while Annaba should you started for women, it became clear men are benefiting from the content. So we've decided to refresh the brand of it. You will still see the pair with the teal background and the name unabashedly. You stays the same instead of women talking about stuff because that is no longer accurate. We've moved to conversations to become who you already are on the website. It goes on to say be who you are without apology as you are one of a kind without equal. These conversations will help you think, celebrate who you are and move you in some way. So listen, read and be inspired and today I say thanks for joining us bees. You boy do I love saying her name be ju is our instant summer gas this week. I'm still marveling at the woman. She is humble yet accomplished, creative with intention and generous while making it look effortless.
Honestly, that is just the beginning. In addition to loving her large family, she's found a way to give back to her country of origin. It is inspiring to say the least. Be Ju is our instant summer guests. This week we had a challenging time scheduling our conversation together as she's in the midst of a move and needed some time to wrap things up. I couldn't wait to have her on why we feel so connected to people we haven't actually met. I find it fascinating. Here are a couple of things I know about bijou. She's a foodie. She loves to cook and is an artist and displaying what she has created. Each post on instagram is a thing of beauty. We will get into that in a bit. Welcome to the show bijou. Thank you Michel, thank you for having me. Such an honor and pleasure for me to be here today and we can wait to dig in. Really been looking forward to connecting because I do find it very interesting that there are certain people you just feel like a kinship with or a connection with and I can't really, you know, fully explain it.
I just know that it's there. Yes. I personally just believe it's God because one time I was listening to the podcast and my husband came in, I was like who is that? And I talked to him about you. It's like how do you know her? I'm like on instagram it was like yes and like you say it's some connection, you just can't explain. But I believe it's just God's way of bringing people together and there's yeah, that's really beautiful. Is there anything you want the listeners to know before we get started. Um maybe um the fact that I was born and raised in Congo. So I am originally from Congo, Born and raised in Congo. I Uh move out of my country when I was like 23 after college I moved to France to do my master degree and in that time period my husband who was an American citizen.
He was born and raised here. Back. We met in high school in Congo because his parents came back, went to Congo to work for the government over there and we, we went to the same school. So we met in high school and after high school he came back here and after college I went to France to do my master degree and when he learned and I was in France, he came to see me and he was like a visual, I want you to be with me in America. And I was like, but I'm here to do my master. And then, yeah, so we decided to get married and that's how I moved in America and, and now we have five beautiful kids. So oh my goodness. I kind of knew you had four but I didn't realize it was five. five. That's wonderful. Well What three words would you use to describe yourself in three words to describe my stuff.
I'll say caring. Mm hmm. Uh, creative. Thank you. Just said I can't, I'm always bubbling up in my mind and finding ideas and stuff and uh, loyal. Oh gosh, those are so good. Yes. Good. Okay, are you familiar with this? It's not really good game but kind of like an ice breaker. It's two truths and a lie. You say three things about yourself and two of them are true and one isn't true. And then I have to see if I can guess which one, it's not true. So this was really hot. This can be really hard for me. Uh, let me think. Um, I love walking out. Okay. Um, I speak four languages. I love teaching. Teaching. Okay. Um, you love working out. You speak four languages and you love teaching I think.
Okay, so I'm going to walk through them out. I think you do love teaching and I'm going to say, gosh, I bet you do speak for, I bet you, but whatever the native dialect is for Congo, which I'm not talking about that a minute plus english plus french and maybe something else. I'm gonna say if I'm going to say the light is maybe that you don't love. I certainly don't love it. Your guy. Right? I, I'm walking out. It's like the punishment for me. I love, I love cooking and but the good thing is I as much as I cook, um, I don't necessary it the same. I'm just the kind of person who like to host and make people feel good and comfortable but myself, I don't really eat that much. Okay. Yes. It's many of my husband and the kids, so I don't have to work out.
It's just not my thing. Okay. I understand that I understand. Yes. Okay. One of your favorite movies of all time. Okay. I don't know if you, you know about this movie, but it's called La bamba. If you heard about it. Is That the one with Lou Diamond Phillips. Yes. Yes, Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Uh This movie, I loved it so much. I know I was young when it came out but my my dad had it and we used to watch it on the weekend and it's something that really stay deep in my heart. And you when I think about it, it kind of brings up memories are so much that happened in our society. Just to think about how this young man, which he was in love with Donna and Donna's parents wouldn't let him because he was a latino and uh socially speaking, it couldn't match you know that family because Donna was coming from a very rich family, but you just don't know what someone's tomorrow will be like.
