7500 miles by air, miles of bumpy dirt roads by car and I have finally arrived at my 1st artisan workshop. This truly is why I do what I do. 50 trucks shows in the heat, rain, and cold. Standing on my feet 14 plus hours at a show telling story after story. For me it comes down to these moments when I get to step into our artisan’s world.
Meet Jean (French for John). He is a wood carver at Azizi Life. He began to shyly tell me his story. He is one of the 1st weavers at the cooperative. He was a farmer and he had no idea how to carve. He was invited by a group of nuns to try. So he did. You see Jean is disabled and in a 3rd world country it’s difficult to get a job even if you are able bodied. As he was telling me his story, he got more excited. He said the nuns had someone from Italy come and train him. He said “I worked hard to learn.” Then his smile got so big. “I learned!” He started sharing what it meant when Azizi Life started buying from his cooperative. He was able to work full time carving and provide for his family. How many kids do you have? His smile got huge, “2 boys!” Do you have a picture? Now all the artisans started whipping out their phones! I pulled out my phone and they all leaned in. They wanted to see my kids. They started asking me about my life. I showed them a picture of The Rolling Shack and I blew their minds! Will you teach me to carve? “YES!!” Guys, they make it look so easy. It is far from easy. They hand me a machete and here we go! I was going to edit this video but honestly this best part is the last frame where Foster (the gentleman who taught me to carve) and Jean in the background smile so big!! For that moment in time, we were just friends in a workshop carving. When I got ready to leave, I thanked them for sharing their craft with me. I told them they do such a beautiful job making the products, it’s now my turn to do my job- tell their story and sell their products! They smiled and said, “Please come back!” I left with my heart full of beautiful stories and special memories. I have a new found respect for their work. No machines are used just machetes, knives, wooden hammers, and sometimes a block of wood! I saw the honey dipper and loved it. When I saw that it took Jean 2 hours to hand craft it, I looked at it in a whole new light. I will be posting pictures of items that I will be bringing back and things that will be arriving soon. The Honey Dipper will be put online today and my guess is that it will sell out! At only $5, it’s a beautiful way to support an amazing ministry and have a beautiful reminder of how you empowered artisans like Jean to provide for their family.