Last week, we broke from our now-normal routine of visiting the women of the streets on Thrursday nights and went out on Wednesday night instead. Armed with candy, invitations (designed by yours truly), and prayers we sought out as many of the women that we could and gave them personal invitations to the jewelry/business classes that Jill and I would be teaching on Thursday nights – beginning the very next evening. We were generally well received, and invited twenty women to the class.
Jill and I spent the next day anticipating and getting ready for the class. We designed handouts, reviewed our curriculum, made sample jewelry. bought snacks and last minute supplies. Finally, we were on our way to the church – well over an hour early – to set up for the very thing we had spent so much time and energy preparing for.
We arrived at the church in plenty of time, and, with the help of Francis, Loly, and Anilssa, spent the next hour setting up tables and chairs, laying out supplies, setting up food, and making sure that the environment was safe, welcoming, and altogether functioning. As five thirty – the designated start time for the class – approached, a few other of the help from the church arrived. We waited.
Five thirty came and went.
Having spent the extra lapsed time taking photographs of our work, Jill approached. “I don’t think I’ve prepared myself for the idea that no one may come. What if no one comes?”
There is, of course, no answer for this. I had imagined no one coming just as many times as I had imagined everyone coming, but then again. I tend to imagine as many scenarios as possible before they happen to a certain degree of obsessiveness. The truth of the matter is, we are in a country that is foreign to us working with a population that is notoriously difficult to work with. It is difficult for the natives of the country to work with these women, and we are just two white girls from the United States. It was a very real possibility that no one would show up.
Fortunately, this was not the case. At about six o’clock three of the women with which we had been lucky enough to make some connection walked through the door, in all their loud, abrasive wonderfulness. Needless to say, they were greated enthusiastically by both Jill and myself.
By the time the class started – at nearly half past six – an hour of our two hour class time was gone. Despite having to drastically change our lesson plans to accomodate, they class was an overall success. With eleven total people, the people from the church learned and worked wonderfully with the women from the streets. Everyone was excited to learn to make earrings, and each of the women was able to leave with several pairs. They were genuinely proud of their accomplishments, and the significant shift in their demeanors from the beginning of the class to the end was an amazing transformation to watch.
Jill and I had the opportunity to learn about the lesson we had prepared, and along with the input from some of the people from the church, have made changes to this week’s lesson. We anticipate that after seeing the earrings the women who did come were able to leave with, more women will join us for this week’s class. Jill and I will spend the day tomorrow making near twenty pairs of earring from last week’s lesson, then, tomorrow night, we will hit the streets once again and offer these earrings to the women we missed – explaining that we missed them at class and wanted them to be able to still be a part of what we did, and of course, with the sincerest hopes that they will join us this Thursday.
This experience was the most rewarding that I have had in this country thus far, and I am already thinking about how the curriculum and skills I am learning here can be put to use in the United States.
I have attached a couple of pictures from our class to this blog, thanks to Jill and her wonderful photography skills 🙂