Together with Samantha McIntosh Jewelry, our Summer 2019 Teen Girl Employment Cohort member, Grace, created two beautiful necklaces that we are proud to have available for purchase.
It has been 5 years since my arrival to the United States as a refugee. It has been 5 years of new challenges, new friends, and new memories. The most important part of my life has been family. Family that is here with me and family that I keep in my heart. The design behind this necklace is in memory of all the family members that are gone. “Nabakumbuka” reads as “I miss you” in my native language, Swahili. The strong memories of those who have passed are rooted in this word. The 3 hearts, hand drawn by 3 people in my life, represent the different ways people miss someone close to them. As you wear this necklace, it is here to remind you of your strengths, your past and people in your life you love. As you wear these hearts next to your own heart, always remember the shared love between you and those you miss. A lesson my grandfather, babu, taught his family is that without unity a family will not grow. A family is connected by love and by keeping the unity strong. We are stronger as a whole than as parts. This necklace is a part of your whole and symbol for those we love and miss.
Our mission at Treetops Collective is to #spreadwelcome. We spread welcome through friendship and kindness and inviting others into our community. We aim each day to grow our circle and recognize we could all use more ‘bandugu’ in our lives. ‘Bandugu’ is a phrase in Swahili and when translated to English means ‘friends like family’. It includes everyone in your circle from extended family members to friends who are family. We designed this necklace in hopes that everyone we cross can be treated like ‘bandugu’. As the necklace is worn, we hope it encourages kindness and creates more inclusivity in a world that seems to have a rhetoric that says and does the opposite.