Tis the Season

Last Thursday I was able to call and talk to all of our CiH women, our Zambian sewing instructor that’s been filling in while I’m back in the States, and even 3 little ones, George and Jona (5), and Joshua (3), sons of Elina and Tresa. The squeals of “we miss you” in the boys’ voices made my heart about burst open, but to hear 11 of my best friends, the beautiful women of CiH, exclaim the same really shook me up for that entire day, but in a great way.

Confession: it’s easy in America to do American things with an American timeframe and American tendencies without stopping for a second to think that the world is so much bigger. And I’m guilty of it.

For 20 minutes, I got to hear what they’ve been up to, hearing the joy in their voices with every single update. It was fascinating to hear about daily life there right now, contrasted with the (mild in NC) winter in the US. It’s the rainy season in Zambia, hot and muggy with flooded roads, but a cool relief when the rains are falling. School terms are continuing, and students like Tresa’s youngest, Joshua, are enjoying attending school for the first time. On the downside, inflation is still high, and food shortages are becoming an issue as their staple food is being smuggled to a neighboring country who’s experiencing alarming conflict. Zambia is also re-vamping their currency, which is scheduled to launch sometime in January. While I’m back in the US, Zambia is still growing and changing as a third-world country with great potential in its young and eager population. Incredible stuff.

Specifically with CiH, the sewing training program isn’t just continuing; it’s thriving. Elina told me that there are so many Chikondi bracelets made right now, they’re overflowing from the bags they’re in. The women have also learned how to make 6 different types of skirts, they’re learning how to make dresses without patterns (an incredible skill, just to let you know, if this vocab isn’t so familiar to you), and they’re starting to learn how to make school uniforms next week.  The women have used the training they’ve acquired, in both business and sewing, to sell the quality products they’ve made, even selling in local markets. The money they earn from your purchase of Chikondi bracelets, the women are able to set aside to purchase fabrics and notions to create these other garments for sustainable, independent incomes. Their voices are proud and enthusiastic. These women aren’t the same women I met back in July. Hope has changed them from the inside out.

Connecting with the women to hear what they’ve been up to, though, reminded me of why things are so crazy this season with fundraising, why I’m doing what I do, and why you are such a vital part of this equation too. It’s not a burden- it’s a gift. It’s a gift to be involved in the lives of people across the world, learning from them, blessing them, sharing life with them, and seeing just how love impacts entire families and communities.

So while this holiday season is filled with an emphasis on generosity and giving, let’s be reminded that the gift isn’t really the gift at all; it’s the giving, the recognition that what we have can impact lives across the world. The recognition that we are beyond blessed. The moment when we give that someone else realizes they’re worth it. It’s our joy to be a part of the lives of 11 Zambian women, and it’s our joy to give this season. Thank you for being a part of what CiH is doing in Zambia and in the US this holiday season. Thank you for helping us get just one step closer to our goal of 70K for 2013 through your support, purchasing of Chikondi products, and encouragement. As the women wanted me to pass along to you from our Thursday phone call, “Zikomo” (thank you).

With Chikondi, Amy