Thursday, November 4, 2010

Branching Out

Surrounded by bags and last-minutes "I shoulda's" in the hours before presenting to the social concerns committee at Providence College, I couldn't shake the feeling of inadequacy and internal struggle.

I told myself that it was because I'd slept in that morning and not managed to shower before the day's work consumed my hours. Once I got clean and actually put a little bit of thought onto what garments to throw across my body, surely my confidence would rise.

I'd spent a few days reading information on the internet- trying to get back in touch with the real issue here- war. Injustice. Fear, hunger, displacement. Personal responsibility.

And I felt all those things. I found myself trying to imagine being a woman whose children were raped, murdered, and chopped into pieces before my very own eyes. I tried to imagine being raped time and time again, and knowing that it would never really be over.

I tried to imagine being in that position and knowing that there were women in other parts of the world comfortably drinking hot coffee and watching these stories on You Tube.

I re-read the history of Darfur and Sudan, and tried to compose some sort of speech that sounded semi- intelligent and wouldn't leave me looking like a tired forty-something year old nobody who just mumbled IDUNNO a lot. But the facts and numbers just wouldn't stick. No matter how many books I've read, how many times I've stared at a map of Africa, or how often I read Mia Farrow's website... I just can't seem to rely on my grey matter to contain and release accurate information.

I shared my frustration with everyone who crossed my path.

My sister said that the magical shower wand would transform me.

My husband urged me to simply be honest- share my passion, regardless of my apparent inability to clearly remember history, geography, or where I last left the camera.

I arrived at Prov, and spread out my wares.

I still felt fetal on the inside, and like my words were jamming up and jumbling around between my teeth and fuzzy tongue. I kept up my internal dialogue between fear and intellect: Come ON! Wake up! Get With It! I reviewed my notes. I wasn't nervous, I just felt vaguely unprepared.

I knew that what Brian had said was wise. It resonated. This wasn't so much about presenting an historically accurate portrayal of war in the Sudan. This was about responding. This was about being moved to action.

I left feeling satisfied that I'd done the best I could have at the time, but frustrated by the limitations that I felt my brain had handicapped me with.
But I've always thought in swirls and coloured bits, and it's hard to feel academic in that state. It does enable me to sew odd things onto each other, squint at it sideways, and then add a touch or two. It does allow me to feel connected to people, their stories, and to be aware of the tenuous nature of this thing we call Life and Living.

In light of these convictions and passions, I'm happy to share with you a very special project that some dear friends of ours endeavor to do this Christmas. Instead of buying their children presents, they are all flying to Kenya, and participating in the construction of a sand dam which will provide a sustainable source of water for the inhabitants.
This weekend, there is an art auction to raise funds to pay for the construction of that sand dam, and here is the bag 4 that will become part of that event:

And ya know what? I don't pretend to know or understand the history of Kenya either.
What I do know, is that after some sales at Providence College, the total amount of funds raised through the bags 4 project is now $19, 396.00!
(sniffing around for some bags yourself? Come back soon, I got some stuff to show you)


JayP said...

Great tale. I am sure you rocked the group Joyce.

Who is that cute puppy adding more love to the bags?

Karen said...


Reading your blog and coveting the bags you make, the word "inadequate" would likely be the word the furthest outside my realm of thinking.

Many of us think about trying to make a difference, but few of us sacrifice so much time and invest so much love and creativity into doing so.

I think you're awesome and, wow, $19,000+ - that's hardly inadequate.


janice said...

WOW - $19K - one person CAN make a difference.

Ditto Karen's first paragraph.

I am SO happy to see Floey's fellow-pet there.

christine said...

you;ve got guts woman.

joyce said...

oh, that's my silly dog, Shadow.

thanks, all.

Jenni said...

Joyce, I was SO glad to have you out! Am I allowed to invite you out again? Will send an email...

gophercheeks said...

Your gift for making bags( and writing to tell about it)is a huge grace in this world and I just love you for it!
Have been missing getting on here everyday.... sigh.