I remember years by events. When I hear a specific year, it will often trigger a significant event or moment.
In "1992" I was 16 and spent the summer in the Mediterranean country of Malta. I was finally old enough to drive and to date (by my parent's rules). My world was friends, fashion and fun.
When I hear "1996" I immediately think of my wedding. That was also the year I graduated college, lived on my own in an apartment in Toronto, and stood up in several friend's weddings. A year of celebration and independence.
In "2002" I think of becoming a mother for the first time. This was a year of firsts and anticipation. Mark and I purchased our first home, he finally graduated university and started working, we were involved with planting a church, and we entered parenthood. Everything was new and exciting.
They are like chapter markers in my life, marking the key points in the story of my life I want to remember.
When we were in Uganda last month, we met with a new group of women who we will be supporting through purchasing their STUNNING designs that are shipping today!! I did not have the time I needed to sit with them each and hear their stories. My incredible friend Ketty has been doing this for me and writing out their stories to share with me. This last week I have been spending time reading through these stories, and it has definitely left me shaken - as it should.
And again it was the years that stuck out and hit me.
In 1992, while my sweet 16 year was full of "friends, fashion and fun" .... on the other side of the world, Catherine was also 16. That was the year Catherine was abducted by the LRA, Kony's army, and forced to become a child soldier. Her 1992 was full of fear, and hardships.
In 1996, it was a year of celebration and independence for me. In Uganda, it was exactly the opposite for little Grace. She was only a young child of 8 years old when she was abducted by the LRA. She spent the next 8 years of her life as a child soldier against her will before she escaped. The same amount of years she had known as a child outside of the LRA - she spent in the LRA. While I was celebrating my independence - Grace was losing hers.
In 2002, everything in my life was new and exciting and it was a time of joyful anticipation. For Margaret - it was also a time of change as she finally escaped from the LRA. As I entered into motherhood that year, Margaret (who is younger than me) was already a mother of 4. During her years with the LRA, she had had four children in the bush - one who died while she was there. She is not even sure what exactly his illness was as there was no medical care. Leaving the LRA was a new start - but also a difficult one as she came home with children to care for, had contracted HIV, and was carrying the baggage of hurts and scars.
The same years have completely different chapter markers for me, as they do for my sisters in Uganda. And as I look back now at those years, I feel mostly baffled how this was going on in the same world that I lived, breathed and slept and I had no idea. In 1992 my world was boys, clothes and friends. Not guns, searching for food and war.
As I move forward, I can not change my past or theirs - but we look to the future. I look to raise my voice and also my children to speak out for injustice in our world. To know what is happening locally and abroad. To be less self centered, and more aware of those who need care. To love those near and far generously.
There is one more date - one more chapter marker that sticks out when I hear it.
This is the year our stories intersected. I met this particular group of women for the first time. They are a group of 35 women who are desperate to improve their lives and their children's lives - but could only offer the work of their hands. I can not make their incredible creations, but I can offer to share and sell them and in doing so, raise awareness and funds for them. It is a year of new bonds - Sisterhood. Partners. Friends.
I can not wait for their new products to arrive in the next week or two and share them with you!
Krista is married to her college sweetheart, Mark and they have two daughters - Madison and Eden. When Krista isn't working at JustOne she can be found behind the camera at Edison Photography. It was her photography that first lead Krista to Africa in June 2012. Later that same year Krista founded JustOne.