April Star Davis is following her instinct, her intuition, her gut. The message she is hearing is simple: help women in Africa. And most of all, she is listening to that voice within, and has accomplished what once seemed impossible. Davis, a jewelry designer who's work can be seen on many Hollywood stars and television series such as Melrose Place and Grey's Anatomy, is the founder of Designers 4 Africa, a collaboration of jewelry designers, artists and writers who share the one common goal of helping people. Within only a year's time, Davis has raised enough money through jewelry auctions to team up with Drop in a Bucket, a non -profit committed to bring safe, clean water to Uganda. The money Designers for Africa raised paved the way for a water pump to secure residency in a small Sudanese village, providing drinking water for 1,200 people. Now, that's progress. But there's more to Davis' quest. This California-born mother of one, refugee-resettlement volunteer, and business woman is welding together her compassion, bravery and business sense to aid women in Uganda and the Congo, in helping them establish their own jewelry businesses. And the adventure starts in only a couple of months, when Davis leaves the sunny San Diego sun and her family behind, for four solid weeks of adventure and education in two of the worlds poorest countries.
YOU ARE ALMOST 40 YEARS OLD WITH AN EIGHT YEAR OLD CHILD. WHAT DO YOU SAY TO PEOPLE WHO WANT TO DO WHAT YOU ARE DOING, BUT AREN'T PREPARED?
I'm hoping to encourage people, later in life, that yeah, You are a mom and have a job but you can still do this. If I can do it, anybody can, because it is not like I have any financial golden umbrella.
SPEAKING ABOUT MONEY, YOU SAY THAT YOU COME FROM "POOR ROOTS." TELL ME ABOUT THAT.
I was conceived in a hippie commune. I did come from poor roots, my family still considered lower middle class, poor. And so for me, in a way, and I know that my situation is not like the women in Uganda or the Congo, but I kind of relate. Like having to work; it is not really a choice. You have to do it, but in a way that you can still care for your kids. I feel like it was something that jewelry really gave me. And I'm really grateful for that. In essence, I want to give that gift to somebody else.
AT WHAT POINT DID YOU START THINKING MORE ABOUT HOW YOU CAN REACH OUT TO
THESE WOMEN IN AFRICA?
I started volunteering locally for a refugee resettlement, and that for me was the turning point, because I met a young girl from Liberia named Violet. One day we went to lunch, and it was one of those experiences that you hear about, but you don't really realize it. I took her to the food court in the mall and asked her, "Okay, what do you want?" And the look on her face, she was so overwhelmed...the concept that she even had a choice! So, I started looking at things from her eyes.
WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO ACCOMPLISH DURING YOUR FIRST TRIP TO UGANDA AND THE
In Uganda I my focus is to bring them supplies that they don't really have there, and teach them to basically, get them competitive. Hopefully we'll sell their jewelry on [LINK: http://www.designers4africa.org/] www.designers4africa.org and they would get all the money. In the Congo, they don't really have anyone they can sell it to, so for them it is almost therapeutic, I'll be basically teaching art therapy. I'd also like to try to let them know the facts about HIV and AIDs, because for many of these women, they think it is a death sentence, so they don't take care of themselves, they don't take their medicine. I want to tell them that they can live a long time.