Can I tell you about an organization that I find crazy inspiring? It is called SHONA. They sell handmade bags in Goma, DRC. Now there are a lot of companies/organizations throughout the world that make handmade bags. I love seeing how people in tough living situations can come into a trade and be able to support their family and boost their living situation. There are so many good stories like that and they don’t get old. SHONA is a little different because the group of women who make these bags all suffered from Polio or other incidents that resulted in the loss of use of their legs. Being disabled when you have access to healthcare and a stable living situation is tough, but these women live in a land that has little health care stability and is over and over covered with violence. They have persevered through that and have gone on to lift themselves out of poverty.
One of the women (you can read about all of the women on their website) told a story about how her mother would have to go and hide her out in the woods when they would hear rumors about violent groups coming through their village. After she was well hidden her mother would return to the village to make sure everything was in order and then come back to spend the night. She is still amazed at the dedication and love her mother had for her. She understands the danger living in Eastern Congo, without the ability to flee.
Eventually she ended up in Goma at the Center for people with Disabilities and met other women with similar disabilities. Together they formed SHONA. Their lives are not easy by any means, but they have found strength in being able to support their growing families and being united in community. They often sing while they work and there are a number of videos of them doing so on their website.
Another woman was able to build a home for her mother, room by room, with the profits from her sewing work.
SHONA is just another example of how our life circumstances don’t have to determine the way things turn out. These women had plenty of setbacks, but because they persevered they have changed the course of their life for not only themselves, but their families too.
Check out the website and read the stories of these amazing women and how they fought against all odds to be where they are today.