The members of Girl Scout Troop 459 sat mesmerized, their attention riveted on objects a world away from their small meeting room in the Carver Center, according to a recent article.
“As the girls observed works crafted by artisans in countries such as Cameroon, Chile, the Philippines, Kenya, and Indonesia, their eyes sparkled with excitement and 17 young pairs of hands moved restlessly in laps, obviously yearning to reach out and touch the curious objects,” said writer Susan Brandenburg.
“The girls will use clay to create their own unique works of art,” said troop leader Cindy Persico, “and much like the artisans in faraway places they will then place their creations for sale on consignment in Lori (Armstrong’s store, A World Away), and, after paying expenses such as a portion of the cost of the clay and a small percentage to the store, they will reap the profits for themselves.”
Armstrong demonstrated such items as a tiny clay bird whistle fashioned by hand in the Congo, an onyx frog from Pakistan, a three-legged clay good luck pig made in Chile, and hot pad woven from recycled newspaper in the Philippines, a casa basket from Bangladesh, and a djeme drum from Kenya, says Brandenburg.
One of 140 partner stores in Ten Thousand Villages, a non-profit program of the North American Mennonite and Brethren in Christ churches, Armstrong’s A World Away in Atlantic Beach, FL is a reflection of her personal conviction on humanity, according to Brandenburg.
“There is a woman in face behind each of these pieces of art,” Armstrong told the girls. “There is a woman in Kenya who sculpted this head of an African child.”
As she says this, she passes around an exquisite sculpture that elicited “oohs” and “aahs” from the group, as reported by Brandenburg.
At a mention of school, a few of the girls giggled, she stated.
“School is a privilege we all have in America,” Armstrong said, “but there are children in many countries around the world who are not as lucky as we are.”
The girls of Troop 459 do consider themselves lucky, wrote Brandenburg.
“We ate s’mores and slept in tents,” said Felicia “FiFi” Williams, 12 in a recent interview, “and we looked through telescopes.”
Kiara Watts, Brianna Thornton, 10, Rebecca Williams, 10, and Karla Williams, 5, start creating with clay as photographer Gary Wilcox snaps a picture.
“Working with the troops is the highlight of my week,” Persico said. “In October 2004 I decided to seek hands-on volunteering and I contacted the Girl Scouts to see if I could help with a troop.”
As the grand finale of Armstrong’s presentation, a spirited rum and rattle session ended, the girls donned their art aprons and, with instruction from Carver Center counselor Adrienne Veatch, dug their hands in clay to being their entrepreneurial project, writes Brandenburg.
“I’m going to make a mask,” said Shamara Scruggs, 9, in the article.
“I’m making a person with braids,” said Nycole Rice, 10.
“A turtle!” declared Yasmine Lanier, 9.
Seven-year-old Trionna Lane decided to create a pitcher, while ten-year-old Brianna Thornton and Stacie Williams agreed they would both make clay hearts, reported Brandenburg.
For ten-year-old Rebecca, the acknowledged artist of the group, this was just another step toward her goal.