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It’s often tough getting back into the swing of things after a great holiday isn’t it? We sit at our desks gazing out of the window wishing we could be transported back, thinking about our escape route. And that’s usually as far as it goes - a dream that will never become a reality.

In 2004, Emma Triplett was back at her desk after an amazing trekking holiday in Nepal. However, what makes Emma different from most of us is that she got up from her desk and decided enough was enough. She headed back to Nepal on a journey that was to change not only her life but the lives of many others, forever.

Once over in Nepal, Emma got involved with a charity, the Esther Benjamins Trust and started teaching English at their new centre in Kathmandu. The centre looked after circus returnees who had been trafficked as children but were now coming of age and needed help and support reintegrating with their families and communities. Due to the stigma associated with being trafficked, they were often seen as an embarrassment and a burden to their families and treated as outcasts from society with no purpose and no future to look forward to. The centre gave the girls training in various skills with the aim of securing them a job so they could earn a living and become independent. However after just 3 months it become apparent that finding jobs for the girls just wasn’t going to happen – no one was prepared to employ them.

Having worked so closely with these girls, Emma couldn’t bear to leave them with no sign of escaping the stigmatisation and poverty trap, so she approached the charity with the idea of forming an income generation project with them. The charity agreed to fund the training and equipment and Emma guaranteed to buy whatever they could make and take it back to England to sell. Emma and the girls haven’t looked back since.

In 2007, Hatti Productions was established in Nepal to formally take over the income generation scheme from the Esther Benjamins Trust – the transition from aid to a Fair Trade production centre had began. No one could have anticipated the unprecedented change that took place with the girls - they were no longer ‘charity cases’, rejected by society after a life trapped in brothels and bonded labour in circuses. They had become independent professional young women working for a foreign organisation. Finally they could leave their past behind and could hold their heads up high when asked where they were living and what they did. Their confidence went through the roof and their reintegration speeded up too. Their families started to visit, girls were invited to live with relatives locally and some even got married – the ultimate goal!

The centre continues to thrive to this day. After a period of rehabilitation with the charity, the older girls (min age 17) are offered the opportunity to work at the production centre. They are provided with safe, secure accommodation with a house mother to care for them and are trained at the production centre. They are paid a good monthly wage, holiday, sickness, hospital fees and maternity pay and are helped to adjust to life.

Many of our wonderful fair trade Hatti bags have been made by these amazing young women. Emma and her team, both here in England and over in Nepal are truly inspirational and we feel very honoured and really rather proud to be working with them. Thank you Emma!

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