I have this friend Kathy from school. Well, to be honest she wash't really a friend of mine, she was THE popular girl. I was the nerdy girl, not because I was clever, more like I was just awkward. I had changed back and forth between Japanese and American schools, and lets just say that my English was very bad… At the same time I went back to American school, in the 6th grade, Kathy also started. She was from California - gorgeous (Asian background), cool and clever. Everyone loved Kathy. You often think back on your school days and wonder what has become of each person. Thanks to Facebook, you now have the chance to actually know what has become of most people! I got back in touch with Kathy a few years ago and was pleasantly surprised with what she was up to. Once becoming a mother, she quit her profession to concentrate on motherhood. While on one of her family holidays in Costa Rica, they happened to rent a house across from the founders of Seeds of Hope. Now she is very involved in this organisation. What is Seeds of Hope? Seeds of Hope is an organisation that helps girls and boys in Costa Rica. Girls as young as 5 years old are being forced into prostitution often by mothers who were also sexually exploited as young girls and now live in poverty with few opportunities. Seeds of Hope has been working to break this cycle by offering opportunities to the young generation. Girls apply to be a part of the jewelry program and trained to make jewelry. In return, their families are given groceries for the week and their utility bills are paid. This program also gives the girls a sense of accomplishment and hope knowing that they are able to provide for their families while learning a potential trade for their future. Here is a quick interview with Kathy: Q: What was your previous profession, before getting involved in Seeds of Hope? I'd been a clinical psychologist with a private practice, staff psychologist at a college counseling center, and an adjunct professor of psychology. After having kids, I transitioned into a full time, stay at home, homeschooling mom. Your blog post about reestablishing your identity after kids resonated with me! Q: In what way are you involved, and do you often go back to Costa Rica to meet with the organisation? How many bracelets do you sell on average? Though I met the founder of Seeds of Hope while we were traveling in Costa Rica, she happens to be from San Diego County (where we live), and we even ended up knowing people in common. Their Executive Director also lives near me so I've been able to maintain regular contact with them. It really feels like our paths were meant to cross. About a year ago, I took over as the person who mails out bracelets ordered via their online store. There aren't too many online orders outside of the holiday season, and therefore, I try to find other avenues to sell their bracelets. For example, I post a plea on Facebook twice a year and am always touched by the many people who purchase bracelets, including some people I haven't seen in over 20+ years, such as my middle school social studies teacher and you! I've sold bracelets at various events and have also held a few yard sales where many friends donated items to be sold, and all the money raised went to Seeds of Hope. Q: Have you seen any positive changes in yourself and your children, after being involved in this program? My kids were with us when we visited one of the Seeds of Hope clubhouses, and they help me raise money and sell bracelets. They understand that some of these young girls had been forced to work with "really mean people who make them feel terrible about themselves." Volunteering with Seeds of Hope is a constant reminder for the kids and I to appreciate what we have, to think of others less fortunate, and to provide help where we can. I am also inspired by the women who run Seeds of Hope and the young girls who are committed to creating a better life for themselves; they are strong, competent, compassionate, spiritual, giving, loving, grounded. They make me want to be a better person. ********** If you want to support this organisation by ordering bracelets, you can order directly from Seeds of Hope (www.seedsofhopehome.com), or Kathy can sell them directly to you at a lower cost ($25 for triple wrap which is either a single strand that wraps around 3x or three rows of beads that wrap around 1x, $10 for a single wrap + $2.50 shipping total per order). She includes a jewelry pouch and an informational card so if you are giving them as gifts the recipient can know about Seeds of Hope and their jewelry program. You can email Kathy on firstname.lastname@example.org Kathy has also written articles mostly on the topic of body image and has a website (www.DrKathyK.com) with lots of information on anxiety and stress management, choosing a psychotherapist, and psychotherapy in general. Are any of you involved in similar charities and organisations?