When God opens a door He can throw it open wider than anyone could imagine. I know there are scriptures blessing those that champion the cause of the poor and needy. I know that money is no object to Him who owns the cattle on a thousand hills and knows the end from the beginning. I know that the last shall be first. I know that widows and children are close to the heart of my Lord. What I didn’t know is that I would get to be a part of transforming a village in Africa!
When I first came to this village the children were running around with distended bellies somewhat covered with rags; bored, uneducated, sick, hungry and hopeless. In just 2 ½ years they have lost their bellies to healthy bodies due to no longer being hungry, learned to read (and in English!), have purpose and are full of hope for their future. No longer in rags they shine like nothing you have ever seen if you have not witnessed this kind of transformation. I am humbled and in awe of the God we serve! With precious little funding and a handful of people there is now; a school building with classrooms for 250 children, teaching supplies and learning materials to equip 6 teachers, a kitchen specially designed to serve them, a library and latrines, rainwater collection tanks, storehouses, a new garden and even a pregnant cow to enhance their nutrition.
I know you see the title of this is “Jewelry” and may be wondering what this has to do with jewelry. Well let me tell you about the mothers, grandmothers and caretakers of the students in this school. Now, remember, this school is for the children that had no way to go to the normal schools in the area due to their parent’s extreme poverty. These are the absolute poorest of the poor in this impoverished area. Women seem to be the primary caretakers of the families the world over. If there are good men around they help as they can but I have been really impressed with the women in this village. The more I get to know them the more impressed I am. They have a determination I admire. And along with that determination they have spirit. From that spirit evolves creativity and dedication.
Having nothing means banding together to share costs, ideas, tools and drive. Groups of women make lovely jewelry from scraps. Paper that we throw away, in their hands, becomes colorful necklaces or earrings or bracelets. I never would have thought paper could be so interesting and beautiful when cut and rolled into beads. Once varnished they shine enough to make women half way across the world excited to wear this work of art. From mud huts to fancy dress shops these beads have been on a journey. This is a journey of desperation as these women have no other means of supporting themselves. A journey accomplishing empowerments as the profits go back into the village to bring knowledge from illiteracy, vision and dreams from hopelessness.
Knowing this story first hand it has been my delight to help bring their beads to the USA and present them to friends and interested businesses. They are easy to sell as they not only are desirable on their own but they make the wearer proud they have helped another in need. They have purchased jewelry that has a meaning. There is an actual woman to woman connection. I praise God as He draws lovers of beauty together making a difference in the lives of both!