That's right. Just 11 song and Richie became famous. Uh and then when you think about it and you realize how his brother became jealous, oh it opens eyes to see how you can have enemies sometimes even within your own family because of a blessing. Right? So that that story always connects me sometimes to the story of joseph, how his brother was jealous of him for all the blessings that he was getting from his father. And the story of Richie really catch me in that area and I was like, so yeah, I will never forget that story. Oh, That's a good one. I've been seeing that in a long time. That is a really good one. I'm so glad you brought that one up and I think it sounds like you also brings up memories of when you were younger and watching it with your father.
Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. And I love story of two teenager and I made my husband with teenagers and yeah, that's so sweet name. A woman that inspires you. Yeah. Uh Richard, I remember one time, I don't know, you posted something on your instagram and it will start question and I spoke into that and I said my grandmother, her name was Lydia. Yes. Yeah, Lydia. Yes. Yeah. Alright, why does your grandmother inspire you Lydia? Uh that woman, she had such a presence and I would say she was just the embodiment of the proverbs 2031 woman, very wise um Virtus woman and the prayerful woman, every time I spoke to her, I came out with a word of wisdom from her.
So, and then you know, that's how I even decided to name my daughter after her idea. Yes, I only have one god, I have four boys and one girl and I decided to name her after my grandmother because of the connection that I personally had with her. She was like my best friend and when I lost her, he was really hard for me and but God blessed me with my daughter and I decided to name her the idea just like, gosh, that's so beautiful to keep that legacy going and I'm sure dot are you thinking of other in that connection? That is really beautiful. Okay, so this next question. A piece of wisdom you keep handy. Maybe it's something lydia your grandmother shared with you or not. What's a piece of wisdom you keep handy? She always told me, um, do everything with a good heart and expect nothing in her turn.
And there is the scripture of thinking team. It was just 11 1 that she always mentioned. Uh, do not expect anything. Do not expect anything to give you back from whatever you do for them because you don't know where your blessing will actually come from. And you know, expectation obviously leads to disappointment and I hate to disappoint myself. I don't like to disappoint myself. So I don't expect anything and whatever right to, to uh, to do to people around me, I just do it with a good heart. And uh, and there's something that I always tell my kids, sometimes they ask me about my food. They're like, mom, what do you put in your food? They say I cook it with love. I put all my heart in everything I do. And I mean that's really, um, a piece of wisdom that's always, you know, I kept in my heart and it's really tight to my grandmother and I just take a way of living well because if we're giving something that really should be the act itself is exactly not expecting something acknowledgement or something in return.
That's really should the focus should be on us giving the gift, whatever that might be. You know, I'm gonna tell you this one time, like you said, when we give we give it for Heart, I saw a program this and then he she runs a nonprofit on facebook on instagram. So sometimes she does like a call for action and occasionally when I can I will care for something. And she used to acknowledge me on her stories and one time I told her, please don't do that when I give I'm not giving for you to acknowledge me on your page, you can acknowledge for anything else. But that's between me and my God, it's not something I want people to know publicly that I gave to this charity. I supported your charity. It just not the way I work. Well that was really lovely of you to kindly gently let her know I'm not doing it for the acknowledgement I really want just to give out of my heart and please don't you know, publicly acknowledge me because then people might think that that that's the focus when it's exactly it's not at all.
That's exactly this All right. So here we go to the deep dive, this is your passion. Now, I know that you have two passions. I want to get to both of them. So I started following you. I'm not a foodie like you are now I love you don't get me wrong, don't get me wrong. You love to say I have to cook and let me tell you listener these pictures of her food should be hanging in a museum. I've never seen anything like this. So artful. So I mean the design sometimes the cemetery, the colours, the textures, it's all there in every picture. And one time I remember I think you put this on stories where you show that it it really takes a lot of pictures for you to pick the one. A and and of course I'm thinking oh my gosh snaps a picture and here it is.
