Travel: Rio De Janeiro – Day 21

The Amy Clarke is finally here to teach our students all her secrets about makeup. A few of the girls have been so excited for the makeup classes to start. Two of them have asked me every week, “We are still learning makeup, right?” Well, now I see why! These girls have such a natural talent for makeup. It been so incredible to see them work.

We have had some of the biggest donations this trip. From flat irons, to combs, to brushed, and now makeup. Some of the biggest names in professional makeup doanted to our program for our students to have the opportunity for success. I hope they all know how much it has meant to our girls. I think they are still completely overwhelmed by the generosity of strangers.

It has been the most amazing experience to watch their determination. It has been so moving to hear about what motivated them. Family. Friends. Children. Husbands. The desire for a better life. My prayer for them is to always hold on to the things that motivate them.

 

 

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Travel: Rio De Janeiro – Day 16

Today was bittersweet. It was Melissa’s last day, we had an incredible self-esteem building activity, and we had a Brazilian vegan fruit feast! Now, a vegan feast might not sound that exciting to you, but to Miss Melissa Lingo, the sexiest vegan in America, it was a slice of heaven.

We reprized an activity from our last project here in Brazil where each of us had a paper taped to our backs and everyone had to anonymously write encouraging and postive things to each other. It was amazing to see how these girls love and repect one another. They called each other beautiful, strong, corageous, mother, warrior, and the list goes on. Each of them has a story and everyone had the right words for each other. When we were finished writing, all of them read their own papers out loud. So many of the girls had no idea that their classmates felt this way about them.

One of our students, Graça missed the first part of class. So, we had all the girls write on her paper before she got there. When she got there we were all singing with the Ukelelady herself and having so much fun. We ended our little “Kumbaya”  with all the girls singing Hallelujah and we all were in tears together. Then it was time for Graça to read her paper. Hers was filled front and back with beautiful words of encouragement and love. Overwhelmed with emotion, another student read hers aloud. She was so moved by the beautiful things her friends had to say about her. She didn’t feel worthy of the compliments her fellow students gave to her.

Graça is our eldest student. At 54 years old, she works very hard to keep up with the class. She says she’ll do whatever it takes to succeed. Whenever she has nothing to do, she finds something to do. Whether it is another students hair, or cleaning, or watching another student work to learn all she can, Graça is truly an example to the girls. We all know her as the classroom mommy and the girls all look to her and respect her. As she broke down while hearing what everyone thought of her, she opened up about what was happening in her life at home. She cares for some of her grandchildren, one of which comes with her to beauty school everyday. She has a grandson with special needs that she cares for and loves him dearly. Graça is under a lot of pressure as a wife, mother, and grandmother to make ends meet. Like most people, she uses humor to mask her hurt, her pain, nad her insecurities. Today was her day to let go and let everything out that she had been holding onto for so long. She said she finally felt safe to share all that she has been dealing with for so long.

Graça truly exemplifies the meaning of her name, filled with Grace. We are all previledged to know her and to call her friend.

Nothing in the world could have prepared me for this. The girls gathered around Graça and prayed for her in her time of need. The support these women give to each other is a beautiful thing to watch. Eu ti amo, Graça….

 

 

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Travel: Rio De Janeiro – Day 13

So much has happened since I have been here! We have gotten to know our students so well and have seen their desire to make a career out of what we are teaching them. I love seing their enthusiasm for learning. We have seen them excell at an incredible pace. Most of them have such a natural talent for doing hair. I have no doubt they will be amazing when the makeup course begins.

We administered their midterm exams on Friday. It consisted of a written test and practical exam. Everyone was so nervous! Everyone would receive a brush for completing the exam, but the grand prize for the top scorer was a GHD flat iron. I don’t know if this made them more nervous or more excited. But either way this out the pressure on!

After the written test we gave them a list of services they needed to do. Some had a haircut, an updo, and a braid. Some had to flat iron, french braid, and curl. None of them knew what combination of service they would get. But I think the worst thing for them was not the test, but keeping quiet! They want so much to help and encourage each other. I don’t think I have seen a group a ladies root for each other the way they do. In the beauty industry in America there is so much back biting and under cutting that seeing them treat each other the way to do is so refreshing.

As I was scoring them, there were 6 that were tied til about half way through. It was such a close race. Finally at the end, there were 3 that stood out. We were only planning on give 1 iron, but their performances were stellar. We just couldn’t pick one out of them. One of the ladies who won is 7 months pregnant and had a prenatal appointment during the midterm. She didn’t want to miss the test, so she rescheduled her appointment to the morning and rushed back in 90′ weather just so she wouldn’t be late.

That is just one example of how dedicated these women are to the program. There is story after story of their motivation, all steming from wanting to provide for their families. It is such a beautiful thing to see.

I am so excited to begin our week after a successful midterm.

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Travel: Rio De Janeiro – Day 4

Pop quiz today…. and each girl who gets a correct answer gets lipstick that was donated by radiant cosmetics, a makeup company that gives makeup to survivors of human trafficking. Radiant very generously donated makeup to all the girls in our class so they can learn makeup and begin building a makeup kit. Amy Clarke will be The Trade’s first makeup artist that will travel to teach women in our program how to do makeup. And after today, the girls can’t wait to learn from her!

Thank you so much Radiant for giving to our students. It means the world to them!

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Travel: Rio De Janeiro – Day 3

Today was we had a braiding test and the ladies were so nervous. They came in focused and ready to go.

We had the girls go up in groups of 4 and they were graded on speed, accuracy, overall apperance, and attitude. So, many girls made up for their speed with a great attitude. They didn’t give up and even started over if they felt the style wasn’t up to par.

The best part (and the worst part) was keeping the rest of the class quiet while the team that was up was testing. The other ladies were trying to help them knowing we couldn’t understand what they were saying. Luckily, we have the best 2 translators ever who ratted them out and told us they were helping them. As much as we needed to be the authoritative figures and tell them not to cheat, it was so wonderful to see them cheer each other on. They truly want to see their sisters and friends succeed.

After the scores were tallied, 1 girl scored 19 out of 2o, and 4 girls scored 18 out of 20. The rest have more practice to do, but they all know and understand that practice makes perfect. The winner each received a paddle brush and everyone received a comb donated from hair hookups for their hard work. By completing all their tests and quizzes, they will be able to begin building their kits to do hair on their own. We have lots more to treat the girls to to help them move along in their new career.

Tomorrow, the girls will be extra excited to receive the surprise after their pop quiz…

One of our translators, Michel, even wanted to compete!!

In other news, Melissa and I got to see two of our faves from the last course we taught in Brazil in  the fall of 2011. Elisama and Michely inspired each of us in different ways. They are both resiliant women with knowledge beyond their years. Melissa and I are so thankful that they are in our lives. Their stories have even inspired our friends and familes back at home. A friend of mine, Carley, was so moved by Elisama’s story that she painted her a portrait and googled translated a message to her. Elisama was so overwhelmed and thankful that someone on the other side of the world was touched by her.

Eu ti amo meninas…

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