Friday, June 24, 2011
This is Clementine. She is currently enrolled in a sewing school with thirteen other students, all of whom are the heads of child-headed households. She has no parents. But she does have hungry siblings who are waiting at home for her.
We visited the newly opened, one room storefront schoolhouse where students were practicing sewing straight lines on white paper. They use pedal-powered machines. The windowless stucco room and shiny Singers create a disorienting mixed metaphor – Laura Ingalls Wilder in a dusty village shrouded in the eerie silence of economic depression.
But being with these students and their teacher was pure abundance.
They are serious.
And learning quickly.
Because sewing means that they will eat and bring home portions of rice, potatoes and school fees to their brothers and sisters. Maybe even health insurance.
They showed us their practice sheets.
A few shared their stories with us. One man from our group returned the blessing with a piece of his life dripping with heart and other reminded us all of Nehemiah and the wall he set out to help the people rebuild. He reminded us that they worked together, picking up the stones that were lying around as witnesses to the devistation of Jerusalem, and used them to lay a strong foundation. Nehemiah suggested rebuilding but it was the people who got up and began the “good work”.
The man who shared, usually reserved in demeanor, was fed by the passionate attention of the students in audience and his voice rode the wave of hope up and around the room, the words of Nehemiah like pixie dust falling on each shoulder, drawing lightened souls up from deep places.
We took lots of pictures.
And then they danced.
Because they have something to celebrate.
And dancing is what people their age should be doing anyway.