Thursday, December 5, 2013

Home for the Holidays

Recently my husband, my daughter and I moved.  To a new city, a new apartment.  And there is something about this new apartment, or maybe just the cold outside the door, that makes me want to decorate for the holidays.  I want lights in the window.  And a wreath on the door.

So far none of those things have happened.

I have been so busy trying to keep up with SHONA that my head is spinning and I simply collapse into bed at the end of the night.  The ladies have been working for months now, to keep our shelves full this holiday season.  And I have been working to keep your orders going out the door, and new stuff coming in.

I have to admit that sometimes, especially around the holidays, I am tempted to imagine that my home wasn't strewn with packing boxes and colorful cloth.  Instead maybe I could just have that tasteful wreath on the door.  And maybe I could have those silent nights, those ones where all is calm...
And then I think of the SHONA Congo ladies.  Or I hear one of their voices.

And I pack another order. Because this is the busy season, and it matters to the ladies.

A few days ago, Argentine and Mapendo returned home.  Almost exactly a year ago, they fled their homes and their country.  And now they return.

Argentine returned carrying her daughter Rachel in her arms.  Rachel was born in Burundi.  She was born a refugee and now she returns to a home she has never seen.

Mapendo returned with her son, Jonathan.  But she also returned with a new baby waiting to be born.  She is 6 months pregnant.  Hopefully that baby will never know life in a refugee camp.  The baby is the reason Mapendo and Argentine came back to Congo.  The health care at the camp where she was living was very poor, and she wanted to go back to Congo where she knew she could find a doctor...and fruits and vegetables to eat.  Those are scarce in the camps.  So when the peace deal was signed a month ago, and the rebels started disarming, Mapendo began to count the days.  Praying that the peace would last.

Who knows if the peace will last?  Mapendo and Argentine return to a country that is still far from stable.  And they return to look for new homes.  The places where they had been living were long ago occupied by someone else.  But their loved ones are still there, eager to have them back. 

And their workshop?  The one they built with their own money, on their own is still standing.  With table and chairs inside.

I think of that workshop, how silent and empty it has stood all these months.  And then I picture it in a few months, full of packing boxes and colorful cloths.  And the whir of sewing machines and the songs of praise.

And I turn back to the project at hand.  Unpacking a new box of stock that has just arrived and then packing an order for a customer.  Sending joy and hope in both directions.   Happy holidays to you all!


Thank you all for keeping us busy this holiday season.  Your purchases mean so much.
I promise I would still love to pack your order! 
 We just got in our last shipment before the holidays!
 Now is the time to order!!

**And for those of you wondering about the other 2 SHONA Congo ladies, Riziki and Solange are still in the refugee camps in Burundi.  Solange is recovering well from her operation, and Riziki is expecting a baby this month.  They are both still sewing.  They will return to Congo in a few months if all goes well.