Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Adrenalin Rush

Our first afternoon in Kampala was spent at a Compassion International Child Survival Program.

"We were greeted as we got off the bus by several women who were introduced to us in the church as staff or volunteers at the church for the CSP program. Inside we sang with the women and their babies, heard testimony from two of the women, and got reports from the overseer and the program facilitator. We were shown case files of several women to illustrate how the program works to monitor the health of both mom and baby. They showed us the beautiful woven mats, bags, and baskets, paper bead jewelry, and crocheted items that they make to sell. Then we split up and half of us spent time with the crafters learning to make the paper beads and the other half went to the play room. Then we switched. When everyone loaded on the bus for the home visits, Paul and I stayed so that I could teach the crafters to make yarn and crochet bags our of old plastic bags." (Excerpt from Uganda journal)

Teaching the craft at the CSP project has a place in my heart of special importance. I saw it on Ravelry, learned how to make the plastic yarn (plarn) from grocery bags and found a great pattern to try. I immediately realized the potential for this as an income generating craft for CSP moms. I was actually that specific in my thoughts. Problem was, how to get it to them. I didn't know who to talk to or even how we would transmit the information from here to all the CSP projects around the world. I hadn't figured it out yet when I was approached by our Uganda tour guide. She knew we would be visiting a CSP project on our very first day in Kampala and asked if I would be bringing along my plastic bag as a craft to teach. She guaranteed that I would have the chance to teach it, so I packed the bag I had made, a ball of prepared plarn, my one N crochet hook, and 4 or 5 plastic grocery bags.

While the others were off on home visits, I got to teach. As soon as I pulled the crocheted bag out of my backpack, the women swarmed around me. I pulled out the bags, hook, plarn, and my multi-tool and sent the sample bag passing from woman to woman. They had a couple pairs of scissors as well, so I showed them how to cut up the bags. We passed out the pieces so that everyone could have an opportunity to learn how to connect the loops. Once everyone was caught up on that part of the process, I took the sample bag and showed them, using basic English and turn-talk (translation into Luganda) to explain that the bag was crocheted from the center-bottom up. I then demonstrated how to make the chain with the women watching me very closely. Then I gave it ot one of the women sitting beside me to finish the chain. When it was a good length, I took it back and demonstrated the single crochet along the chain, the increases on the end, and the return on the other side. I kept handing it off to the two ladies sitting beside me (with the others watching closely) as I went. Once we were done with the first row, I handed it off entirely and simply followed as the first woman taught the second, who taught the third...and so on. I simply offered corrections and demonstrations as needed along the way. By the time we had to stop, at least seven women had learned by working on it and we had about two inches of a bag started. Then the matter of getting more hooks arose. One of the women took a look at mine and declared that they could make them. She looked at me and I knew her unspoken question...I told her that they could keep my hook. Not only that, I made a promise. I would purchase some when I got home and send them back with a woman from the local office when she came to visit in a few weeks. They promptly informed me they would need forty of them.

I was so stoked after that one hour! That is what I love and want to do. How do I get more?

So I'm back here in the States working to keep my promise of getting forty, size N crochet hooks back to the CSP moms I met that day. I will not let them down.

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