Will Gizmoing take over the world? Probably not but I am pleased to share with you that there are a number of Gizmos in England, one in Iceland, one in Singapore, one in Japan and one in Burkina Faso Africa. Others may have gotten to the far corners without my knowledge. The one in Africa is part of a story that is very moving for me. My good friend Darrel Mast spent three years as a Mennonite volunteer along with his family working at a television station in Burkina Faso. He is the one that produced my Beads and Beyond video. I do hang around a lot of Mennonites, as there have been about 500 years of Mennonites in my family lineage. I don't know if there will be a great demand to know who these Mennonite creatures are. If there is I can always add to the site.
In 1998 I sent Darrel a Gizmo to take with him to Africa. When he left Africa in June of 1999, he asked what he should do with it. I told him to find someone to give it to. He chose a halfway house that was started by French Mennonites. Upon release from prison, these men spend some time here before they go back to society. Their families generally shun them. Darrel has reported that they have been trying to make jewelry and sell it on the streets.
Darrel, by choosing this halfway house as the home for this Gizmo, knew where my passions lay. I spent four years from 1968-1972 teaching at Oregon's school for delinquent boys. It was during my last year there that I was introduced to torch glassblowing by one of the students. In 1972 I quit teaching and became a full time glassblower. Twelve years later I helped start a program here in Portland, Oregon called Victim Offender Reconciliation Program. We take offenders and bring them together with their victims for face to face meeting with a mediator. We have stories of unbelievable things happening for both the victims and the offenders. I am still on the Board of Directors of this program. It is now called Resolutions Northwest. We are one of the busiest programs of this type in the country.
The day that Darrel e-mailed me from Africa to tell me where this Gizmo was now located, shivers went up my spine when I read his message. I began to weep. I had never imagined that ex-offenders in Africa might some day use an invention that was given to me in my tinkering moments. It was too powerful of a thought. I have no idea what I did the rest of the day but I know that I couldn't focus on any productive work.