the Connecting to Self through Ancestry workshop by Anike Bello, and the visit to the Python Temple, among many other things such as the beauty of the residence that we stayed at. The schedule was the right balance of activities and downtime to make sure that we could process all of the information that we were taking in. I also really enjoyed the consistency of everything - having the minibus taking us from place to place, with our wonderful and patient driver, Donathon, and the amazing food by our chef, Josette, who was such a warm and motherly presence in the house. I loved the fact that Josette also made traditional food for us which enabled us to deeper connect with the culture. All of this made us feel incredibly safe and welcome at all times. I am so glad that I took the chance to go on this trip. I remember doubting whether or not I could make the investment but taking a leap of faith and it has paid me back many times over in terms of what I was able to experience, how much more my sense of connectedness to West Africa has grown, and the confidence with which I move through life. I also look forward to meeting many of the girls again, and feel fortunate to have been part of such a well bonded group. There's probably more I'm forgetting to say, but it truly was an enriching trip which I would recommend for anyone, particularly of African descent, who is open-minded, cares for and is interested in the indigenous traditions, culture and history of West Africa. If that's you, take this trip. Thank you Wilizè!!
AE
This trip was definitely my highlight of the year. And I have 11 months to go as this was a January trip. I travel extensively and avidly and this experience was incomparable. The fullness of the planned excursions that were sometimes off the beaten path with true locals, experiencing the comradeship of like-minded women of Color was such a cherry on top of an already satisfying and delicious dessert. I actually do not care for Group travel but this has opened my mind and heart greatly. I truly cannot wait for more African trips to be planned and brought forth. I would definitely support annually as the locations grow. If you’re hesitant or unsure about joining... DO IT, you will be hooked and other groups will seem so much lessor than that you can’t ever go back to mediocrity!
My experience in Benin was mind blowing. I felt welcome and safe during my stay there. Wilizé made sure everything was taken care of for my time there. The BTOR 2019 healing retreat awakened feelings deep inside of me that I had long forgotten but, needed to remember. I can’t say enough about the long heart felt conversations that Wilizé and the other women shared. The information I learned about Benin, my ancestors and the slave trade was immense. The healing and love I shared with all of the participants will stay with me forever. Thank You Wilizé. ??? Jamice Simpson
BACK TO OUR ROOTS healing retreat was an incredible experience rich in emotion. The workshops and socio-cultural and historical tours curated by Wilizé were interactive, enlightening as well as delicious (shout out to Josette the amazing cook and to the culinary experience we had in a nutrition center). The locations chosen for this retreat were beautiful and peaceful and allowed us to really unwind and connect with ourselves. The healing circles which took place very organically were great time to bond and know each participants of the retreat a little bit more! I would definitely recommend this retreat to African women of the diaspora craving to learn more about themselves and another side of African culture which is seldom explored.

References

BT
My trip with Awura experiences was absolutely life changing. On the BTOR Retreat we participated in a series of workshops and adventures. Starting with learning about history from and about our ancestors in West Africa, engaging in sacred traditions to learning about black health and nutrition. Want to share and highlight the nutrition experience that has been very healing for me in particular. We spent some time with a popular herbalist - healer at her family's healing/ nutrition center in Benin . First off, this was a life long wish that came true. Left with more knowledge and insight on how I would like to continue living my life in the most reasonable homeopathic way possible in a westernized world/culture that relies entirely too much on manufactured food and pills. Prior to this trip, had been having issues with my digestion, IBS, losing weight and diabetes. After this one of many powerful and positive experiences on this amazing trip, was inspired to adjust my diet to one that consisted of less gluten and incorporated various mixtures of herbs that had healing properties for my health issues. Since January, I've lost over 20 pounds , lowered my A1C and have had no ibs or digestive issues. Overall , something minor, like having the opportunity of being able to sit down and have a clear and concise conversation with someone who looks like you, knows common issues that affect people like you and understands your body- DNA and it's functions ; as well as knows your history and details of your lineage definitively is such a undefined experience in its self. In addition to healing physical health issues, this experience has had profound healing affects on my mental health. One take away, was finding true confidence in my blackness, ancestors journey and really understanding my worth and purpose from a new perspective and narrative. Since gaining new clarity, been making more progress within my career endeavors here in the US . Things are seeming to align differently for me. Spending time in Africa with Awura experiences has further helped me be more assertive, clear and focused on getting my needs met . Would recommend Awura to any black woman - WOC searching for new culture filled experiences and looking to achieve a breakthrough in their lives.
By Bri Tney on 23 Apr, 19
SS
The BTOR retreat has been a magical, transformative, and reflective positive moment in my healing journey. I always felt an ancestral call to return home [Africa] but never imagined that my first trip would be to Benin. After spending 10 days healing, learning, connecting, and evolving I know exactly why my first trip back home had to be Benin. Carefully curated, each we arose in an opulent house and gathered for group meditation. This was a necessary start to our day. It helped me to center and be present. It also united me feel united to the sisters in our group. We ate traditional breakfast and dinners prepared by a local chef. The food was everything! Oozing with flavor and filled with the love and joy by the delightful sister who prepared them. The conversations that we shared over a fulfilling meal were food for the soul. Each day we explored the culture and traditions of Benin, working to unlearn, learn, and relearn the stigmas of Voodun. The most impactful lesson being that the Voodoo Festival, in many ways, is a call to return home to the diaspora from the people of Benin. Who would have thought that this whole time Benin had been cultivated a space specifically for us. You feel grievance from the complex history of the slave trade in the museums and monuments created in honor of our ancestors. Walking the path of the slave road step by step with a local guide who breaks down the significance and the story behind each stride. I felt overwhelmed with emotions. The days prior had been filled with a serendipitous trip to a village to learn about herbal medicine. I watched the gratitude on each of our faces as we watched the herbalist fly from one plant to the next. Explaining the benefits of every succulent he could while joy radiated from his presence. We had a workshop held by Laurance, who skillfully took us through balancing our chakras through the use of essential oils. An impromptu workshop on Connecting Through Self Through Ancestry by author and one of the sisters participating in the retreat, Anike. We’d experienced the get down as we turnt up in Benin’s nightlife. We paraded in the streets in honor of our ancestors during the Voodoo Fest. There were so many memories being created and bonds being formed between the women on this trip. Too many to mention, but much to be explored for yourself. I urge anyone interested in discovering more about their roots to start your year off right, through this magical retreat. Wilize was the perfect guide. Her love and passion for the diaspora are clear and pure. I felt personally supported and cared for during my retreat which was really a time of healing. I have a tremendous amount of gratitude for Wilize and the women I shared this time with.
By Shaina Simmons on 26 Jan, 20