I did not know the day myÂ mother left.Â Â I did not sense her dread, fear or discomfort.Â Our lives remained well ordered and secure.
In my 5 year old world,Â her journey created an unforgettable adventure.Â Â For my sister and I were placed in the care of two missionary families. They did their best to amuse us and keep us activeÂ while my mom undertook a dangerous humanitarianÂ project.
Her trip was the culmination of a program named Operation Dorcas which derived it’s inspiration from a widow lady who sewed clothes for women and orphans in distress in Biblical times.Â The difference of this modern day Dorcas operation in the early 1970’s expanded the outreach to men and women who labored long hours on treadle style sewing machines under Mom’s direction to make clothing for the victims of the BiafranÂ war.Â It wasÂ her job to teach them a trade and help these individuals who were refugees to get back on their feet byÂ making garments forÂ others.
It was only later, that I would hear of the journey my mother took in the belly of the beast; an apt name for a cargo plane stripped of essential elements, such as seats.
I was told ofÂ how she carried her own chairÂ which was braced by the relief items that the plane was carrying to war torn Biafra in the eastern region of Nigeria.Â Â Brutal scenes ofÂ devastation and starvation unfolded as people rushed to the landing strip when the plane landed to unload the clothing, food and relief supplies.Â TheseÂ were scenes which she would never forget Â in the aftermath of the horrific war that almost divided the most populous nation on the African continent.
But the ongoingÂ tragedy of our world today is that every day around the world, someone is still being devastated by war.Â Today, there are more wars and more suffering human beings than at any other time in history.Â And the aftermath of this reality, which displaces a vast sea of humanity with searing physical and emotional scars, still requires that people somehow learn anew the work of re-building a life.
So, when I heard about a fellow real estate agent, Sue PrinsÂ from Grand Rapids who went to South Africa to teach people how to sew and make a living through the use of treadle machines, my interest was piqued.Â For it reminded me of the work my Mom was involved with in her 30’s.
This project named Vox Threads is using the treadle machine to fight anotherÂ form of war…a war caused by the devastation of poverty and HIV AIDS which has left so many in this impoverished South African community without any means of livelihood.
SueÂ & her daughter Ginger travelled to Kliptown, South Africa to give people the gift of life.Â The gift of the tools through which to build a skill to knit together a new framework of provision to sustain themselves and their families.Â Â This reminds me that many of the solutions that our world needs today are not new nor do they need to be to work.
The solutions we need require things like persistence, patience, generosity, perseverance, common sense and compassion.Â These are ingredients which all of us have the capacity to give in some measure.
It can be as simple as keeping two little girls distracted and happy while their Mom was on a mission in Biafra, or donating to an organization like Vox Threads which helps people mend their lives again.Â Or, you can simply GO…as Rocky Turner, the founder of Mothers Fighting For Others is to the little girls at St. Monica’s Children’s Home where she will work alongside others who are caring for these incredible young women.
The treadle machine symbolizes how our feet can be in motion to make something of value anywhere we are or choose to go.Â When one uses a treadle sewing machine, the motion of the feet creates the power to drive the motor which moves the sewing needle forward.Â A metaphor for the path of life isn’t it? It’s about walking the walk, not simply talking the talk. Â Where will you choose to put your feet to work today?
Picture courtesy of aussiegall on flickr