Thursday, August 21

Wrap Up Africa*

Rita (program administrator) & Letha (Founder) in Uganda, photo by Tilly Temperly

I've known my dear friend Letha since 5th grade. When I look back on our colorful history together as friends, I am filled with warmth and pride. We stayed ever so close through Madonna, florescent socks, first kisses, bi-level haircuts, break-ups, broken hearts, moves across the country and the list goes on.

She was a friend in my life that always inspired me to seek within for what I am passionate about. She encouraged me in my quest to remain unique in the choices for my life. At a very young age she was sharing with me how she wanted to somehow make a difference in the world. A huge difference. At that time she wondered if it was working in marine biology. I remember her talking to me about this in her room covered in paintings she had done of dolphins and mermaids and sea life. There was always such a power in her step and her goals...like you had absolutely no doubt she would arrive wherever she dreamed.

She married a very gifted doctor and although at times it felt like his career is what steered their lives, where they lived, how long they stayed...she somehow made those experiences about her dreams as well. She finished art school and her paintings hung in galleries and coffee shops with a long list of commissions. When they had to move back to Seattle, she started her own business selling her clothing designs. As soon as that started picking up, they received the news that they would be moving to Africa. This was a huge dream for her husband who studied international medicine and wanted to be part of discovering a cure for malaria.

The idea of moving to Africa blew her away. She didn't want to just be there as a wife, supporting only his dream, although she was so very supportive of it. She wanted to make a difference in her way, with her gifts and this was her opportunity to figure out a way to save lives along side her husband but with a creative twist.

I write this with tears in my eyes when I see how very hard she has worked this last year. My dear friend Letha amazes me to no end. She has a huge, sensitive heart and seeing so many patients that she has grown to love pass away over and over has taken its toll. It has made her quest to help save lives even greater. Rather than feeling overwhelmed and helpless, she has channeled that energy into creating change.

She founded Wrap Up Africa which is an organization that helps provide jobs through local partnerships where the profits will be funneled back to community support programs through non-profit partners. Wrap Up Africa collaborates with the Uganda Cancer Institute in Kampala, Uganda to help with the growing and often unrecognized needs of the patients.

Letha has designed wrap skirts to fit any body type. She then trains local Ugandans (many of them are parents of cancer patients) to sew the skirts...providing them with a job that not only helps their family live a little more comfortably but helps care for their dear child who has cancer (see photos of this here). She gets so much joy out of seeing these parents feel as though they have a sense of purpose now because sitting around and waiting was just too painful.

Wrap Up Africa also supports education, nutrition, therapeutic art and play and other basic needs of the patients.

If you want to help support her cause, do check out her Etsy shop...knowing that if you purchase a skirt, you are helping to save lives. So powerful. So real. So important.

I feel so blessed that she chose Boho Boy and I to do the website design. It provided us with a close-up to all that is unfolding over there because until then, it all felt so far away.

I want to go back in time to that moment when we were curled up on her bed in high school and she was passionately declaring her dream to help save the world. I want to go back there and hug her tightly, gently grab her face and say, "you did it honey...you did it."

As challenging as it is to live in Uganda, she has fallen in love with the people and landscapes. Her son has adjusted to the local school and her husband is where he has always felt he belonged.

I'm so proud to be her friend.


Blogger Unknown said...

This is so amazing and touching. What a terrific thing her family is doing! I checked out the skirts and I LOVE them! I just need to round up the dough to get one! They are VERY cute.

August 21, 2008 at 11:28:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

She does seem to be a friend to be proud of. She did do it. I'm going to her etsy shop, now! I don't wear skirts, but I'm down for the cause! :-)

August 21, 2008 at 11:41:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Judy / IslandBroad said...

Your dedication to your friend is absolutely breathtaking. I feel the love and pride you have for her in your post. Kudos to you and your friend. Take care & be safe.

August 21, 2008 at 12:27:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Eileen W. said...

A beautiful tribute to a wonderful friend. I love that she utilized her gifts to spread hope. This is a very admirable cause. I am glad to learn about it and I may be buying a friend of mine a skirt soon. :)

August 21, 2008 at 1:33:00 PM PDT  
Blogger jen said...

What a lovely tribute to your friend! I am probably going to get insulted for saying so, but I wonder if you could suggest to your friend that the price of the skirt is lowered to $50 or $60. I imagine there would still be quite a lot of profit, and those of us who would like to support such a noble cause could do so more readily. I am only suggesting this because I think she might sell significantly more by doing so. Just a thought! I wish her and her family health and blessings.

August 21, 2008 at 3:58:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Stacy said...

This is so incredible and amazing, Letha is really honoring her calling and the website is beautiful.

Jen, I am not out to attack you about your asking her to lower the price of the skirts, but rather shift your perspective.

I am not normally one to spend that kind of money on a skirt either, but to quote Gina, "I am down for the cause."

The bigger picture here is literally saving lives and reaching out to others and paying it forward and I can't wait to wear one of these adorable skirts as a symbol knowing I helped in a teeny tiny way.

I am not rich, yet I live in a town where I can easily spend that much on one meal. As someone who is s l o w l y learning to let money ebb and flow in and out of my life and not attach so much fear to it, it's a small price to pay to support something like this.


August 21, 2008 at 4:57:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i remember reading stories on your blog about your friend Letha before she left for Africa. thank you for this lovely update on her adventures. friends who celebrate their friends are such a gift. it sounds as if she and her family are doing wonderful work. those skirts are gorgeous.

August 21, 2008 at 6:17:00 PM PDT  
Blogger jen said...

amazing cause and an amazing friend you have...
i added the button onto my blog, but it isn't linked to the website... maybe it is just wordpress.com.. but i wanted to let you know..

August 21, 2008 at 8:03:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What an amazing friend. I love reading about these kind of friendships, in fact, I too wrote about a close friend yesterday too. Love is in the air concerning friendships I think :-)

August 21, 2008 at 11:39:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Swirly said...

This is such an inspiring story and I am so grateful to you that you got my involved and introduced to Letha.

August 22, 2008 at 7:09:00 AM PDT  
Blogger changapeluda said...

boho girl! you are sucha cool chick it would follow that you have cool friends! speaking from a lil bit of experience; her webdesign couldn't have been in more capabley intuitive hands....

also bi-level haircut?!? i had one of those too, and isn't that just a nice way of sayin mullet??


August 23, 2008 at 7:29:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Alessandra Cave said...

This is so awesome, Boho! Beautiful website! And I am so happy to have news from Letha too! The pretty skirts & the heart of the project are such an inspiring combo! ~ xo

August 24, 2008 at 3:33:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Maria said...

Wow! Every time I visit your blog I feel like a fairy has sprinkled fairy dust on me so I can fly. Your blog is incredible! It's so inspirational and so real and filled with an abundance of love and kindness and joy.

Thank you boho girl. Thank you for being the person you are and sharing with me and pieces of your life.

You inspire me to spread my wings and fly!

All the best for you and boho boy always!

Thank you...

August 25, 2008 at 6:30:00 PM PDT  
Blogger meghan said...

She is AMAZING - I feel so lucky to know her!! (And I can't wait for my skirt!!!)

August 28, 2008 at 12:45:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Admin said...

Letha is incredible. Great job on the web site, too!

September 1, 2008 at 12:11:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Sarah said...

I've only known Letha for a few months and I have to say....I'm kind of jealous that you've known her for so long!! She is a great friend!

March 13, 2009 at 4:40:00 AM PDT  

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