Last week, the American women of A Little Something found themselves overwhelemd with responsibilities and engagments. Somehow, though, we managed to work our way through it.
On top of all of the usual contributors to the fast pace of our life, Susan, Anna, and Sharon are working with a small group of Somali Bantu girls as part of a self-esteem-building program. We meet with the girls once a week and attempt to show them how to make jewelry. That would be three childless women from twenty-something to fifty-something, trying to navigate the world of middle school girls while also trying to get the girls to settle down and focus for five mintes ("Are you listening to me? Don't look at her, she's not the one talking to you. Where are your crimping pliers? You can't use them in class if you leave them at home..."). Every time we walk into that building I wonder how anyone survives middle school.
On Friday night, we eventually all made it to the same place, although definitely not at the same time. We were in good company--the entire room was a fair-trade market with the like of Beads for Life and Handcrafting Justice just a few tables away. We weren't the only ones selling jewelry and fiber arts, and we worried that we would be overlooked in favor of more polished vendors.
Somehow, we were totally unprepared for the pace of the evening and the size of the crowd. We weren't even finished setting up when people started coming by. We talked--a lot. We sold a lot. We saw many, many familiar faces, and although some had heard bits of information about our project, few had any idea of just how much progress we've made in the six months A Little Something has been...something.
Through the course of the evening, we never had the chance to sit down, let alone take a break. We were sure to let visitors know that our crafters are right here in our city--you don't need to look to far-off countries to find women who are working to craft their way out of poverty. In between showing merchandise, we tried to fit in stories about the refugee women who created everything we had to sell.
Haiffaa was supposed to work the table with us, but she was working the room--she has a lot of fans after her stunning presentation earlier in the week. Khadiga's daughters heard the siren song of drumming, dancing, food, and fun, and we didn't have the heart to pull them away from the ballroom.
So, we worked, explained, greeted, laughed, talked, smiled, and generally connected with a very interested crowd. We talked some more, shook a lot of hands, wrote up sales, smiled 'til our faces hurt, and finally, when the night came to an end, we were all thirsty, hungry, exhausted, and proud--very proud of the women and the tremendous amount of work they produced just for this night, and for the creative souls and savvy style mavens they have become. We were even a little proud of ourselves, but what we felt more than anything was our feet. They hurt...but it was totally worth it.