Thursday, June 18, 2015

Family Ties

Thistle Farms' new Rose Geranium Insect Repellent does more than just ward off mosquitos and bugs. The product unites the Thistle Farmers of Nashville and the Ikirezi Farmers of Rwanda under a common goal: Transforming the lives of women all around the world. The women of Ikirezi harvest essential Geranium oil, and the women of Magdalene combine it with other ingredients to create the finished product. This partnership was the product of Rev. Becca Stevens’ Shared Trade initiative to promote economic freedom for women worldwide.

This summer, Thistle Farms has taken the cross-continental partnership to a new level in welcoming Joseph Mugisha as a volunteer. Joseph’s father, Nicholas Hitimana, founded Ikarezi as a way to encourage recovery among women affected by the devastating Rwandan genocide. Joseph says, “The women at Ikirezi have lost husbands and struggle to provide for themselves. In a sense, this is similar to the women of Magdalene.” Joseph is spending several weeks in Nashville, working alongside the women of Magdalene to produce the Rose Geranium Insect Repellent with the oil from his father’s cooperative.
Having spent time with women from both organizations, Joseph has realized that there is a universal story that the women share.  “There’s a sense of familiarity for me despite the language and cultural differences between the women here and the women in Rwanda. They both have faced great hardships, but they both have a really immense love for each other and the people around them. In that sense I think that Love is something that is cross cultural.”

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Congratulations Class of 2015!

On Friday, May 29th, in St. Bartholomew’s chapel, nine women graduated from Thistle Farms’ two-year Residential Program. Together, these women share eighteen years of healing in community and over 18 years clean and free from addiction.

Their accomplishments were celebrated while dancing down the church’s aisle and commemorated in reflections for each graduate by Donna Grayer, Director of the Residential Program. One of the many highlights of the ceremony was Katrina Robertson’s words for the graduates. Facing each graduate and speaking from her own experience, Katrina gave the following address:

This has been a long time coming. You did it. You finished a two-year program with rules. When I graduated, other people had their own reasons they were happy for me, but all I could think about is how,

for the first time in my life, I finally finished something.

Ms. Donna used to always remind us we were in a two-year program with rules. I thought she was doing that just to have control over us, and it worked. But what she was really telling us was that if we could complete this program, then maybe, just maybe, we would be ready for the big world that has a lot of rules to follow. If you make good choices and decision in this world, then there will be good consequences and outcomes; and if you make bad choices and decisions, you will get bad consequences and outcomes back.

Hold out your hands. Now that you have finished the program and are moving into your own places and your own homes, your destinies are not in Ms. Donna’s hands, not in Regina’s hands, and not in Holli’s hands.

Your destinies are in your own hands.

So set goals, dream big, and if you fall, get back up. I am so proud of you, and you have a whole community of people that are proud of you and will be with you no matter what adversity you face.

Last Friday was an illustration that not all accomplishments are created equal, and some battles are harder fought than the rest. These nine women, with outstretched arms, represent years of commitment, sacrifice, hope, healing, and the unconditional support of a community. Thank you to all of you who have and who will continue to stand in the Circle with the community of Thistle Farms, and a very special thanks to the Women of St. Bartholomew's who lavished the graduates and all of Thistle Farms with hospitality and love!

Love Heals.