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Mish mosh

Aiyo, so much to talk about! I’m not really even sure where to begin as it seems I’ve lived many lives in the past couple of weeks. A mish mosh it is then… stream of consciousness will be the order of the day. Rewind to Christmas. Things have been a bit chaotic here throughout the holidays, and Christmas itself was a particularly fun and bizarre time. As I may have mentioned before, this is the first one I’ve spent away from my family, and my first spent away from the cold. This year my whole experience was rife with dissonance- hearing Christmas carols blasting in 90 degree weather and seeing Sri Lankans clad head to toe in Santa outfits, wearing white gloves and masks over dusk colored skin. Christmas eve was spent mucking through rice paddies and cow pies, as I participated in an organized group run (think an hour of fun and easy running, and food and drink and socializing afterwards) then we were off to a small get together at the fulbright fellows’ house. We had more rice and curry, then hot chocolate and fudge. We talked of politics and health, of culture and customs. Christmas day I was invited to a family lunch at my friend Niranjala’s house, it was beautiful, and lovely to be integrated into a family during this time of year. She even bought me a present knowing that I would probably not receive any from back home! That eve was equally pleasurable and I (along with a bucket of KFC) hosted my friend British Cathy, and several members of an international band based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. They hail from Trinidad and Tobego, Malaysia, New Zealand… the missing members were from South Africa and Los Angeles. It is through dialogue with this type of world traveller that I realize how we might positively impact the world. Last week I was thrilled to host Michelle, a “young old soul” and one of my best friends for the past 8 years. Michelle is the Microfinance partnerships manager for Kiva in the Caribbean, Central and South America. Not only was it a pleasure to host her and travel with her as a friend, but it was wonderful to bring her to our Ma Sevana workshop and hear her expert insight on our current status, our past, and our future. Michelle fell in love with the babies at the orphanage, and the girls fell in love with her for her utter goofiness and unfaltering energy. Michelle and the twins Speaking about more quantifiable progress, Emerge work has been fun, challenging, and has been keeping me on my toes. I’ve been revisiting our inventory system as it is appropriate to our current homees, and exploring how it will develop if we extend our programs to work with women outside of the homes. I’ve been researching how we can function best within Sri Lanka, if it would benefit the organization to establish a for profit or not-for-profit entity here, as the political climate is not hugely friendly toward foreign NGO’s. I’ve been speaking with the export manager at the National Gem and Jewelry Authority about the logistics of our expansion- evaluating the pros and cons of import/export as a for profit or as a not-for-profit. I’ve also been spending much time with hands on development, from assembling and reorganizing all of our inventory accumulated since the program’s inception to creating documents to track and best distribute tools and other program materials. I am happy to know that all of the girls now have the tools required to do the job (seemingly an easy task, but we’ve encountered all kinds of speed bumps with sourcing, maintenance, quality…) One of my next focuses will be on the Bead Program’s “welcome” and “goodbye” materials, as turnover is picking up and often we are unaware of a girl’s departure until after it occurs. One such girl, SR, was sort of my first partner in crime. She was one of the first to welcome me and smile warmly- it was she who showed me how to make my first necklace. I was so sad to hear that she was gone, but thrilled to hear that she was back with her family and would be coming to collect supplies at our other workshop. I was so happy to see her at our workshop on Thursday- she brought her sweet baby and her mother. SR looked relaxed and happy. I’m so glad we’ll be in touch. On other notes, I took a bit of time to myself the other day and made my first bracelet. It’s actually a lot harder than in looks, and in my opinion requires much more mental planning than the 60 inch necklaces, as you need to not only think about how the beads look consecutively but also how each loop fits into the design as a whole. My first bracelet And last but certainly not least, I am so grateful for the bead donation sent by my grandparents in the states. Getting over to the post office to pick up the package was an adventure of its own, but I know the girls will be thrilled to have additional variety to play with. Thanks Grandma and Grandpa! Beads donated by my grandparents

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