I love Honduras. I am really not sure why – but the first time I visited, I fell in love with the people. My family and I have been going to Honduras for over fifteen years now, usually a couple times a year on various mission opportunities. It began with a medical mission trip, and then branched into other “helps” type efforts in various areas of the country. We have built houses, distributed food, delivered Christmas stockings, renovated houses and participated in other medical missions, all the while, sharing God’s love.
Throughout the fifteen year span, I prayed for a personal ministry here that would use the specific gifts God has given me. I am a silversmith and a painter. I love all things artistic. Throughout the years, I offered my artistic abilities to the projects – but it always seemed like a frivolous touch.
I love beauty: like pretty curtains, and bold bright dishes that match bold bright walls; beautiful paintings of flowers or people. I love pretty boxes that sit on a table next to a pretty lamp and vase. I love the beauty in the blue sky as it meets the ocean’s deep blue and I the smoky haze in the mountains at dusk. When I see these things, my soul is fed and I am reminded of the beauty of God.
But in a country where so many people are wondering where their next meal is coming from, how can any of that mean anything at all?
I always felt that even in its frivolity, beauty in curtains or dishes or flowers would lift the spirits of those who received them. Yet, I yearned for so much more in terms of impact. I hoped and prayed for a way to use my artistic gifts to really help people.
Nearly 5 years ago, God introduced me to Mi Esperanza, which, as you know, is geared to helping Honduran women lift themselves out of abject poverty through learning a trade. At that time, we offered sewing classes, business/computer classes and a beauty school. Graduates from the sewing school are highly skilled tailors, those from the beauty school are able to secure jobs in local salons or start their own, and the graduates from the business school can find employment in the workplace as receptionists and more. All of these classes are provided free to our students.
When I connected with Janet Hines and Lori Connell the co-founders of the program, and expressed the desire to use my gifts to help Honduran people, They understood. This was a path they had walked many years before me. Together, we developed the framework for the beginnings of a jewelry school, starting with three women and trained them to make basic jewelry. Their skills grew over time and a year ago, we had five women employed to make the jewelry for the Mi Esperanza label.
Now, by the grace of God, we have been contracted to create jewelry for a few labels in the United States. As a result, we have now trained over sixty women in skills that have allowed them to work for us producing nearly 100,000 pieces of jewelry. We are overwhelmed that we have been able to offer work and skills training to so many women.
We like to say that at Mi Esperanza, that if you elevate women you can change the world. Thank you so much for joining with us on this adventure in hope and of positive change.
Julie (instructor, board member, in house jewelry designer)