The Bead Women have had what can surely be described as a whirlwind first few months. We didn't know if this project would actually work, and we had no idea what to expect as we went along.
The project has been a challenge for every woman involved. We are all learning--and there is a lot to learn. Sometimes that presents huge obstacles, and sometimes it's fascinating. It has been a blessing to know that we have a lot supporters, some far away, some here at home, but all are enthusiastic.
Today we held our first big crafts sale. It was at Opportunity School, where some of the refugee women attend English classes or have in the past. Doing an event like this is sort of like throwing a party when you don't really know if anyone will show up. Well, our party was well attended. Sales were excellent, and although the financial end of things was exciting, there was something else about today that will be memorable far longer than the excitement of healthy sales.
Our room was busy almost nonstop for the four hours of the sale. Not everyone who came was a customer. We saw a lot of people from the school, students and staff alike. Quite a few people from the refugee network here took time from their busy day (and they are busy) to visit, as did other people from the larger community who have heard about this project. Haiffaa and Khadiga were on hand to meet their public, and they were fine ambassadors for their project.
Over and over we were praised for our hard work. Plenty of folks asked, "How can I help?" Words of encouragement surrounded us all day. The money was a very good thing, but we can never assign a value to the outpouring of support and kind words we received today.
All of us who work on this project have been working very, very hard. Sometimes our efforts are rewarding, and sometimes we come away from the day very frustrated. After months of pouring most of our energy and all of our spare time into trying to get the crafts project off the ground, it looks like we're really on our way. Up until now, these blog posts have been a reflection of our focus: How is this working for the refugee women involved? Today I stood in the middle of the room, surrounded by colleagues, students, and visitors and watched their smiles and facial expressions of curiosity and delight. I listened to a shower of kind words full of enthusiasm and encouragement. I watched people marvel over Anna's fabulous product tags that put the women's faces and names with the things they had made. "This is great" was something we heard over and over.
Personally, I've been exhausted lately, but today was a very good day and energizing in its own way. When I realized just how much community support we have, it was like having a refreshing glass of water on a hot day. I think that all of us who have been putting our hearts into this project forget to take time to appreciate all we've accomplished. It's nice that others are taking the time to remind us that our time has been well spent. We're not in this for the "thank you," but standing in a room full of happy people who are excited about what we're trying to do, seeing that they are filled with enthusiasm and encouragement, felt like a big hug and an A+ rolled up in one.
It was a good day.