I'm not realizing that no, behind the scenes you take a lot of pictures you hear that one that you really really like. So you know walk us through how you got interested in cooking. Um let's start there and then I'll go ahead and say that. And I want to be gosh I want to be sure I'm saying this right congo congo. Oh so close. Okay. Sense that. Yes the U. N. G. O. We'll go and that means spice or seasoning in Swahili. So Swahili is the language you grew up speaking. I'm guessing not really. It's I think I'll say to my second language growing up because I know there's yes so that english english.
I grew up speaking french. I grew up speaking french and in Congo when you live in the capital which is kinshasa mainly people speak, you speak to language their french and lingala, lingala which is like a common language for everybody who lives in the capital. But then everybody will live in the capital came from another states. Uh huh And in their states they have their own languages in their province, they have their own languages. So Swahili is the languages spoken in my province, which is the eastern Congo. So if all the eastern congo people speak Swahili. So my parents spoke Swahili and that's how I learned Swahili from them. And uh, so I grew up speaking french and lingala from the capital and now english yes, languages.
Oh my God wondering, Okay, because not too long ago you switch the name of your instagram account from I think mama's blessed kitchen or something. Yes, you can go now. What does it being go? Yeah, vehicle means, I mean seasoning, okay, vehicle seasoning. Okay, so okay, so now tell us how you, how you ever started, you know being interested in cooking, learning about cooking. How did that, how did that man? It's been that way as a little girl like that's what I wanted to say. I grew up, my, my grandmother was a great cook. My mom is I think maybe maybe 10 times better than what I do. So I grew up in that environment. I grew up in that environment and it kind of build my character and my taste.
So you asked me a question about switching the name of my page? Yes, it was because at some point I will sharing when I will share my recipe with franco's on my page, I don't necessarily share my recipe. I just took pictures. But sometimes on my phone I have an app called WhatsApp. Have you ever heard about it? So I use WhatsApp. Sometimes I share my pictures on money on WhatsApp. And I noticed that a lot of my friends will ask me for the recipe and when I give them my recipe, sometimes they are not able to reproduce exactly what I did. Or when I have guests in my house and I ate, they asked me for recipe. I'll give them the recipe, but they are not able to produce exactly what I did. And then I was like, you know what, why not doing my own spices that way. If someone asked me for a recipe, I can tell them exactly what to use to have the same taste.
So I started making my own recipe and the story behind uh, the, the younger thing, it's just um, I think you're going to talk about it maybe at some point I have the nonprofit, a nonprofit that helps women and Children in Congo. And I wanted to bring up something. Um, that will happen me to talk in a positive way about my country because I didn't want for my case to always hear about the negative things are happening in my country. So that's how I started making my spice. So when I have events, I can have them taste food and talk about the taste for food in kogo. And so they can discover the beauty of my country and discover the other side besides only learning about what's not working, what's going on. So that's how I started making those the spices and that and cut in connection with also helping my friend has made beautiful food and the recipe.
So that's kind of background story. And that's how when I started making them, I decided to change the name of the page. Well that you know what that is just so moving because you're taking the spices from your country from Congo and you're, you know, mixing them together and you're actually packaging and selling them now. So people really can replicate your recipes and exactly taking some of that and you're pouring it back into your country. And that's what I want to see if I want to just try this name. Masika Action project, Your guy. Right. Maseca Action Project. Is it Masika Maseca Maseca Maseca Maseca Action Project. So that's your other passion. That's your nonprofit. Exactly. Okay. So tell us about that. Well, like I said, I was born and raised in Congo. I left my country, um in 2000 Three in 2003.
And uh, and that right after I finished college, I went to the, in the eastern part of my country and they were war over their women were raped. Like every single day. About 20 200,000 women have been raped. And when I'm talking about rape, it's not like an action of men trying to find pleasure and no, it was like the body of women were used as a weapon rep was used as a weapon of war. So I started volunteering at a hospital that my uncle leads in the eastern congo. It's called Times the hospital. And my uncle worked so hard to help those women in the eastern congo that he even got economic peace prize in 2000 and 18. Yes dr Denis Mukwege. So when I after volunteering there and I moved to France and then I moved to America.
