Three miles after we got off the bus, walking along a rough and rocky road, my daughter and I stopped in front of Azucena's little shop along the single road in her little village. She was there, working on a picture she had painted on a piece of bark. She welcomed us warmly, and seeing our red, sweaty faces, brought us cold, creamy papaya smoothies. We sat chatting on handmade wooden chairs, surrounded by local paintings covering the walls, and shelves full of anything that might be desired by a rural Nicaraguan household: sugar, laundry soap, salt, coffee...
I had ordered forty pairs of "chapas" (earrings) from her, and she had them ready, plus several other pairs she insisted on giving me. It was fun to examine them, each pair different from the others; some were delicate and almost Victorian in feel, some were simple and modern.
It was one of those moments when you realize that it's not all about the earrings. It's about finding ways to support people who want to, and are able to help their neighbors better than an outsider ever could, because they see that bright kid passing by on a school day and know why he isn't in school.
Azucena was so excited to find a way that she can help kids like Norman finish his education! And since that time, she has started a "Saturday School," for kids who can't afford to go to school in town every day, to at least pick up some of the basics on weekends in their own community. She's even more "in the know" about which families need help, and which kids are the most likely to make use of a secondary education, if they could afford it. She's going to administer our Jewels for Schools program in her community, and I can't think of a better person to do it! To support this program in a natural, sustainable way, shop Azucena's one-of-a-kind earrings.