Devin is a mom and the executive director and co-founder of BeadforLife.
How many children do you have? Nile Hibbard (aka ‘Simmy’) – age five, and Number 2 due in August
What was the Big BeadforLife IDEA? I was in Uganda visiting my mom and step-dad, who is an AIDS doctor and was working there. Along with our dear family friend Ginny Jordan, we were walking in a slum one day visiting people who were HIV+. We saw a woman outside a small hut who had strips of colorful paper, and stopped to talk to her. She was rolling the paper into small colorful beads, and then stringing them into beautiful necklaces. She explained that she and others in the community had fled a horrible conflict in Northern Uganda, and had settled her, but had few economic options. They had learned to roll beads, but had no markets. Instead, they worked at a rock quarry, sitting in the blazing sun all day long, crushing rocks into pebbles by hand twelve hours a day. For this they earned about 80 cents a day.
We were shocked at her story, and wanted to help, so each of us purchased a few necklaces. As we wore them the next few days, people commented again and again. Finally we realized that there must be markets, and perhaps we could help. We went back to the community and purchased several hundred items from over 100 women amid singing and dancing. When we showed our friends in the United States the paper jewelry, we found that they liked the beads and loved the story of hard working women trying to support their families. BeadforLife was born with those first beads, and we haven’t looked back since.
What’s your favorite parenting tip? Treat your child like a person, not just a kid. We always try to take the time to explain what we are doing and why to our son. When he hit the “why” stage, I would always try to give him an honest answer as to why I wanted him to do something. I figured if I couldn’t come up with a reasonable explanation as to why, then perhaps it wasn’t a reasonable request.
How do you get your family to eat healthy food and/or exercise? As a vegetarian, we focus a lot on making sure we get the right kind of food to be healthy. I’m lucky that my son is a pretty adventurous eater, but it is sometimes a struggle to get enough protein in his diet. We are allowing my son to make a decision if he wants to eat meat when it is available, but so far he has pretty much stuck to a vegetarian diet. One rule we have is that he has to eat enough “grow food” before he has any snacks or sweets.
How do you recharge your batteries? When we lived in Uganda, it was always so inspiring to sit with the women we work with and hear their stories of overcoming hardships. So many have lived through violent conflict, deaths of children or abuse, that it gives me perspectives on the issues I struggle with. Here in the states, I love to go for a walk with my husband and son and just appreciate the beauty of the natural world.