Hope Beyond Borders: Meet Our Partners in Thailand
In January 2019, Noonday Collection Founder Jessica Honegger stood on the stage at Shine, our annual Ambassador conference, and shared an impactful video about an Artisan Business in Thailand called Sojourn Studios. She told the hundreds of Ambassadors in attendance that her dream was for Noonday to develop a partnership with this group, to help them impact more women overcoming vulnerable situations in Thailand. And now, her dream has come true!
For the Fall 2019 Collection, we unveiled our Tranquility Necklace, the first piece made by the women of Sojourn Studios. This Artisan Business works on the Thailand-Myanmar border, and focuses specifically on families who are ethnically Burmese or from an ethnic minority inside Myanmar. Since their founding in 2017, Sojourn Studios has sought to provide sustainable jobs for loving moms who felt pressured to give up their children because of financial difficulties.
The Impact You’re Making Possible
With support from Noonday’s customers, Sojourn Studios seeks to have the following impact:
– To provide income generation so families can stay together
– To inspire mothers to be intentional in their parenting
– To promote personal growth through educational scholarship and career exposure
– To coach and empower young women to be agents of change in their own lives
– To teach life skills and character education so as to see artisans make wise and loving choices
– To create a supportive community with positive relationships
– To challenge artisans in heart issues and to discuss spirituality.
The business specifically seeks to employ mothers who are capable and doing their best to provide, but who just need supplemental income in order to keep their children, rather than giving them up to an orphanage.
They also invite young women who have survived trafficking or abuse and those who are identified by the organization’s social workers as at risk of exploitation. Several of the Artisans who make our pieces have aged out of shelters. Due to increased purchase orders from Noonday, the business is now expanding to add six more young women on a part-time, trial basis who have recently aged out of an orphanage as well!
Meet San Aye
San Aye is one of the tenacious women who works creating our dainty Tranquility Necklace. When asked about her goals, San Aye responded, “I want to work…and then I want to work more!”
This is a beautiful attitude to find on the Thai-Myanmar border. The desire to provide, educate, and protect one’s family—while understanding the cost—is a big first step in hope-filled forward motion.
San Aye was one of the first mother to begin working for Sojourn Studios to help care for her family. She has been working with the program since February 2018. When asked if she hoped to continue making jewelry in the future, or if she was hoping to use these skills in another vocation, she replied,
“I love making jewelry with Sojourn. Even if I had a full-time job, I would still make jewelry at night if I could. When I’m making something new, I am always so afraid to break the tiny pieces of porcelain. But when I see the finished product…it’s a wonderful feeling to have created something so beautiful.”
Investing in Herself
Working as an Artisan through Sojourn Studios provides San Aye with an income equivalent to Thai minimum wage. In addition, she receives special wages designated to savings and education. Through the education fund from Sojourn Studio, she is now enrolled in literacy classes and is learning to read and write in her own native language.
San Aye’s 3-year-old daughter and her son, who is in elementary school, are not only growing up learning the value of hard work and dedication, but they’re also learning by her example to value themselves. For the first time in her life, San Aye is seeing that she is valuable and worthy of love. With the additional income Noonday has provided, she is able to make wise decisions that will keep herself and her children safe and together.
Help San Aye and other women like her keep their families strong by shopping the Tranquility Necklace, handcrafted in Thailand.