About lindsay

Lindsay Shores is the Youth Services Coordinator at Hope Place. She loves Jesus, her family, and her neighborhood.

Amina’s Story

As a child, Amina Saidi* was just one of many young girls who herded their family’s goats around the countryside of Somalia, at least until she was sent to Mogadishu to live in her uncle’s home and attend school.  Amina worked hard at her education and was in the seventh grade when she learned that her father had died. Her step-mother quickly remarried, leaving Amina and her four teenage siblings to care for themselves. By this time, her father had left his nomadic lifestyle and settled in a village near the Shebelle River to farm.  Before his death, he had been a wealthy man and the children were able to continue working the farm and providing for their needs. “We didn’t have a father or mother, but we were happy and we did a good job cooking, cleaning, gathering wood…,” she explains.

Abdi Mohammed* was 21 years older than Amina when they married.  She knew that she needed a husband to provide for her, and Abdi Mohammed, an Army General, seemed advantageous.  He was also well-connected, as his brother was married into the notorious Somali President Siad Barre’s family in a nation where family is everything.  Amina moved back to Mogadishu, this time into a home of her own and the two lived an affluent life together. Still, she felt like an outsider, and when the sound of gunfire signaling Somalia’s civil war reached her neighborhood, her husband ran away in fear, leaving his pregnant wife with their seven children and an adolescent nephew.  

For fourteen days, Amina and the children remained huddled in the house while gunfire exploded around them.  “Once, we were eating our meal and a bullet came in and landed in our food. I said, ‘God, help me!’” Every day, she would feed an increasing number of people one meal of “a little meat and a lot of rice,” she says.  Tanks would come by and fire on houses, but their home and the inhabitants remained, so she would say, “Today, praise God, life.”

One day, she and the children decided to escape to her childhood farm and for miles they walked.  Her thirteen-year-old daughter carried the two-year-old along, as expectant-mother Amina navigated the way.   They paid a tractor pulling a flatbed trailer to carry them the rest of the way. Eventually, the family made their way to Kenya.

When Amina’s sister in America decided to sponsor the family’s immigration, they traveled across the Atlantic to Virginia.  Her early days here were hard. Only eleven days after arriving, her husband, who had reunited with them, died from lung cancer and pneumonia in a hospital. Overwhelmed, she would often go into the bathroom, weep for a while, and then come out determined to be strong for her children.  “I didn’t know the language, didn’t have money, didn’t know where to go to get help. No one was helping then. I didn’t even know where the food stamps place was. But it was the church that helped me.” The family stayed in a Volunteers of America family shelter when they had difficulty paying their rent and then moved to Columbus, Ohio when they heard that rent there was more affordable.  

Churches in Columbus kindly invited them to stay for a week at a time and fed them dinner each day.  “The church people were a . . .,” she pauses as she searches for the perfect word before finally exclaiming, “. . . a community!  If they sponsored four families for one week, I thought, the money is not just coming from the [institutional] church, it is coming from the community of the church!  They really helped us. They were the nicest people I’ve ever met.” For the first time, Amina was seeing the church not as a lifeless structure, but as a group of living, breathing, sacrificing people.  “They even helped the kids read stories and played with them. They just kept them company while the parents rested.”

Over the years, Amina was certified to work as a nursing home aid, which she enjoyed doing for many years, and she became an American citizen.  She now a grandmother living in Louisville and her grandson is attending Camp Hope’s Wacky Wednesdays at Hope Place. She is very passionate about education and is hopeful for the youth mentoring and tutoring sessions that are being planned. “The reason I came here is for a better life.  I came here for two things: safety and a better education for my children,” she states. Hope Place wants to help make both of those things a reality.

 

*Names changed

 

By | 2018-11-07T23:48:36+00:00 August 13th, 2018|HopePlace|0 Comments

Piecing Hope Together

One of the goals of Camp Hope’s Wacky Wednesdays last month was to create a lasting work of art–a mosaic–for Hope Place’s reception area.  It was a huge undertaking, however, that quickly became much more than mere art.

