Women who lead other women are always of interest to me. Such is the case with the mother hen who is teaching the sewing class in Quesmay. Um Rghad is a divorced mother with two daughters in college. Her weathered face is stern yet loving. In class, she is a cross between a drill sergeant and first grade teacher. During our last visit she couldn’t stop bragging about the skill that her 15 students had already displayed in just 5 lessons. Bringing a skirt that one of the students had made, she remarked that “this stitching would take normal students 15 lessons to achieve.” The students were thrilled by our visit. Like well acculturated Americans we brought a meal of Manaish (bread with spices) and juice to share with the class. When they took their break we got to spend time getting to know them better and talk to them about the bags we will be making in the future. They had many questions for my us. About our family, where we were from, and as usual why we're having some many kids. “So much for family planning,” was Um Rghad’s joyful comment. We explained that each one was planned and each one is a blessing to raise and love. The ladies all responded well to seeing the sample bags I had brought. Um Rghad remarked that she was going to memorize two of the designs and make them for her daughters because she loved them so much. By the end of our talk the students were very eager to start working on making the handbags, but I tried to reassure them that each lesson that Um Rghad was teaching them had a specific purpose. Because our goal is not that you only know how to make a purse but that you develop math skills, measuring skills, group interaction skills, and leadership development that you can use not just in the classroom but in your own house and the community. Um Rghad and the ladies seemed very pleased to have us there and I am eagerly awaiting our next visit.
Yesterday, we had the opportunity to share some of the principles of Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University with a small group of Arab women. These are some of the same women who are currently in sewing training classes and who will hopefully be making the Ten Thirty Three bags. It went well, and they seemed interested for the most part. Hopefully, it peaked their interest enough that they will want to continue developing some of the habits and skills to appropriately budget their income. Even though their income is nearly nothing. Some of these women live in homes with young children and are living on about 350 dollars a month. It is hard to talk to them about financial choices when most of their income goes to buy food. Milk can cost $6 a gallon. Regardless, they still have some choices, and we want to help them make the best ones.
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