Inspired by her own feeling of burnout, a D.C. woman created a retreat center in the Woodridge neighborhood of Northeast designed to help weary people find rest.
The retreat center Huru is named after the Swahili word for “free,” founder and CEO Imani Samuels said.
“For centuries, men and women — especially women of color — have sacrificed balance, neglected their souls, because of so much that we've been facing,” she said.
“We've been doing so much, including leading our families, cultivating our babies, frolicking in the world, championing our communities. And it is time that we rest,” Samuels added.
Huru offers weekend-long retreats for one guest at a time, with meals and all parts of the experience designed just for the visitor. Samuels works with the nonprofit Selah, which aims to facilitate healing and contemplation. The retreats occur in Selah’s tranquil Still House building on Randolph Street NE.
Samuels, 37, said she was inspired in part by The Nap Ministry, an art and social justice project with the message “Rest is resistance.”
A personal breaking point also prompted the creation of the project a year ago.
“My daughter came to me and she said, ‘Mommy, you are always tired.’ And it was at that point where I had to change my behavior cold turkey. So from that day on, I stopped working the 80-hour weeks,” she said.
Samuels, who also works as a marketing director, began sticking to a 40-hour weekly schedule and realized she felt a calling.
“I was not willing to go back into what I felt like was not freedom. And so I stuck with that. And in that time of stillness, I heard, ‘You have to go minister rest.’ You have to go offer this to people,” she said.
She said she hopes the space will be accessible to all kinds of people in need of deep rest.