"I would like to know about your wonderful women. What are each of their hopes for their futures? What will it take for those to be fulfilled, and how can we help (apart from buying and spreading the word)?"
When I first started working with the SHONA ladies I would often ask "what are your dreams for the future". They would often respond by staring at me blankly.
The other day when I asked the same question, I was amazed at the complexity of answers I stumbled upon. I have to say that in the past year they have sure developed a lot of answers to that question!!
Argentine explained it this way...
"Before I couldn't even imagine what a better life
would look like. Other people might dream of buying land or doing
something in the future, but I was crippled and I didn't have that
confidence. I just hoped someday, something would change and life
would somehow be better. But now I dream."
All of the SHONA craftspeople have many goals. Here are the goals that they are currently working towards...
*Mapendo's goal right now is to rebuild her mother's home so that she can leave the refugee camp. Mapendo is the youngest child in her family, and she is rebuilding her mother's house on her own.
*Argentine's primary goal right now is to be able to pay her younger siblings school fees so that they can return to school (they are currently not in school for financial reason)
*Elda's goal is to provide a secure home for herself and her elderly mother. They currently live in a very small shack and have been forced to move multiple times in the past, because of finances.
*Roy's goal is to pay his children's school fees consistently so that they are able to attend school on a consistent basis next year and to continue invest in his wife's small business ( a business they recently through his SHONA income and a generous donation).
*Riziki and Solange are two young handicapped women who are about to begin internships with SHONA. They have just finished treatment at the handicapped center and have learned to sew there. Their current goal is to find work in Goma so that they can remain in the city. They are both from rural areas, where it is currently not safe for them to return.
For longer term goals all of the craftspeople dream of...
Being able to help their families
Being able to provide for themselves and save money
buying their own piece of land on which to build a home
Teaching other handicapped people how to sew
The women all dream of earning high school diplomas. All of them either never went to school, or did so only briefly.
Related to the above goal, all of them dream of learning French, without which they cannot earn a diploma in Congo. They would also like to learn English and computers.
Argentine and Mapendo also dream of traveling. They have traveled a bit regionally with a handicapped sports team and met members of European handicapped sports teams. They were amazed to discover that even in Europe and America handicapped people exist, but even more amazed by the fact that the handicapped people they met from other places had gone to school, had families, had jobs, played sports and were respected as equals in their cultures.
It may take different forms, but in the end they all dream of creating a better world for themselves and for others. They dream of being able to attain independence and security in their own lives, and they dream of being able to help others. I often think of helping others as a responsibility, and I believe it is, but it is also a great privilege. If only you could see the true joy on the SHONA craftspeople's faces as they begin to find themselves in a position where they can help others, you would know what I mean. So in the end those are their goals.
What can you do?
You anticipated my response exactly...
- The best way to help the SHONA craftspeople achieve all of these goals is to BUY SHONA PRODUCTS AND SPREAD THE WORD! These are talented, hard-working people who want to provide for themselves and their families. Every time you buy something from SHONA you make this dream a reality.
- Even better help us reach a whole new market...have a SHONA party! We provide you with SHONA products, brochures and a mix CD of African music. You invite your friends. Just send us a check for the products you sell and send back the ones you don't. You can earn 2 free products of your choice and get a great mix of African music. Check it out here.
- Or just request some free brochures to share with friends, church groups, or anywhere else.
- You you can donate to our education fund or our material fund.
- Or you can contact me directly (hurleydawn at gmail dot com) if you would like to sponsor Riziki or Solange as our new craftswomen and give them the chance to make their dreams a reality.
- Or if you would like to support the handicapped sports team that Mapendo and Argentine are involved with, I will be including them in a blog entry in a couple of weeks. This weekend we attended a championship game and it was truly inspiring to watch.
So jump in, we'd love your help in any way you can think of! Please feel free to email or comment with any ideas!!