No matter how hard you work or how good your product is if you don’t have a market where there is a chance to gain customers then all is for naught. That was the story in Masese for the women of the HELP School children. It would be like me or you learning a trade that either had so many doing it there was no room for us to break into the market or there was no market in the area we lived.
Even worse it was our only hope of feeding our families or sending them to school or getting medical care for them when they needed it. No hope is really a difficult thing. You wonder if there is something wrong with you. Did God forget you, or are you just so unworthy that you don’t deserve to even have hope?
Each time we visited Masese we were given gifts of lovely jewelry. Wonderfully varied and colorful. I wore it with pride! Then we decided to try bringing some back to see if others liked it as well as we did. We were delighted to see that we hadn’t brought enough! People loved them! Just like we did. We took the proceeds from those sales and decided to purchase more on our last trip. We told the ladies to be prepared as we would be buying.
Given hope for the first time, these industrious artisans went to work! They invited us to see their goods one afternoon. Placing a colorful piece of fabric on the ground, they sat down on the ground themselves and proudly spread out their creations. It was a beautiful sight! But we were in trouble! We only had enough money to purchase a few items from each lady.They had worked so hard and created so many beautiful pieces it was heartbreaking to leave so much work in their hands. Instead of this being a happy time it became sad. We had dashed their hopes and rejected their hard work, almost a slap in the face. What we had meant for good had not turned out so well.
Don’t ever let anyone tell you that poverty means unintelligent people. When women need to survive they put their brains in gear. The next day the leader of the group came to us and told us we were like Moses to them and we couldn’t bring them this far and leave them. They wanted us to take all their jewelry. We declined as we didn’t have nearly enough money to purchase all their work. We didn’t understand. Irene said, “What are we supposed to do with this? We have no market! Take it all and send us money when you sell it” Wow, that was trust and risk and most of all desperation.
We hauled suitcases full back to the USA and went to work for them. With determination to not disappoint them we are taking advantage of every opportunity to present their work. All money goes back to them, their children, and their community. They are raising the standard of their area. They are on the forefront of providing education for their children, bringing opportunity to others, and raising themselves out of the poverty that has so mercilessly entrapped them. With just a couple of tools, a love for beauty, recycled paper and the community of each other an industry has been born for these families. Self pride instead of unworthiness, thankfulness instead of despair, hope!
No we must keep our end of the bargain and bring their jewelry to the market. We can not leave them in the wilderness. Being like Moses we must rely on God’s leading and provision to get them to the promised land. The land of milk and honey where we all enjoy the fruits of our labor. Where children don’t die from lack of medicine or poor nutrition. Where education and opportunity is the norm rather than the exception. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done!