In the 1970's our cousin, Skip was a Jesuit brother working in Africa. His mission was a village in Zambia. This village was very poor and the needs of the people great.
Once when Skip was home for a visit we asked what we could do to help. He shared his dream with us and we were thrilled to join in the that dream. The "Mud Hut Project" started at that time. The people of this village lived in mud huts, very unsafe, unsanitary, and very fragile (the huts had to be rebuilt after every substantial rain). It would have been easy for us to give and collect money for this, but Skip wanted the people to feel a part of the project and contribute to making it happen. He suggested a clothing drive. They could sell the clothes and use the money to buy bricks and build new homes.
So we collected clothing. I am not talking cleaning our closets and asking friends and neighbors to do the same - no... this collecting was on a grand scale. We collected, crated, and shipped tons of clothing. Skip and the people of this village worked very hard, sold the clothes, got the bricks and built the houses.
To thank us, the next time Skip came home, he brought us gifts from his African friends... lots of ivory beads, ivory carvings, and batiks. Skip said the ivory was very old - had been in that village for generation. These gifts were shared with many of our friends who worked so hard to make Skip's dream for these people a reality.
Skip had to leave Africa due to malaria - episodes were coming more frequently adn harshly adn his health was in danger.
He went to work in a homeless men's shelter in downtown Los Angeles. He once told me he saw more sadness, hopelessness, cruelty and sickness there that he ever saw in Africa.
Judy asked me to create something with the ivory...
.... I made her a beautiful chaplet with a handcast vintage crucifix.