Today I was able to finally bring my camera into the prison and take photos of the women in the class! The photo above is my favorite out of the series. This photo is of Esther, who was enthralled by today’s class and whose concentration is evident in the photo.
Today we worked on making earrings out of fabric and manta. This technique is different than the manta beads and has several stages. First we made a base by gluing pieces of muslin together, painting a base coat onto the muslin, and sponging a second layer of paint on (to achieve a textured look). Next, we glued manta on the base and the final step, which we will complete on Thursday, is to embellish the edges with seed beads. The result is a large, flat “bead” that will be used for earrings.
The women enjoyed having even more control over the creative process and we all lamented together about the paint, glue, and general mess we were making of our hands. Painting of any kind is not something the women do in the prison and it was fun to have a class that was completely outside all of our comfort zones.
On the way back from the prison I talked with a woman who works in the prison every day and she told me the women have been selling their jewelry throughout the year. This is exciting news, as the goal of the education program is to teach skills that the women can use to earn income. The woman told me that she has been picking up supplies for the women at the local jewelry store and that she has custom ordered several pieces from them.
Hearing this news couldn’t have made me happier. There are many aspect of the education program, including fostering a sense of accomplishment and self-worth, creating space for creativity, and just plain having fun, but the most immediate goal of the program is to help the women earn income. Knowing the program is meeting this goal, in real time, and that the women feel confident enough to sell their work is a tremendous boost and it most certainly makes my painted, gummy fingertips worth it.