Featured Artist – Lori and Mi Esperanza

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featured-artist-mi-speranza

A few weeks ago, before I went on my wonderful State-side trip (you remember, a wedding, crafting with the bestie… you don’t remember? Click here or here or here to see some of the things I was up to.) But before that I got a chance to go over to the mainland to the capitol city of Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Another missionary friend and I flew over from Roatan to attend the Women Of Purpose Conference. Let me sum up by saying: amazing. I adored the conference and the women there. If you are a female missionary in Honduras, drop me a line and we will meet up at the next conference in November – FYI it’s totally free: food, lodging, everything. Seriously amazing. But, one of the biggest blessings of that weekend? Hands down. Lori. You may not know who Lori is, so lemme introduce you… Lori is one of those instant BFF women. One of those women you meet and say to yourself “Oh yeah, we will definitely get along well.” Someone could literally drop you in the murder capitol of the world and I would feel 100% safe with her leading you. Wait, that’s exactly what  happened… We landed in Tegucigalpa, the murder capital of the world (heres the BBC article,) and met Lori’s husband, Mark. Yes, we got in the car with a stranger… sorry mom! Mark drove us to their home and we had coffee and chatted and we met Lori. Then we got into her blue 1970s vintage Land Cruiser with no seat belts and felt totally safe. We laughed and joked as we sped around little back streets as we headed to the conference.  I just realized, this section of my post should totally have a different title block:

 

why-i-love-lori-title-block

That’s Lori. Her smile is so inviting. I know you want to be BFFs with her now too. Which I am sure she would totally be down with. That’s how wonderful she is. So the above picture is of Lori in front of the door leading into the Mi Esperanza shop. It has a sign on it that says “electroterapia.” That translates to: Electrotherapy. What?! Yes, Mi Esperanza is located in what used to be a hospital/rehab center. When I say used to, I mean that I am pretty sure the beds and medical equipment are still there, but the patients are not. Things work differently in Honduras. I seriously expected Lori to open that door and to see this:

electrotherapy-vintage-photo

But thankfully, Lori and Mark and some friends renovated that room and turned it into this: A boutique for all the creations of Mi Esperanza.

Mi-Esperanza-shop-wall

Mi Esperanza is Spanish for “My Hope” and began in 2002 with a vision to provide assistance for women in the villages surrounding Tegucigalpa, Honduras. They now providing micro-business loans and skills training to women living in extreme poverty. Many of the women are single mothers who are supporting their families without any type of assistance or opportunity to change their life circumstances.  Their lives are about survival and trying to meet the most basic of needs of life; food, clean water, education, healthcare and shelter. Women living in extreme poverty simply do not have opportunity for education, in turn they do not have the knowledge they need to succeed in business or help to get their families out of poverty.  Mi Esperanza provides free training in three separate areas: computer, salon, and sewing.  Offering women the opportunity to obtain a skill offers them the tools to open doors to a self-sustaining life.  Research and experience shows us that women in poor countries are more likely to spend their income on food, education, and healthcare for their children (which is really not so different than the priorities that most mothers have worldwide.) Education is a long-term investment that lifts entire families and communities out of poverty. When the family income is in the hands of the mother a child’s chances of surviving increases by 20%.  (according to the United Nations 2011 report) This is why economic opportunity for women is so important to ending the extreme poverty that cripples communities in the developing world.

Enter Lori and Mi Esperanza. Training is provided in the respective field: computers, salon, or sewing… along with basic business skills, and the women begin to see that they can make a difference in the lives of their family members.

Maria-sewing-class

 

sewing-class

Above is the sewing teacher, Maria. She is a legit tailor/seamstress. She teaches the women all the skills they will need to one day succeed in the sewing business, from simple fabric cutting and machine work to pattern making and finishing techniques. When the women graduate form Mi Esperanza many will go into their respective communities and become the seamstress or tailor for that area, with great success. A few who live near the training center are invited to join the Mi Esperanza team as seamstresses, who create bags, purses, and clothing for the shop. The women set their own prices for each item (to ensure they are being paid a fair wage.) All proceeds from the sale of items in the shop go back into the Mi Esperanza training centers. It is a beautiful thing: these women who were blessed with free classes, now have jobs to provide for their families, plus their work is going to fund the education of other women and will help lift other families out of desperate situations. It’s the circle of love. Love gives and gives and gives. It reproduces it self over and over from one person’s life to the next.

vintage-machine

Check out some of Mi Esperanza’s beautiful creations:

bags

Here’s the amazing clutch I got for myself:

 my-clutch

It is extremely well made, durable, and so so cute!

All of Mi Esperanzas amazing products are available on their website: http://thewomenofmyhope.org

Go check them out, and remember that every purchases go to help fighting poverty in this generation and the next.

xoxo, April

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