Help Me Get Back to My Apprenticeship in Dakar

For: Karen Smith
Oakland, CA
Organizer: Karen Smith
Help Me Get Back to My Apprenticeship in Dakar (Karen Smith)
$3,900
of $5,000 goal
78% Complete
Raised by 62 donors

The Story

As most of you know, I spent the month of January in Dakar, Senegal training with a master goldsmith. It was an amazing experience for many reasons, not the least of which is that it's not a usual occurrence.  If you followed me on social media, you know that I learned so much in that short time but that there was so much more to absorb. Many of you also rightly remarked on how blessed I was to have been afforded the opportunity.  Well, the master goldsmith has invited me back to apprentice with him full-time for six months starting in June, 2018!  Humbled and grateful can't describe what an honor and a privilege it is to be afforded this opportunity.  Though they have a saying in Senegal that "women don't wield the hammer", the invitation to study full-time for six months is a dream come true in many ways.

In Senegal, women polish the metal and they sell finished jewelry/art but they don't become metalsmiths.  In point of fact, I was/am amazingly fortunate that I found someone who is willing to train me in traditional methods.  It got me thinking about how this vocation is really not open to women in many ways, in many cultures.  The outgrowth of the opportunity is that I've begun working on a project that I'm calling "We Wield the Hammer". I'm looking at ways to bring this very same opportunity to women and girls, starting in my own community.  I understand very clearly that self-sufficiency and autonomy start with self-assurance. It also starts with access. I am a self-taught metalsmith and I have now created an opportunity to be trained by a long time master.  But other women and girls don't get that same opportunity; many don't even understand that it's a vocation that exists.  The creativity is extraordinary and really buoys the spirit, but the possibilities are enormous for independent living and self-sufficiency.  So my traditional training [which is significant because it relies on time-worn methods and equipment that is easily obtained everywhere] has afforded me the blessing of being able to "pass it on".  In that vein, I'm incubating the project that I hope to begin work on at a non-profit in downtown Oakland at year's end.  

I see my work as a metalsmith as threefold: to get as good as I can; to train other women and girls in this ancient and beautiful vocation; and to beautify the world with my works.  My apprenticeship is OUR apprenticeship; my access is OUR access, my successes are OUR successes.

This fundraiser has been set to cover the cost of a roundtrip flight and tools/supplies for my time there. I genuinely and deeply appreciate your support.  


Fundraiser Updates

Posted on June 30, 2018

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Posted on June 30, 2018

Bonjour de Dakar!  I made it, with your help I made it.  Thank you again and again.  I wanted to update you; I still haven’t received reached my goal but I have til 31 July and then this page turns into a pumpkin! So I feel you’ve got friends, family or anyone else who wants to donate, the time is NOW! I wasn’t able to secure the tools I needed to teach small classes while I’m here and I’m a little saddened by that.  Who knows? Maybe something will materialize, maybe this late 36% will come thru and I can make a purchase or two and make it happen.  I finally stopped worrying; everything I asked in divine order.  And if I can’t stay until year’s end, I’ll stay til they throw me out.  Stay tuned and please share, share, share.  (The picture was taken on Goree Island where I spent a couple of nights resting at the home of a friend). 


Posted on June 13, 2018

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Posted on June 13, 2018

Dearest Supporters . Today is the day  I was scheduled to leave for Dakar.  I'm writing to tell you two things:  1) I have a new departure date of 25 June.  The extra time will allow me a bit of time to continue to raise funds for my tools and materials so that I am prepared as possible when I arrive. So if you have promised, or even considered, a gift of support for the project you still have time to send it before I go, perhaps even today. Your generosity is very much appreciated and your kindness helps get me through the process. 2) I have had a brief break from Facebook [which will continue] but I remain tuned in to your vibrations of love.  If you haven't already, please join my newsletter, follow me on Instagram and share, share, share.  And to Dakar: I may be a little late but I'm on my way!


Posted on June 2, 2018

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Posted on June 2, 2018

I didn't reach the goal before June 1st.  No matter, I have the ticket and I leave in 13 days! WOW!  I feel like I've got the whole world in my hands. Thank you again for supporting me, encouraging me and believing in my dream.  At this moment, I have a plane ticket and one month's rent [and a few precious tools!].  If I have to come back early, so be it.  But, in less than two weeks, I will be back in front of my teacher, learning and growing as an artist and as a person.  And, this fundraising page will still be open to all whose generosity calls to them.  Stay tuned, fam; I'll definitely keep you posted.   

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