Here is this week's Messenger column, Work of Our Hands.
Most of us are familiar with the generosity of Crafters. Many crafters donate handmade goods to charities, hospitals and other good works. Valarie Garber has taken this concept to a whole new level. I recently ‘met’ Valarie while researching a book I’m writing. Here is a little of her craft story.
Valarie Moved to Nambia in 2002. "I moved reluctantly to Windhoek, Namibia with my husband" says Valarie. "What is a sculptor and craft designer to do in Africa of all places?” Well, design crafts and sculpt of course! Valarie has extensive experience in the craft field; she tried many different mediums however found it difficult to focus on just one. In Africa Valarie discovered a reason for all the seemingly unrelated skills she had acquired over a lifetime. In a country divided by poverty Valarie decided that she could teach art & craft to unskilled Africans in the hope of providing an income. “Work of Our Hands” was created. Valarie began teaching a group of unemployed ladies to make paper mache bowls, before expanding to bead work, jewellery making, pottery, and sewing. Recently they added a ceramic bead making project.
Teaching in another culture is not without its challenges. Valarie recounts her first class, “Africans are typically late, and it drives me crazy! I tell them that in my culture it is very disrespectful to the teacher to be late. Also in America I was paid for teaching and since they do not pay me, what they can do is show me respect by being on time. Furthermore, anyone who is more than 15 min. late cannot stay, but must come back the next week.
I remember teaching a bead class to a new group once. Fifteen min. after the class was suppose to start, no one had arrived. I went home. Next week everyone was there on time.” Another challenge is language, “I was teaching 5th graders in an international school when I said “Well, there’s more than one way to skin a cat” All the kids looked at me in shock and horror! That was until I said “just an expression, I didn’t really mean it!”
Work Of our Hands is a Not For Profit organisation. If you would like to read more about Valarie’s African Crafting adventure visit http://workofourhands.blogspot.com/