I always had that in my heart that I wanted to do something more to have those remain because what happened afterwards, some women found themselves pregnant and they have kids and those kids that didn't ask to be there, they didn't ask to be born, but they just, you know, finding themselves in a situation, they have no one to care for them. They can't go to school and I as a mother, I have five kids. I'm working hard to have my kids to achieve the trims and goal to be good man for the good citizen for this country. So I just imagine how beautiful it could be for me to have these kids born out of rape to have education and at the same time help their mother to become independent to empower them through business literacy and small activities. So that's how I started Musica, wow okay, so you're giving back to those women and the Children.
Exactly. And is that through like clothing shelter, microloans, health care, I mean how is there or is there a particular area that you're targeting? Oh God, we're telling US four areas start start again with the first area. So the first one is um a Dream Come True which is focused on education. So we provide education for the kids, we send them to school, we have them with after school program and we give them some lunch, we just want to give them the opportunity to feel like there are normal kids, they didn't do anything wrong, it's not their fault. So and we, you know, we shall, I always say that if I can even get one child from those kids to become a doctor or a lawyer or a teacher or someone in his life, I will say Lord, I have done what you asked me. Maybe Marceca was created just for that one particular person or one particular child.
So that's the way I see it. So we, with the Dream Come True program, we provide education for the kids. Uh we have a family empowerment program which is focusing on empowering women. So the models of the child, we walked with them to the entire year with business literacy and at the end of the business literacy, we give them like micro loan to start a small business but they can they take the microloans. It's only once when they get into the program because we are already working with the child and our goal is to have them to take ownership of their life and to move on. They can't stay in the state of feeling victimized the entire life. We want to have them, it's not like a handout but we are hand up so we have them too to become to feel like you know I can participate in my community and that's what's happening because when those women start participating in the community they found the value and space in the community.
Yes, so that's what we're doing and the third one is called cloth for Pansy with clothes for Pansy was a year we connect close here, you know I usually do it with my kids when they have birthday. Um we talked about it the as the parents we offer them whatever they want as a gift but then we asked them to ask their friends to bring gift that we can send to the kids in the congo because I came to realize that they don't really need the kids for a gift from friends. You know usually parents spent $20.30 dollars to buy gifts for you know the kids but they can play with just one day or two days and then the next stage in the trash and I realized you know, but this money can be used to have another child, why not? And I made them understand that now. They are always excited when their birthday is coming.
They asked what are we doing? Sometimes we do some screen, we collect some screen for people with Albany zoom in Congo. Sometimes we collect clothes that we send to Pansy hospital for the babies and their mothers and my kids love to do it especially when they see the expression on the kids on the other side when they received the clothes, they feel like they have accomplished something And to me I think it's also a way to teach them compassion. They are learning how to have compassion for others. And The 4th 1 I say the 4th one is our community development program where we participate in activities that are about helping people with disability. It's also called faithfully and wonderfully made. We have people with disability. We have people with albinism with scholarship and any address activity that they can maybe be interested in.
So those are the four things that we do. You are one busy woman. You've created, you created this nonprofit, you've also got the bingo seasoning spices, spices that you sell plus you're cooking up a storm for a family. Yeah, I'm trying to, I'm just trying to, I'm trying to figure out how you well I'm marveling at how all the many balls that you have in the air and, and that you are, you what one of just an incredible example you're setting for your Children. And that's not why you're doing it. But you are setting his example. You're like you said a hand up not a handout. That is really just so well said, I love to how you've, you've woven all of those things together. Exactly.
They are all connected. All connected. All, every part of your life is connected to another part. And even though you don't live in the congo, you are really active and wanting to, you know, give back to particularly the women and the Children there and that is a very vulnerable population and clearly very much needed. Yes. Well, so you've adjusted to living in the States, you've been here a while now and um recently made a move and are the kids, they're kind of getting adjusted to their new surroundings and all. Yes. And I mean, it's a blessing to have five kids. I realize that now, you know with the conflict situation, you, you may have heard about kids getting depressed because they can see their friends and all that. And uh, it was hard and I must say that I have realized how blessed I am during the covid situation the pandemic and now they're moving because honestly my kids are really friends among themselves, they played together, they spend time together.
