We trek back into the village where cars can’t go.  The roads are muddy from the last burst of rain but the sun is out and steam rises up as we come upon shacks that are homes to a small group of neighbors.  Most aren’t as big or as sturdy as my back yard shed where I keep my gardening supplies.   

Dolores comes out of her home and greets me warmly and welcomes me inside.  Three of her six kids are inside as well, one with special needs.  Dolores has been a widow for a long time, raising and providing for her family on her own.  They have each joined her in her handicraft business that has put food on their table. She immediately presents me with a wooden cross her son has carved and she has stained and written on.  She expresses her gratitude over and over for the business Elevāt has given her over the past 3 years.  I am incredibly humbled by her graciousness. 

It is a joy to see the new items she is now making and purchase as many items as I have money for (actually borrowing money from my son to purchase more).  When I show an interest in a necklace set that there is only one of, she and her daughter immediately start making more for me.  As they work to create more cute little frog necklaces, I look around the neat and tidy room and realize it serves as kitchen, dining room, living room, an artists’ studio and also someone’s bedroom.  Oh Lord I pray, help me get more money back here, help me sell more. 

I can’t help but flash back to my last trip to Belize 6 years ago where I met women like Dolores and wanted so desperately to do something to help their poverty, feeling hopeless.  But this trip, I walked out of her home overwhelmed with a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment knowing I was doing exactly what I was called to do.  And hope I can keep on doing it for a long time to come. 

Elevat Founder, Julie Johnson and Dolores in her home