Elly and Waddington Raisi won’t be in town for Christmas this year. Along with their two young daughters, the family will spend the holiday in Zimbabwe where Waddie grew up and where the couple met. They will reunite with family members and touch base with Zimboarts Coop, their enterprise that provides training and permanent work opportunities for Zimbabwean women struggling to raise their families.
I was fortunate enough to meet this couple, now residents of Fort Collins, in the course of doing a story for North Forty News. Every year about this time, I have a moment when the holiday spirit hits. The Raisis did it for me this year.
Zimboarts Coop is thriving and all profits from the sale of their beautiful beadwork go to supporting their training/work center in Zimbabwe. The women they serve receive free day care, two meals, and $10 a day while they learn beadwork, traditionally done only by men in Zimbabwe. There’s an after school sports program for kids as well.
In Fort Collins, Waddie owns and operates Hollywood Lawn Service and Elly concentrates on marketing and selling beadwork made by the women at local craft fairs.
Elly is a Fort Collins native who traveled the world seeking adventure until she met Waddie in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. He grew up poor and learned the art of beadworking so well that he was able to support himself well. He helped Elly out when she experienced a currency crisis while on her travels and that small interaction changed both of their lives. Their common commitment to make the world a better place in whatever small way they can binds this couple together. They function as if it were Christmas all year long.
Photos: Waddie and Elly pose in their showroom. Waddie showing the parrot he created. In the background, a poster shows the women at work in Zimbabwe.