For several weeks, I scoured Louisville-area Goodwills and peddlers malls for brightly colored ceramic plates that we could smash into thousands of pieces.  By the third week of camp, we had built a large enough supply that the camp children could each break one. We wrapped the plates in towels, donned protective goggles, and began smashing with abandon.

Confused, a tentative little boy with raised eyebrows asked, “More?”  A little girl begged to break another dish, “Pleeeeeeeease?” she pleaded.  A dad dropping his son off late stared in shock as a kindergartner giddily slung a hammer toward his towel without aim.

That afternoon, I began to outline the design on concrete backer board.  I can now freely admit that I was in over my head. I had never attempted a project this large and I had no idea how much time and material I would actually need.  I formed the shapes of the iconic buildings in my design with small glass tiles in order to keep the lines bold and straight. During week four of camp, the art class began to piece together the sky.  

“There are many things that have happened in our lives that have made us feel like these beautiful plates that have been broken,” we explained.  “Right now, they may seem like useless pieces that serve no purpose, like maybe the pieces should just be thrown into the trash.  But we will soon see how God uses all of our broken pieces to make a beautiful masterpiece.”

Fifth-grader Jonathan learned to use the glass tile cutters.  Phoebe and Fikir glued geometric teal forms to the board. Chrisily delighted in placing a single aqua bead in the growing atmosphere which looked like a fading star.  Still, only a small portion of the 5’x6’ canvas was finished by the close of camp.

In the days that followed, help trickled in each evening.  For several days, we ate pizza and played music and neighborhood kids shared their lives with me while we worked late into the night.   

Hadeel, a local mom, built celadon-hued windows into the exterior of the iconic Galt House.  Malik, Ruby, and Layla glued tiles to the dual red-topped Waterfront Plaza towers. Isaiah, Joseph, Donald, and Yerandy affixed hundreds of irritatingly irregular pieces of pea gravel that, much like them, would not stay put.  Mariam sorted through piles of glass to find the perfect shades of blue for the Ohio River. Hope Place Director Kristy Robison used them to build portions of the shimmering, patterned water.  After his African church service ended on Sunday afternoon, four-year-old Frank firmly held the tiny pieces of a heart in place while the adhesive dried. My husband built and stained a frame.  This truly became a community project as the weeks passed.

The mosaic process itself is a piecing together of many different types and styles of glass, just as our neighborhood is a blend of people from all around the world:  Congo, Ethiopia, Somalia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Iraq, Burundi, Nepal, Cuba, and America, to name just a few.  Each of these cultures contributes to the unique beauty we find here.

I knew at the start that I wanted to make a mosaic of the Louisville skyline and the word HOPE.  Although I had a basic image in mind, it began to take on additional symbolism as we worked. The sunrise signals the hope of a new day.  The Hope Place tree grows along the riverbank. Small strips of mirror create movement and also point back at the viewer who himself becomes a part of the artwork.  And at the bottom, a tiny heart waits anxiously to break out of its stony prison into the hope above. It is buried, yet it hopes.

The grouting process was the hardest for me personally.  Burying what was already a perfectly nice picture beneath messy black sludge is a slightly terrifying process.  In only a few minutes, long hours of tedious work become concealed by a dripping, charcoal-colored mess that stains everything it touches.  All of the children who saw the mosaic during this time thought that I had certainly ruined it. But as I slowly wiped the drying grout away from the tiles, they saw the image being revealed:  the hope of something more glorious than they ever could have imagined back when we began with just a pile of broken shards and sticky mud. How often it looks like all is lost when we are buried in the pain, only to see God make something so much more beautiful out of our situation in the end.  And sometimes we can’t see this until we can step back and appreciate the process from a distance.

The finished mosaic is a piece of art, for sure.  But it has also been a process in growing and cementing relationships, a remedy to fear, a call to courage, and a monument to what God is doing through his people at Hope Place as he builds this diverse community. It was an honor to be able to collaborate on it with so many talented, but unknown local artists–our own campers!

We invite you to come by Hope Place and see where you fit in the picture.

(Thanks to Elevate Dance Ministry for inspiring this idea.)

By | 2018-11-07T23:52:20+00:00 August 13th, 2018|HopePlace|0 Comments
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