I Carry Her Tags With Me

I carry her tags with me everywhere I go. They are in my purse or my pocket. Either way, I want them nearby. They are my tangible reminder that my colleague and friend may be an ocean away but I can walk with her as I cover her in prayer. When my hand brushes them, I smile. I think of the last time I gave her a *real* hug and wonder how she and her sweet daughter are doing.

Her story is hard. It was hard before and it is hard now. But in our workshop she has found a safe haven, a refuge. We welcome her into the workshop where she busies her hands making bags. She is safe with us but that doesn’t instantly erase her past. 

Some of our artisans are the little girls who never got their rescue and now they are adults, wrestling with trauma and seeking a transformation story. Some of them are widows and navigating life as a single parent. Others have lived deep in the depths of poverty for so many years that they don’t yet believe there is life beyond scarcity and starvation.

We welcome them into our workshop that hums with activity. Praise and worship music creates the lyrical backdrop and the sewing machines whirr and buzz in the foreground. Hugs and laughter. Hope and healing. That’s what you’ll find within our 3-story production facility. 

It isn’t just about a job that pays a living wage - although that is a critical component of breaking cycles of exploitation. It is about a community of love and support that wraps each woman up in an embrace that says, “You are created for more.” 

New Hope Girls Workshop

This is why each of our bags comes with tags showing you an artisan who made your bag. Because we want you to remember that you are battling with, for, and alongside each one of our artisans when you purchase from us. We want you to carry her tags, too. 

We want you to be reaching for your wallet when all of a sudden the cardstock rectangle finds its way into your hands. As you glance down you see her face - Fabiola, Viviana, Winifer, or is it Olga? But you see her. And in that glance you remember that there is a woman living, breathing, working in a beautiful Caribbean country - and like you, she wants to be safe and she wants her family to be safe. Like you, she is deserving of a beautiful life that is free from  trauma. Like you, she is #CreatedForMore.

As the stateside liaison (“executive manager”) for New Hope Girls, I don’t get to wrap my coworkers in daily hugs or look them in their eyes as I arrive at the office. But I most certainly can commit to pray for them, think about them, and dream alongside them. I hope you will too. You can advocate well for us - and for them - from wherever you find yourself today. 

Caitlyn Wanda and Mariu in New Hope Girls Workshop