Happy New Year!
And just like that, we wish a big farewell to 2018 and turn to welcome and usher in 2019. I tend to get sentimental around New Years - it’s a natural season to reflect on the past with gratitude and to look forward in hope to the future. But that’s not always the case; I recognize the privilege I have in reviewing life with gratitude and hope. Because sometimes the past is hard to gaze upon - we’d rather forget about it, wave bye in the rearview mirror and never look back. Or sometimes it’s the future that is intimidating - the unknown that we tentatively tiptoe towards with hesitation, fighting to conjure up the slightest amount of optimism.
This is the very tension under which our women enter into our program.
Wanting to leave the past behind, not letting it define them, yet fearful to enter into who-knows-what, wondering if the past will just keep circling around them or, even worse, drag them backwards. And yet we are continuously astounded at the bravery, the boldness, the spirit of these women, fiercely grabbing the future by the horns and saying, “I get to call the shots now.”
Our theme for 2019 is BRAVE & BOLD.
And nothing encapsulates this theme more than our favorite story to come out of Costa Rica yet.
Angie, the incredible woman heading up our FTG CR program under our Program Partners, relayed this story a couple months ago, and we haven’t stopped smiling over it. The women had been selling bras for about 6 weeks at this point. Angie had gathered all the women to check in, to gauge how they’re doing emotionally as well as financially, allowing time for the women to discuss their success and frustrations with their new businesses of selling bras.
They went around the circle, discussing the average price to sell a bra - around 3500 colones ($6USD). One woman, a woman known to be shy and insecure, sat silently, waiting for her turn. This was a woman that no one really expected to be super successful due to her timid personality. When it was her turn to talk about how she’s been doing, she quietly said, “I haven’t sold any bra for less than 8300 colones ($14USD).” The other women were shocked! What?! This quiet woman continued to explain that she knew this was her one chance to ensure she could be done with prostitution, once and for all, and she didn’t want to ruin it. So she crunched some numbers, figured out how much she needed to make for rent, food, and other essentials and then to begin planning for her future. She knew she needed to sell each bra for at least $14USD, so that’s what she did. And she made so much that she was able to make her monthly bills AND buy a sewing machine!!!! She said her next month’s wages would go towards beginning to pay for sewing and tailoring lessons!
The other women were stunned. More so because they said, “This just isn’t who she is!” But that’s the beauty of it. That IS who she is. She just hasn’t had the chance to be who she truly is before this.
Here is a woman who knew what she wanted and what she needed to do in order to achieve her long-term dreams - and she did it. Bravely and boldly.
She’s our hero, our model. She’s who we want to emulate as an organization. We want to be as brave and bold as this woman in all that we do - in the new things we’re rolling out in 2019, in our communications and reporting to all of you, in our asks and requests for bras and bucks to continue our mission, in inviting everyone to become an Everyday Abolitionist. We want our supporters to be as brave and bold as this woman in all you do - in your lives, in your relationships, in your standing up for injustices in your own country and around the world. And we can’t wait to see how our women around the world act this out, continuing to inspire and challenge us.
Welcome 2019. We welcome you with bravery and with boldness and great expectation.