Serve Trip to Sierra Leone

Reported by Emma Bach

On Saturday, students and faculty from the George Fox University (GFU) art and design department departed on a serve trip to Makeni, Sierra Leone. Those attending include senior McKenzie Young, senior Lillian Carver, and Jillian Sokso, professor of art and design. They are going to West Africa with one goal in mind: to teach women with disabilities the art of papermaking.

The trip is through Women of Hope International, an organization that aims “to promote transformation among people with disabilities in the developing world; especially women.” Young, who wrote a detailed blog post about the serve trip and how it came to be, emphasized the “epidemic” of under-education of women around the world.

“While we aren’t equipped to go and provide primary education to every girl, we can at least bring skills to women that will help them move out of the rut a lack of education has put them in,” Young said.

Fundraising was a major focus before the trip — Sokso, Carver and Young diligently screen-printed posters to sell in order to raise money to support their journey to Sierra Leone. The posters feature different women of color and activists (Maya Angelou, June Jordan, bell hooks and Audre Lorde) and are accompanied by notable quotes from each woman. Young elaborated on the extensive printing process:

“We printed 400 posters in three days. We drank a ton of coffee and ate pizza and got a little delirious, but we wanted it,” Young said. “The thinking behind this project was ‘how can we come alongside our sisters, the women of color we walk alongside, with humility and respect and silence our voices in pursuit of hearing theirs?’ It was an exercise in collaboration between each other and with the women whose quotes we were illustrating.”

In addition to selling their hand-printed posters, Sokso, Carver and Young held paper-making and bookbinding workshops. Students could pay to learn these arts while simultaneously supporting the serve trip.

Carver described the trip as “a wonderful opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus with these women directly” while in Sierra Leone.

“I believe the Lord is asking me to step out in faith and go,” Carver said.

The trip has been highly anticipated and, as stated from Women of Hope International, will “equip the body of Christ” and encourage all “to think Biblically, love inclusively [and] act holistically.”

“I am excited to learn from them,” Young said. “I am excited to meet them and get to know them. I am excited to see their country and to help teach them what I so recently learned myself.”

Jessica DaughertyComment