My position at The Trading Circle as National Manger means that I am in communication weekly with the women that we help to empower in developing countries. The emails that we share have both triumphs and tribulations and I am inspired by the joy these women carry and their determination to create a better future for their families.
It was an amazing moment when I was able to move beyond the emails and visit one of our centres, the Fatima Centre, in Bangkok, Thailand.
I was shown around the large facility and was in awe at the incredible work that was occurring. I met the women who make our products and I watched in tears as they joined together and with beaming faces sang me a welcome song. These women had been living in poverty and yet here they were before me, working in safe conditions and earning a sustainable income.
I was shown the kindergarten, the classrooms and was introduced to the 250 refugee students that had recently been taken in. I met Thai teenage girls who were orphaned and were now being taken care of by the Sisters. These girls were bright, happy and extremely keen to learn.
It was in the nursery that I met one particular teenage girl, around the age of 16. She was playing with the babies and helping out. She looked content and was enjoying spending her time there. I asked the Sister about her and her answer was:
‘She was abandoned by her parents. Her mother was trafficked and her father had a mental illness. She came here as a baby and she spent time in this very nursery. We’ve taken care of her and now she is in a government school and doing very well there. She hopes to go to onto higher education after school. Now, whenever she gets time off school the first place she comes is back to the nursery and helps to take care of the babies that were just like her.’
It was at that moment and with those words that our purpose came even more alive to me, ‘to disrupt the intergenerational cycle of disadvantage for women and girls’. This young girl had been abandoned and could have easily become like her parents – trafficked, suffering from a mental illness and without hope. Instead, she was given nurture, care and an education. With this education she now has the power to map out her future and become anything she wants to be. What inspired me the most about this girl was not only that her future now held promise but that she was passing on the care and love she had received to the babies who were now in the same nursery she was as an infant. When given an education, care and a chance in life these girls will not only go onto become leaders in whatever field they choose but will also be passing on compassion and mercy to the next generation to come.