Before this story can even begin, I want to remove any notion that our artisans are serious or timid. Valencia may look like these things on the outside at first glance, but when she opens her mouth she is a confident and empowered woman with a whole lot of sass. Valencia is one of our Nkombo Island artisans who serves on the cooperative committee, has three kids, and a husband who is very involved with the church on the island.
Valencia stepped into the center of the graduation ceremony with a quiet boldness to give a testimony to what the cooperative and literacy class have done in her life. She dominated the microphone and the space as she recounted her former world of carrying heavy loads on her back and hunching over with a garden hoe all while carrying her child. She lived a life of extremely hard work and was left feeling less-than enough. Valencia didn’t just want to tell us how she used to live, but used two women in a surprise skit to act out what she was describing, and it was awesome.
Ever since Hands Producing Hope entered Valencia’s life, she has felt like she can provide for her family more than ever before and her work is so much less exhausting.
At the ceremony, Valencia proudly explained to the crowd,
"I now have a TV and I like to sit in my living room, put one foot over the other, and say, ‘God, you really did a great job.'"
Sounds pretty good to us and oh, what a change from her former life. The change doesn’t end here.
Valencia is a new name to this sweet woman. Her former name meant laziness (seriously, this woman is anything but lazy.) When her husband saw the beautiful changes of spirit and potential in her, he knew he needed to give her a new name. He named her Valencia, which means, “heart of the home.” That hit us hard.
Every woman wants to be validated and for this mother, validation was being productive, creative, and hospitable to her family and her community.
Here’s to positive change and treating yourself to watching TV with your feet up.
July 5, 2017