When we were in Thailand on our honeymoon, I thought that I was going to meet the artisans who make our Elephant Pants. Unfortunately, the trip to the factory fell through because of construction being completed there. I thought that meeting the artisans would help solidify why I am running a fair trade business, especially because I haven’t been to a third world country in so long. I do still believe that meeting the people I work with in person will keep me charged. BUT, I was surprised at how motivated to get back to my business when I was in Thailand. Not because I wanted to leave, far from it. Because I wanted to get back and continue the work I was doing, continue to make an impact and spark change.
Today, I would like to talk about one instance specifically from Thailand. We did an amazing cooking class while we were in Chiang Mai. (This was one of our favorite cities on the trip and we can’t wait to go back!) Our instructor really enjoyed speaking with us and was eager to share her life’s story.
She reported that she grew up in a very poor family. Because of this, she needed to drop out of school and start working at the age of 12, cleaning public toilets. At such a young age, she was working 7 days a week and only allotted three days off a year. No education, no time to play with friends, no time to explore. To make matters worse, she was making 2500 Baht in one month. Approximately, 83 US $. Which means, she was making less than 38 cents per hour if she was working 8 hour work days. Likely, she was working at least 10 hour days, but this was something I didn’t get to ask. Garment workers are making relatively the same amount of money all over the world, as adults. There is no way that a mother could take care of her family off of 38 cents per hour.
Our cooking teacher was not telling us this story as part of a pity party. More, it was a flat statement of the realities in Thailand. Her life has changed for the better now. She sleeps well, eats good food, and has a good job. Her goal is to own a home one day.
This very simple quick conversation, made me so aware of where we were and why I do what I do. This is exactly why I put so much effort into this business. Parents that want to work, but don’t have the opportunities, take their kids out of school. Even if it is not something that they want to do, it is something that NEEDS to be done to put food on the table. Parents that do work but are making less than a liveable wage, HAVE to take their kids out of school even if it is the last thing they want to do. All other options have been exhausted and the children suffer because of this messed up world we live in.
My passion is to keep kids in school. Keep kids educated. Change the next generation. EMPOWER the next generation. Teach them that they are valued and deserve education.
Global Partnership on education states, “Education reduces poverty, boosts economic growth and increases income. It increases a person’s chances of having a healthy life, reduces maternal deaths, and combats diseases such as HIV and AIDS.”
What better goal to have than to keep children in school?
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