Monday, December 27, 2010

Inspiring (Almost) Women - Liberian Edition

Sure, I bitch and snark a lot around here (it's a gift), but I do find great beauty and inspiration in my fellow human beings. Today, I'd like to introduce you to Lovetta Conto.

She is 17 years old, a survivor of the Liberian Civil War and an inspiration. Just the fact that she could smile like that after living through a war is inspiring, but it's what she's doing with the artifacts of that war that I'd like to highlight: she's turning bullets into beautiful jewelry.

At first my dream was to be a lawyer because I thought that was what would make my father proud. I had no idea what to do for my project related to law. Nothing seemed right. I wanted to make my father proud but something in me pulled me to fashion and design. No matter how down the women in the refugee camp were, they always found a way to express themselves with beautiful jewelry and clothes they made from what they had. I was so scared to admit to my father, to Strongheart and to myself that my true passion was not law but design.

Some people may say, “Why should a girl who comes from a place where people struggle to get food care about fashion or jewelry?” But I believe that your spirit wants beauty no matter your conditions. Even something as ugly as a bullet that was fired in a war can be made beautiful if you are willing to work to change it into something else.

That's amazing. She looks at an instrument of death and sees the possibility of beauty. I could never do that, but I can wear that necklace (thank you, Marzie!) and remember that there are people in this world whose very existence makes it a better place for us all.

1 comment:

  1. this reminds me...

    years and years ago, during one of my "extended vacations" in a hospital, i became friends with a girl who had a cancer-of-the-blood [i remember being yelled at that it wasn't leukemia].
    her family, like mine, was dirt poor. she was one of the other patients who did commercials in exchange for medical care [there were 5 or 6 of us, we had to APPLY and prove we were poor enough for it. i can just imagine some kid who's parents made a whole $50 a year more than mine being denied the help...]

    anyway, there STILL wasn't enough, after the commercials, to cover everything.

    her mom was a jewelery maker of some sort that didn't make a lot of money.
    but she started making jewelery out of medical equipement that had been used on her daughter - mostly tubes and such. awesome stuff - somewhere, i have a bracelet that she made, out of old IV tubes of both of ours [it was free, of course - she made one for each of us]

    anyway, she made enough from the jewlery to at least KEEP L in the hospital for a while longer. and to pay for some new treatment.[this was a big, big scandel at the time. i remember how she'd fight with the staff - they wanted her to sign custody of her daughter over to the state, and let the state handle all the affairs - but she refused. as she went bankrupt, sold her house, her car, antiques, everything, the hospital kept harping on her. even the best, most innovative treatments had less than .1% chance of saving my friend's life; the hospital would argue that all her mother was doing was "extending her suffering and wasting money and resources". and her mother would say "until my daughter tells me that SHE doesn't want to fight anymore, i will fight. yes, she's in agony, and yes, it kills me that she's in agony. but it's WHAT SHE WANTS. so long as she as hope, i'll fight. i'll fight until *I* die, if i have to. i'll do anything, at all, to give my daughter what she wants - i'll sell my possessions, my house, my *BODY* - i can't give her any of the things i wanted to - she won't go to Harvard, she won't walk down the aisle, she won't get to know the joy of holding her new baby - i can't give her all the things i want for her. but i CAN give her this; the chance to fight as long as SHE wants to fight. screw the state, screw the money, and screw you. if you don't want to treat my daughter, i'll go someplace else. but i WILL keep her in treatment until the day she says to stop"]

    it's not so much that something is now beautiful, or even that something originally intended to cause harm is now beautiful [and even then - bullets are, if one takes away their intended purpose, actually fairly pretty all on their own].
    it's the whole "overcoming adversity" aspect that's important [at least, IMO]

    as in, the amazing thing isn't that she made beautiful jewelery - the amazing thing is that, after living in hell [at least the 5th level] for a large portion of her childhood, she was able to WANT to do something for other people. and she was able to WANT make something beautiful.
    just like my friend's mother was able, after years of watching her daughter die, by stages, in one of the most excruciating ways possible, to BELIEVE her daughter, trust her daughter, and was able to WANT to help her daughter, to keep her daughter, and love her despite the pain that loving her inflincted.
    if this makes any sense... it's saying "there is hell, i'm THERE - but just because there is hell, doesn't mean that there isn't joy, and love, and beauty".


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