We often speak of creating jewelry from the heart at our studio. That is our message, our overriding message of guidance, as we handcraft and custom design jewelry for our clients. This story is a perfect example of jewelry from the heart and soul. It speaks of one young girl’s immense struggles and how a piece of jewelry symbolizes her strength, resilience and courage:
When Grace Freeman was eight months old, civil war forced her family, which included her mother and three siblings, to flee their native Liberia and resettle in a camp in Ghana that was home to some 47,000 refugees.
Grace wanted to go to school but it wasn’t free and her family had no money to send her. So they struck up a deal with a local woman: Grace could live with her and go to school but, in return, would have to do all of the housework.
The 7-year-old left her entire family behind in the refugee camp to move in with this woman who promised her an education. It wasn’t too long after, however, that Grace discovered she essentially had been sold into slavery.
She never got to attend school and, instead, was awakened as early as 3 a.m. to do a list of chores that it would take a normal adult a week to complete. She was beaten regularly.
One day 11 years later, an 18-year-old Grace was outside working her way through a pile of laundry when she heard a voice intoning her name, telling her, “Grace, go inside.” Though she knew she risked a beating by leaving her work, the internal guidance was too strong to ignore.
She trusted her instincts and entered the house, only to find her United Nations identification card on the table, documents her captor had hidden years earlier in order to claim Grace was her daughter and keep her as a slave.
Grace snatched up the documents and ran to a neighbor’s house, begging the neighbor to hide them for her until she escaped. This act of bravery resulted in a beating that almost ended Grace’s life.
But it also marked a new beginning.
Read more here.
The Strongheart Fellowship Program, a non-profit that gives young people who have been displaced or orphaned by conflict a safe place to heal, a chance to get an education and, hopefully, return to their communities to become leaders. As part of the program, all participants design a product or a service. Grace, along with fellow Strongheart Lovetta, chose to create a piece of jewelry that is part self-expression, part fund-raiser.
For more information on becoming involved with The Strongheart Fellowship Program, contact Beth Anne at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (646) 528-8299.