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What does hope look like?

by Abi Hewitt

What does hope look like?

Frannie Kieschnick is an activist, priest and friend to Thistle Farms. She has been an integral part of Thistle Farms Global team since its inception. She understands the deep connections between individual women that carry the common story of violence, poverty and human trafficking. Recently Frannie said,

"Thistle Farms has a proven track record of initiating and accelerating social enterprises.  When Thistle Farms offers its experience and its powerful community to a vulnerable group of new entrepreneur women survivors, you can be assured hope will rise.”  

We have asked her to explain what that hope looked like rising in the midst of the refugee camp where Frannie helped launch one of our newest projects Love Welcomes.

Hope is Hiva’s broader, bigger smile when she was  able to get the dental work she desperately needed to relieve her of debilitating pain.

Hope is women bent over strips of life vests looking up with pride and relief at their children who endured so much for ones so young, beading friendship bracelets together and laughing.

Hope is the circle of women weavers arm in arm, displaying their mats, holding thumbs up and beaming proudly straight at the camera in contrast to that same same circle months before telling us to blur their faces and avoid including their legs in the photo.

Hope is the difference between the first mats that women wove by themselves and the intricately woven, richly colorful mats they are producing now.

Hope is the income from mats providing funds for each woman, and money to support the needs of their community. The weavers have control of that money and decided together to use that money for the buses now available for refugees to get to the closest town.

Hope is the independence provided by that income. But that income also provides a sense of pride, purpose, and dignity. Whether weaving  supports them in their new home, or whether weaving demonstrates to them that they can learn something new, it gives them hope which is their strength for the journey.

Hope is what is released at the door, or the sink, or on the table of each and every person across the globe who purchases a mat and spreads it out.

As the song says,

All we need, all we need is hope

And for that we have each other

And for that we have each other

We will rise

We will rise

We'll rise, oh oh

We'll rise

I'll rise up

Rise like the day

I'll rise up

In spite of the ache

I will rise a thousands times again

We can rise up by putting down a welcome mat. Hope looks like that.

-Rev. Frannie Kieschnick

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