“I slept and I dreamed that life is all joy. I woke and I saw that life is all service. I served and I saw that service is joy.” ― Kahlil Gibran
Many of my childhood memories are those of my mother serving others, whether that was hosting well or translating important documents for a Spanish speaking family. Our home was filled with family members and guests who needed a place to stay, even if just for a short time. Our home was not perfect and we did not have much, but I see now that it was considered a safe place for many. My family had difficult financial times and have been the recipients of other’s generosity at times.
Early on, my parents shared the importance of education as a way to have a better chance at a stable, better paying career. My parents had not gained a college education and there was no question that I would go to college. The desire to help others led me to receive an undergraduate degree in Psychology and a graduate degree in Counseling. I have worked in both non-profit social work settings and education, since I am passionate about both.
Last year I went on my first service trip. A large group from my church partnered up with On the Ground and spent two weeks in Ethiopia, with the purpose of building a high school in a remote village named Wachuge. The community does not have access to education past 8th grade. Not having a high school is extremely limiting, since students cannot go to college without a high school degree. A high school is a real game changer. A high school means that they can go on to medical school. A high school means the students can go on to become teachers. A high school means the students can go on to become lawyers. It changes everything and offers more opportunities for this loving community. We raised enough funds to build the school! I left Ethiopia with a full heart. I enjoyed our time there, we got to know the people and their culture. We met coffee farmers and participated in awesome coffee ceremonies! This is great, however, the village still has other needs. I know there is more we can do and more we will do. We will return and continue to work closely with the people of Wachuge in order to help improve their community.
Upon returning to Savannah, I began taking jewelry classes (enameling and metalsmithing). The classes were a great stress reliever. I also met some awesome people in my classes. As a recovering perfectionist, I went all out on my first day in Enameling. I started with a large bib necklace as my first project. When I dropped one of the strips in the kiln, I said, “Oh no! It’s all bumpy now.” My teacher, Christi Reiterman, helped me get it out of the bottom of the oven and casually said, “That’s all part of the process. I can’t tell you how many things I’ve dropped. Don’t worry, it has character now. Look at all those cool waves and patterns.” Life changed. As I continued on into a Metalsmithing class, I realized how much I love making personalized stamped jewelry. The first piece I made was a copper bracelet with “Wachuge” stamped on it. I created this as a daily reminder to keep things in perspective. I did not want to forget what I learned from my time in Wachuge. Friends began asking where I bought my jewelry, when I told them I made it they asked if I could make a custom piece for them. I realized that this could be a great opportunity to help raise funds for Wachuge. So, here I am, trying something new and feeling a little vulnerable. My goal is to use a new passion (jewelry making) in order to assist in making life better for the people of Wachuge and others in need.
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