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How did you get connected to us?
"I went on a missions awareness trip to Kenya in college. Amani ya Juu in Nairobi was one of the places we visited, and I was tremendously touched by what I saw there.
Of course, the products were beautiful, but it was more what they represented that touched me. Seeing first hand how these women, who had endured such tragic things, were empowered by education, skill, relationships, and Jesus truly blessed me."
Why did you name your daughter "Amani"? "On that trip, I bought a wooden keychain cut in the shape of Africa with the word "Amani" engraved on it. I said right there that I would name my daughter Amani. When we found out she was a girl we didn't consider any other name. We named our four children very deliberately and prayerfully. For her, I pray that she will know the Peace that only Jesus gives and that she will spread that Peace to all she meets."
Tell us about your daughter!
"She is very proud of her name and loves to tell people about it. Amani is 8 and loves being my cohost at parties and knowing that we are helping to make a difference in the lives of mommas and their families."
What would you say to those considering volunteering?
"Do it! I am an extreme introvert, so I was afraid I didn't know enough people. I have four kids and homeschool, so I am very busy. There may be a few reasons not to do it, but the reasons for volunteering definitely outweigh those against. By hosting these parties, we are helping to make a difference in the lives of the women who make the products, as well as those who purchase them. Not to mention, the products are beautiful!!"
Why did you decide to start volunteering? "A few years ago, I decided to look up Amani ya Juu online. I was thrilled to see that there was a way to be involved here in the States. I had recently left my job as a nurse to stay home with my kids, and I was looking for a way to make a difference, especially in the two things I love, Africa and mommies=) ."
What advice do you have for new volunteers?
"Since I have my parties in my home, I have the challenge of getting the word out. I print out several invitations and carry them with me to hand out. Also, I send out Facebook event invites about a month in advance. During the weeks leading up to my party, I post pictures of products to give people an idea of what the party is about. I realized with my first party that people thought that it was a party for my daughter, so I had to clarify.
I also post videos and stories or pictures of the women at Amani ya Juu. I try with each new party to improve on the last. For example, this year, I brought in my full length mirror, for those who wanted to try on bags or scarves or jewelry. I bought a jewelry tree to hang and display the necklaces and bracelets. Also, I felt like the message was sometimes being lost in all the chatting and shopping and eating. So, this year, I made little fact cards about Amani ya Juu and placed them around the merchandise and food.
I also have cute little bags on hand for the jewelry and smaller accessories. The host resources and suggestions on the website are wonderful! I play African music in the background and have the Amani dvd playing in my living room. I have to have treats at my parties! The Kenyan Chai has been a hit. This year, we also did the Mount Kilimanjaro cookies. I have not attempted to make the samosas yet, but I buy them frozen. Then I throw in a seasonal dessert. I am still working on a perfect system for money keeping and counting!"