Today's Behind the Bag is brought to you by Tash McCarroll. It's difficult to put into words what Tash means to our little family. Tash heard about us through a local friend in Rwanda. She originally contacted us about photography, but we asked if she could do a video. She jumped in with both feet. Tash joined our crazy crew right in the midst of a huge transition, she loved us, tolerated us, encouraged us, and told our story more beautifully than I ever thought possible. Thank you so much, Tash! We love you!!
See-You-Soon Party: Wet eyes and running noses filled the room. Ange had never expected to go to school and had never truly laughed - she laughs daily now! Angel lost her parents "No one can replace parents but you have been parents to us, given us a chance, believed in us and made us happy again". Apologies were made for past mistakes. With strength and sincerity Tara spoke : talking about the No.41 family "we all make mistakes, family forgives, there is no need to apologize". Alison thanked everyone for their kind words but echoed they had received so much more than they had given.
For me, leaving the No.41 house after time in and out over the past month has been tough. It was like being back in a home with a family. I couldn't start to comprehend what Tara and Alison were going through and about to face. The faces and voices in the room were mixed - from the night guard Fidel to the girls favorite moto driver Jerome! Everyone had something to say about the impact made on their lives - yet the girls remained humble. There was mention of opportunity, hope, confidence, belief, happiness and so much more than bags and money but focus on the change and the bright future ahead.
I had come to see what No.41 was all about - to try and capture in a 3 minute clip and do justice to the journey, the story behind 'one bag'! To give outsiders a view/ insight into the faces and many people being positively impacted from the purchase of 'one bag'! There was a uniqueness that I experienced with No.41 - the girls live together in the same house, there is no separation, everyone is equal and share in each others lives. They also set themselves apart from so many other groups in their impact and reach into the local community. Not only are the girls employed, empowered, educated and given opportunity they are also learning about making a difference in their own community by giving back. The sale of bags feed 870 students at a local school lunches every day. The impact in the local school has been huge with students increased attendance, attention spans and grades.
I have spent a lot if time with non-profits, social entrepreneurs, change makers and, as in the past, I have been moved, inspired and filled with hope! The difference this time? I was immersed in the daily grind, behind the scenes... the tears, the joy, the frustrations, the cultural barriers, the deep connections... The hard work and determination... as outsiders we often just see the bright shinning product and not the long journey that goes into getting there!
I have never met two people who are so humble about all they have achieved, the reach and impact they have made on so many. Maybe because Rwanda has seeped into their hearts, the family they have made, they have been impacted, changed but they truly are the people 'behind the bag'!
It all starts with one!
One girl, one dream, one bag!
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