7 women. Starting a new chapter of life. That's what happened a few weeks back when I was visiting our program in Zambia. We celebrated the Graduation Day for 7 women who worked to hard to ALL receive Diplomas in Sewing & Entrepreneurship. I watched on from our Staff Table as the proud Mama Amy to all of the women in the audience. Instead of listening to me ramble on about all of my feelings on that day (which I could do forever!), here's a little photo story from our most recent Graduation Day:
Our Emcee (in blue) was a student from our Kaunda Square location. Next to her in a custom & handmade outfit is our beloved In-Country Director, Elina.
And pictured behind them is our new generator!! Made possible during our last sewing machine campaign and that helped give us sound and music for the fun day.
After a little word of encouragement from the Emcee, we all enjoyed a snack: Fanta + homemade chocolate chip scones made by our Baking Instructor, Margret. Delish!
Women from all classes, previous and current, came to support the women graduating. This beautiful woman is from our newest House of Moses partnership class.
And new babies get to meet the rest of the ever-growing CiH family, like Patricia's baby girl, Blessing.
We take a break after each segment of the Graduation program to do what we love most- DANCE!
Skits were presented and then kind words were spoken over our Graduating Class, these women pictured here. Each graduate gets 4 yards of fabric to design and make her own graduation outfit that expresses her style and talent. One of our favorite parts of the whole day is seeing our graduates when they arrive!
Then the presentation of Diplomas. And lots of hugs and smiles. These women worked so hard for the past 12 months, passed multiple examinations, and defeated all opposition around them that told them they couldn't do it. Most of the graduates were recognized for the first time in their entire lives.
On the far left is Mrs. Mulenga, our Lead Instructor. Next to her is Elina, In-Country Director. And on the far right- me! Wearing a custom chitenge suit made for me by Elina.
So many hugs for the woman who taught each and every student- Mrs. Mulenga.
So much love!
I got to speak truth and encouragement over all of my "babies" as their Mama Amy. A joy to share with these women that they are loved, that they matter to the world, that they are all uniquely perfect exactly as they are.
Presenting the 7 Graduates of the Class of October 2016!!
After the ceremony concluded, everyone wanted their turn at a fun photo. I print all of these photos and give them to each person when I go to Zambia. For many of them, it's one of the only photos they have of themselves.
Graduates can bring their children or family members to share in this special day. Even more special is that these girls now have the memory of their mother achieving such an amazing accomplishment. We can't wait to see the impact this day has on these young lives years down the road. What an amazing example this brave, beautiful, hardworking mama has set for her girls!
More fun family photos to celebrate such a joyous day!
The next generation of Clothed in Hope. This little world changer.
And last but never least- the peanut butter to my jelly. The nshima to my relish. The salt to my pepper. The most amazing woman, Elina. Clothed in Hope wouldn't be what it is today without her and we love her!!
Sometimes I cringe when I hear the words "changing lives" because that seems like such a bold claim. But on Graduation Days like this one in early October, I know it's true. Clothed in Hope is changing the lives of women in Zambia. A bold statement, but a true one. From despair to hope. Mourning to gladness. So much joy, so much confidence, and so much capability. The sky is truly the limit for these incredible women who have chosen HOPE despite the challenges and oppression all around them.
And who's helping to change those lives? YOU. If you are a HOPE Club supporter, donor, customer, advocate, you made this happen, and you continue to make this happen. We celebrate with you and are so thankful for you!
If you want to be part of this goodness, there's no better time than now to join!
Amy + the CiH team