So yesterday was incredible. It was our first training day! July 30 mark the calendar. I didn’t know if anyone would show up, or how it would go, but every expectation was met like 100 fold. Jessy, Doreen, Elina, Tresa, Pauline (Tresa’s cousin) and Monica (Jessy’s friend) all came dressed in their finest clothes, eager to learn and see the skill developed. We opened with my brother, Mark’s business seminar introducing the idea of profit, sales, and cost to them. None of them had heard of profit before so it was an enlightening experience for them all. Then I had over an hour to introduce stitches. We did the plain stitch to create a seam, discussed seam quality, and briefly talked about seam finishes. The women were actively engaged, determined to learn and diligent workers when it came to practicing. We practiced on chitenge, and are all so excited to share our product ideas with y’all in the US! After all of that, they used gathers to make their first project: a rosette/fabric flower. They absolutely loved it and Tresa even tacked hers to the curtain behind them after the training session had ended. We’re all brainstorming possible markets and products to keep profit up and costs down for the most benefit financially. All of the women know each other and are becoming better friends through learning and laughing together. We have a ways to go, but we have accomplished so very much in just 2 hours on the first day. I couldn’t feel happier about how things went, or more grateful for getting to be a part of this experience. To them, this is huge. To me it is also as I get to learn from women who are a part of a culture so different than my own. We all win. Tomorrow is another class day, so it’s odd I find myself planning for the lesson the night before like I’m some sort of teacher. Funny how things seem to work out.
Immediately following the class, Brian, the sponsor of my visa letter and a prominent community leader in Ng’ombe, stopped by to discuss some business with me. He is one incredible man. Humble, contagiously joyful, very intelligent, determined, and passionate just to name a few. His smile lights up the room, and his laugh is one I will cherish forever. What’s most special about him though is his heart for his community. He feels called to care for the vulnerable people, especially women and children in Ng’ombe, but knows he doesn’t have the resources to. He told me that by my coming, he is inspired because he knows there’s really something great happening in Ng’ombe. He thanked me over and over for coming, for leaving my comfort of America, to sacrifice for these women without looking for a benefit in return. But really, I’m the one benefitting. I’m the one inspired by his passion and determination to see better lives for his peers. I’m the one at a loss for words for his sacrificial love to begin filing to help us become a Zambian NGO without even ever asking him. Clothed in Hope will be a mighty force to bring empowerment, love and hope to many people there. I know this not out of my own wishing or pride, but because Pastor Brian has the same vision as me. And if you ask me, it’s pretty amazing that one man in the middle of some slum compound 6,000 miles away from my home shares my same vision for this place. He says he asks himself, “why here?” But his heart is to thankful for sending someone to serve this place. Now I ask myself, “why me?” It is a pure blessing to be here.