I have been here 20 months. Two YEARS in October. It seems like forever, it seems like yesterday. Here is this weeks' update:
Fran came and went and three weeks of my life flew by. I have had numerous encounters I have wanted to share with you and written them down in my head. But they are all gone now and I am not sure where to start.
I could restart by telling a little about how we got to this place, a sewing school. I’ve told it here in pieces. One of many things I have learned here is that creativity is…well, important. It is a powerful way to express emotion, it’s universal, it’s timeless, it’s innate. I am living in a very survival oriented culture. A country that has known slavery and war. Crayons and finger-paints aren’t on their Kindergarten supply lists. Monet and Rembrandt aren’t in glossy books on their coffee tables. There aren’t any coffee tables. And there isn’t any coffee. It’s different. Of course there is beautiful self-expression here all over the place and incredibly artistic ingenuity. But poverty and survival have overtaken. All my students are little creative creations dying to get out.
I have simply seen the sewing school as a place for them to come and create, to make something out of nothing. A place for them to take an everyday item, a capalana. They were wrapped in them the second they were born and carried in one until they could walk. Women wear them every single day. The bundle them in neat donuts and plop them on their heads to carry heavy things. They are one of the most common items that exist. But to take a common item such as this and make something more, something creative, something beautiful, something that can make a profit, is new to them. I wish you could see their faces as they see their little creations take shape. Everything here is the same. There are no fashions or creations or designs that are outside the box. But we are slowly showing them new things and giving them the skills to make them and they are in awe. Maybe I am crazy but I believe that this is helping them in finding out who they are. I believe that watching them create something that didn’t exist before that is serving to sustain them and empower them and is beautiful and unique and different, is….powerful.
Someone once told me that I would “take dead/abandoned research and bring it to life and it would feed the hungry”. I think this may be a tiny part of it and I honestly had forgotten that until I sat down to write this. My goal is to feed the hungry; body and spirit. I want to bring life to the living dead. I want to see these women and children equipped with what they need inside and out. And somehow sitting at a sewing machine helps to show them, they are powerful, unique, creative, and able.
So, I am doing that. And my weeks have been filled with that. We just launched our online store and officially hired 3 beautiful women and of course, Amilcar. All this is being funded by you. We’ve invested mostly in fabric and one sewing machine. Pastor Lee Smith of The Way Church in Hartwell sent us a fantastic serger and now we are in business! I, of course, am anxious to start making money and at getting back our investment so that we can invest more! I have to go to SA in July to renew my visa and hope to get another machine. (A beautiful lady I met back in November had offered to buy us one, lost my information and just two weeks ago, found me again and gave us the money!) We are still in very beginner stages, with all things and are taking it slow.
Meanwhile, I am doing computer courses in the evening and starting next week, TEN of our boys will start an internship at Kauri (a local restaurant and hotel). I am elated that they have this opportunity but also wondering just what in the world they are going to do that could possibly go wrong or get them fired. I am a proud mom but also worried that I have not prepared them enough, that they are going to skip work, steal the silverware or get caught smoking behind the kitchen.
Those are our big stories over the past few weeks and the reason for my absence. I’m exhausted. I keep thinking that I have never been so tired and that I simply cannot keep functioning at this level of work, and then another week or month goes by and I am still alive and still working and still thinking that I must rest. I get sleep at night it is just the waking hours that are so exhausting. Maybe it is all those years as a state employee that didn’t equip me for this job so full of hard work and long hours, but either way I am so tired. Last time I went to Cape Town, I admitted myself into the little house in Simon’s Town and simply tried to recover. I have until July 24th and then I can do it again. Until then, pray for strength and energy to do each day and for Henrique to show up to work on time and in uniform.