Wednesday, September 29, 2010


a mother and her son at Lua Nova by Renato Stockler

Raise your hand if you have extra scrapbooking supplies laying around your house. Me, too!

I have just the project for you, which I will tell you about it in a second, but first, do you read my sister, Julianne's blog? She leads a very exciting life. In the past year she has worked for UNICEF and lived in Brooklyn, moved to Berlin, spent the summer with her beloved in Africa, attended a world conference on maternal health in India, and survived a drive through the desert to Utah with me and my kids. :) Now she's living in Brazil, working for an organization that helps young mothers.

I know. Most of the time I have a hard time believing that we share DNA. She's amazing.

In her own words, this is what she is doing in Brazil:

"Lua Nova is a non-profit organization based outside of Sao Paulo, Brazil that houses and rehabilitates adolescent mothers in recovery from drug use, prostitution, homelessness, abuse, and abandonment. Many all of the above. The process of recovering from a drug addiction, forced prostitution or domestic abuse is already a challenge of Everest proportions, but couple such events with the fact that you are only 16, your family is almost entirely absent and abusive, and on top of everything you are now a mother.

How can you begin to heal from such a convolution of circumstances? How does one cope with forced motherhood borne out of trauma and violence? At such a young age? With the emotional health and stability of these mothers teetering in such precarious realms, the potential to be a fully engaged mother is muted or even non-existent. In most cases, the girls come to Lua Nova with no connection whatsoever to their children, as they themselves are in the process of recovering from horrific personal experiences of pain and suffering. Neglect is a huge issue: not only were the girls themselves neglected by their own families and impoverished communities, but now their own fragile psychological health renders it nearly impossible for them to care for their children in a meaningful way.

My role in the organization is to design a  systematic therapy program to help the girls form a stronger bond with their kids. Help them break through their emotional trauma and bolster their capacity as mothers. Intimidating? Heavens yes. I do this by holding group support sessions with the girls to start building up their self-esteem and confidence as individuals and as mothers. The sessions I’m designing rely a great deal on art therapy and playful activities in order to help the girls connect and engage with the objectives of the project in an active way. I’m fighting apathy, shyness, anger, peer pressure and general mental instability in trying to steer the girls into caring for and engaging with this new life [and child] of theirs. A life without the crutch of drugs or violence. And one in which love and connection with a sweet new child is the new centerpiece. This is an opportunity for the girls to break out of the poverty cycle of drugs and abuse and begin life with a strong sense of purpose... It is not only the beginning of their childrens' lives, but also their own."

Totally heavy, right?

Well, she needs our help. 

Here's where you and your extra scrapbooking supplies come in: Julianne would like to give each of the girls she is working with a scrapbook so that they can document their new lives with their children.  Just something simple that the girls could put photos of their kids in or write about their experiences. What do you think? Can you help?

I made two this afternoon. It was fun and easy! I used two 1/2 inch binders from OfficeMax, a pack of scrapbook paper that I got on clearance at Joann's, and a pack of white cardstock (I spent about $12 and had lots of paper left over).

I would love the scrapbooks to be unique, but they should each include:
  • one 1/2 inch 3-ring binder
  • 25 pages, made up of any combination of the following:

1. scrapbook paper
2. pages to hold photos (I glued rectangles on scrapbook paper so the girls can highlight some photos)
3. blank cardstock (on a few pages of the plain cardstock, I glued bits of leftover scrapbook paper)

Scrapbooking isn't really my thing, so I kept my books simple. But you wouldn't have to.

Here are some other tips from Julianne:
1. The girls love pink, purple, sort of girly looking things like butterflies, and bright colors.
2. Since they don't speak any English, nothing with writing would work (unless it's in Portuguese:).

Being a mother is hard, and I can't even begin to imagine the lives these young mothers have already led. The least I can do is give them a cute place to put pictures of their babies, right? Who's with me? 

Leave a comment if you have a question. Email me if you would like to help (barefootstephanie@gmail). I need at least 25 scrapbooks by November 1 so I can ship them off to Julianne. 

Thank you! Thank you!


  1. Cool Steph! That is a great idea.

  2. hooray! this is so awesome that you're doing this, steph! let me know if you want me to help publicize ...

  3. What a fabulous idea. I am positive that I would only need to buy a couple of binders (or maybe none!) and I already have everything needed just laying around. I'll do it!

  4. What a beautiful picture of the mother and her son. This a a great idea, I would love to be able to help.

  5. I'm in for a few! I don't even think I would need to buy a single thing. I happen to have a slight office supply/scrapping supply hoarding problem. :)
    This is a wonderful idea!!

  6. Okay... a couple of technical questions:
    Are the pages 2-sided?
    Do you want sheet protectors?

  7. This is so awesome! Count me in, I've been looking for opportunities to use my stash for good!

  8. a couple of things:

    first, yay, everyone is so generous!

    and to clarify, the scrapbooks need to be 1/2 inch binders, pages can be single or double sided, and if you have sheet protectors and want to include them, feel free. but they aren't required.

    thank you!

  9. I'll make one too but dont count on it being super cute!

  10. this is WONDERFUL! count on me for two - i'll head out today and get the binders. great that you posted this just before conference weekend, when we'll be camped out at home watching it; i always need something easy to do with my hands while i watch conference and this is a perfect activity - thanks for giving us this opportunity!

  11. What a great idea. I will put it on my facebook too so that people that are on mine can read it!

  12. I'd love to do this! Unfortunately, I'm moving in 2 weeks and don't know if I'll have time. But I did share this post with several people who should be able to help, so hopefully even if I can't do it then someone else can!

  13. Hi, I'm a stranger that got pointed to this blog post. I think this sounds like a great idea...will you have need for more scrapbooks later, say, next spring?

  14. Something tells me you're going to get more than you asked for! Just got pointed to this blog from A Room Somewhere and am very excited for the project. Let me see what I have.

  15. Stephanie, put me down for 2 binders. I'll make them during conference too. I have some really fun & colorful binders, but they are 1 inch. It sounds like you need everyone to have 1/2 inch? I can run buy a couple sometime & drop mine off to you sometime next week.

  16. Great idea, for so many reasons! Yes, I'll help, too.

  17. Hi,
    Can you email me with the address to send stuff to. In fact, I have binders (they might be 1" but I have over 10 binders, I have tons of extra scrapbook stuff (I'm have a scrapbook sale at my house so I have lots of stuff). so, please email me where to send the items you need.

  18. oops, my email is I probably can get something together within the next week or so.

  19. Conference is AWESOME for this project. Looks like I'll have at least one all ready for you by the end of tomorrow!

  20. Hi, I'm from the UK and came across your blog but would like to get involved with this.

    How can I do so?



  21. I'll do a couple too -- i have so much scrapbooking stuff that just takes up room in my house.

  22. Count me in for at least two! I'm going to do this with my 12 year old sister next week. I'm excited!

  23. I am a friend of Leslie's and the YW president in my ward. This would be a fantastic activity for our girls, and I'm sure some would love to do it s a Personal Progress project as well. Could you please email me your address? Thx! My email is:

  24. what a great idea...julianne is amazing to be doing this work. i always knew she was special. And I had no idea about lincoln's middle name...too funny. :) thanks for saying hi on my blog...I will tell the young women's president in my ward about this too. what a great cause.


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