If you look across the courtyard from our offices in a mill building on the outskirts of Northampton, Massachusetts, you will find a space filled with new life. Once a yoga studio, this space is now filled with the contagious energy of three women who are busily creating our newest gift on the Prosperity Collection – the Vessel of Light.
Moo Kho, Beda and Tila are recently resettled refugee women from Burma and Bhutan who have joined the Prosperity team and are helping to strengthen our mission to empower women from and in places of conflict through the spirit of enterprise. They are a very special group of women – who in the midst of bursts of laughter and quick chatter will share poignant stories of their lives in refugee camps on the Thai-Burma, Bhutan and Nepal borders. They speak bravely about the trauma of being expelled from their homes because of their ethnic roots, set adrift in a world of makeshift bamboo shelters, food rations, and broken families. They have a courageousness and spirit that is remarkable. When asked how they can remain so cheerful and resilient, their collective response is unhesitating, “We have seen such terrible things as children that now we feel that we can face anything. Nothing can be as bad as it once was.”
As they carefully pour the soy wax into the frosted glass Vessels of Light placed in tidy rows on the tables, they seem happy. After spending fifteen years in a refugee camp, two of them reveal that this is the first time in their life they have ever received a paycheck! I am struck by the deeper ties that connect these women from Bhutan and Burma with their sisters in Baghdad – through the healing gift of light, one candle at a time.
We welcome these women into our global circle of women entrepreneurs – now spanning Iraq, Burma, Bhutan and Haiti!