Luzmila was born and raised in Colombia, South America. She came to the US in 2002 to get married. She arrived during the winter and had never experienced the arctic blasts that hit her during her first St. Louis winter! Another surprise was the huge difference in poverty. In Colombia, a person will see more extreme forms of poverty because there are far less employment opportunities and less help from social agencies that you find here, “the land of opportunities."
One thing that really fascinates Luzmila about the US is how passionate people are about politics and how influential it is in daily life. Here she can clearly see the ideological differences between the political parties more than in her home country. Peace in Colombia has been a difficult goal to achieve due to drug trafficking and political violence which has had a negative impact on the economy. Thankfully, in the last decade the situation has improved for the country as a whole.
Currently, Luzmila is a medical technologist at Saint Louis Children's Hospital. A few years ago, a friend from church shared about Forai with Luzmila and her reply was immediately positive, “the concept of Forai really touched my heart because they teach skills and provide immigrant and refugee women the materials and tools to create clothing and jewelry to make extra money to help their families. The more I participated and learned about FORAI, the more I fell in love with the organization and I became committed to helping it succeed.” We are grateful to have Luzmila on the jewelry team as both a Forai artisan and a volunteer mentor, helping other jewelry artisans.