And then there is this.
A photo I could look at forever.
A photo taken a few days ago, with Argentine smiling. After losing her daughter last year I wondered if we would ever see this beautiful smile again.
But here is Argentine smiling again.
And cuddling a child in her arms.
And joy, simply... inexplicably, seems possible again. Surely this is the miracle of life..that however muddy and complicated and full of heartbreak the way gets, joy still makes appearances. Hope still exists.
Here is the news: Argentine and Mapendo have left Congo and fled to a refugee camp again. But wait...before you heave a sigh and your heart breaks for them again...know this. Despite the fact that they are sleeping in a refugee camp on the cold hard grown, under a tarp, they are counting their blessings. Because for the first time in what seems like a year, they are able to sleep in peace again. I received a message just today telling me "we are thanking God so much, so much, because we are not afraid here."
Argentine has fled with her boyfriend and his young daughter (in Argentine's arms above), along with Argentine's younger sister (above left).
Mapendo fled with her husband, her 2 sons, and the 2 nieces she cares for Neema and Ziada (you will remember them from their journey to the refugee camp in Burundi a few years ago).
Both Argentine and Mapendo were living in fear in Goma, with thieves often trying to break into Mapendo's home and Argentine facing personal threats on her life and safety. The situation, ever since Argentine's daughter died, has escalated.
But to flee and return to a refugee camp is no small thing. We tried again and again to imagine a way that life could be better in Goma. Was there a safer neighborhood or a safer way for them to work? But for these women, with all that they have been through and all they are facing, they concluded that there was no other way forward. So they fled. Miraculously they made it, finding a way across the border and to a refugee camp, 4 adults (3 of them on crutches) and 6 children. Just making it there safely is a cause for celebration.
They are in a transit camp and have been assigned to a tarp covered structure. They made their beds by stretching out a thin mat on the cold hard ground and covering it with cloth. And there on that ground, they smiled. Because there was no sound of thieves at the door and there was no one threatening to hurt them. They slept in peace. And they woke up to a new day, and a new path on their journey. Thank you for joining this journey with us.
Please keep supporting these amazing and courageous women by buying their beautiful, handcrafted work.
There will be more news coming soon about what this new journey may hold for them but in the meantime thank you for sharing this journey with us. We truly could not do it without all our friends. And also, Riziki and Solange are both doing well in Congo and are still sewing so your purchases matter to all 4 women and the 12 children (or more) they care for!