And uh so they didn't really feel that lack of not seeing people around them. So they are really adjusting way. But they can't wait to go back to school. They really can't wait. Well yeah, that's you know, that's a sense of normalcy for them and all of that. We can't wait for that. Right? Yes. Yes. Okay. So do you post seven days a week or do you do you have a set schedule? Uh Usually for my um foot page I usually post maybe three times a week. But with the moving and everything this can shuffled. I've been posting maybe twice a week or once a week depending. And so I get all my extensive because I'm in a small apartment and like I just have what what is needed for this season. So I am not getting myself, you know over one with all the you know the fancy thing that I usually do.
Um Yeah, I know that you have this picture. I think they were all cheering each other with tacos. Yes. Yes. Yes. So cute. How do you come up with your ideas? I mean do you take pictures of what you're already going to cook or do you know what you want to take pictures of? You know, I don't, you know with the pandemic situation night has been, you know everybody working from home. It was funny because my husband usually uh we just come out of his office and ate his lunch and then like he was really having fun? And now he's really hating going back to office. He is really heading going back to, I don't really plan in advance what I'm gonna put some time. It's just like I opened my fridge and I start having ideas or in the midst of cooking, I started having ideas or sometimes after cooking, like the presentation comes after cooking like I can do this.
I yeah. Yes. They really are so truly very artistic. Is your art or your creativity? Is it elsewhere in your life? I mean do you paint or draw or I don't paint, I don't show. But I am really into house decor and and um fashion. Okay, so those three, those three areas I'm like cooking, how's the girl and fashion? And that's why even for my page, my you foot page at the beginning, I didn't know what to do. I was like, and I don't want to confuse people and I I was like, do I do fashion? Do I do how is the car? I'm like, okay, I don't want to put my house out there and then fashion, I'm like, oh no, I don't want to put my personal life, you know, so I'm like, ok, food, nobody will look at my face on the food. So that's how I decided to go for food.
And occasionally I can make me posted my story, my picture and uh yes, that's wonderful. Anything is there anything I missed or I'll be sure and have all your contact. And so do you have an instagram account for Masika? Oh yes, yeah, it's most like action project. Okay. I'll be sure to have all your influence there so everybody knows how to get in touch with you. Uh, this lady is absolutely just a golden, just a golden, wonderful woman. I'm so, I feel very blessed and very privileged to have connected with you through instagram and then now in real life way you know what it was worth the wait, it was way you are um giving gracious, classy, elegant, beautiful woman.
I'm so grateful and I look forward to whatever other good things you're going to put out there and I really want to support your efforts now that I actually understand better what you're doing. So I want to be sure and be supportive, thank you so much. I appreciate it. Michelle when I found out your name was visual, I was like, oh that is such a great man. You know what it means? No, Oh it means jule I was debating whether you go for a dime. I yeah, you are a fool. Thank you. I love saying it is you. It's such a wonderful thing to say great name. Well thank you for spending this time with me. I'm looking forward to putting this together and getting it out into the world. Thank you so much for having me Rachel. We'll be in touch soon. Thank you already by I found the weaving of all the things that matter most to be ju exhilarating.
She's taken every part of her life and created a beautiful tapestry of serving compassion and using her gifts for the greater good of others. Her heart for the women and Children of Congo has been put into action bijou knows that love does so she loves and she does. Let's be more like that. The unabashedly website has a guest page for each guest of photos, quotes in a blog with embedded audio at unabashedly dot com. You can find the show on other podcast platforms. Want to lend your support and encouragement. We invite you to subscribe, follow, rate, review and share. Still waiting on west Virginia and Rhode island to discover us our social media accounts instagram and facebook unabashed. And you if you want to connect the email is unabashedly you at gmail dot com for questions, comments etcetera. And if you want to be on our weekly email list highlighting that week's episode, give me a shout. I'd be happy to add you your info will not be shared.
We do build upon website visits, social media and word of mouth to share these episodes. We are so grateful for growth. Knowing these conversations, help you think, celebrate who you are and move you in some way so continue to listen, read and be inspired our blessing for this week. The thankful heart will find in every hour some heavenly blessings and that is by Henry Ward Beecher. Amen to that. Follow your heart go be unabashed B. Yeah. Mhm.