The Graduates

As promised, I want to share about the incredible graduates of the Heri sewing college. The first visit we had was Janet. When we arrived we were greeted by about 20 children who apparently flock to whoever in the neighborhood is hosting visitors. I remember that as a kid although we were usually flocking towards the homes with trampolines rather than people from distant lands. Janet graduated last year and now owns her property, provides for herself and family, bought a goat, and is saving for a cow. She sews outdoors under the shade of the palm trees and I have to admit, sitting in the gentle breeze hearing the rustling of leaves and the patter of the sewing machine was a little too good to be true. It was inspiring to see Janet have so much pride in her work and how she takes care of herself and others through sewing. She is so focused in the classroom, it was amazing to see her light up and have fun at home. I couldn’t leave without purchasing so,e fabric from her featuring graphic hippos which honestly terrify me to no end but I figure the best way to conquer your fear is to wear it. 

Our next visit with Grace the spitfire was right on the coast. When we arrived she immediately started referring to me warmly as sister and offered a cold coke. I hate coke so much but you best believe I finished every last drop for my sister. As I sat trying to stifle my forced gulping I couldn’t help but smile thinking about where I was in this moment and everything it took to get here. This amazing woman on the other side of the world is using our shared skill to provide herself and her family with a great life. She invited me in, offered me chilled diabetes in a glass bottle, and unleashed the grandest of belly laughs when I attempted to use the foot-powered sewing machine. These are the connections I’ve been dreaming of making. Grace now owns her own sewing shop and property which she spent the last year building her home on. Complete with a small solar panel, her two bedroom house shelters her and her soon-to-be-husband. Grace also owns nine cows, doubles her sewing shop as a hair salon, and sells milk on the side. She’s unstoppable. 

Our final visit was Marcy, a sweet, shy, and incredibly hard-working girl who won last years fashion show contest and now has her own sewing machine and serger at her sewing shop. Marcy makes enough to pay rent on her home, her sewing shop, and sends money to help out her family. You can just feel her determination and drive by standing near her. I can’t wait to see what she accomplishes, I have no doubts in my mind she will do great things. 


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Shannon AshfordComment