The Proof and Power of a Second Chance

 Artisan Srey Mom takes care of her baby born in September 2018.

Artisan Srey Mom takes care of her baby born in September 2018.

In most countries, most cultures and most places of work, it is very difficult to get a job back that you willfully choose to leave.

And in most cases, as an employer, giving second chances is hard.

At LandMine Design, second chances are everything.  I would argue that second chances are the building blocks of our prevention program; an opportunity for dignified work and education spreading across a city of women rising in passion to end the cycle of poverty in their nation.

 SreyMom poses with her dear sister, a new Landmine Design artisan.

SreyMom poses with her dear sister, a new Landmine Design artisan.

Second chances are proof that our program is working!

I remember when Srey Mom stopped coming to work.  I remember when Som Kim, Srey Pich, Srey Roth and Vurn all willingly chose to leave LandMine Design after encountering safe work, a community of women that cared for each other and an opportunity to learn. They were learning about some of their most basic needs such as  the importance of drinking clean water, reading and writing, financial responsibility and most importantly, they learned that they were made with inherent value for a purpose beyond poverty.

 Amreitha teaches the women artisans at the original Landmine Design headquarters in the Minefield Village in Cambodia. 

Amreitha teaches the women artisans at the original Landmine Design headquarters in the Minefield Village in Cambodia. 

Why did they leave?  What opportunity could possibly be better?  

Poverty is not black and white.  Its reality and harshness make even the most appealing “opportunities” dangerous.  For Vurn, it was the desperate need for more money to pay off life-altering family debts.  The trade-off, unfortunately, was brutal. The abusive treatment Vurn encountered while working as an illegal immigrant away from her children for months was more than she could handle, but she had to do it for them. She had to feed them. She had to send them to school.

But she came back.

 SreyMom poses proudly with her baby girl who she's able to protect and provide for through her work with Landmine Design.

SreyMom poses proudly with her baby girl who she's able to protect and provide for through her work with Landmine Design.

For Srey Mom, it was young love and an opportunity to experience something new.  She got married at 17 and also became an illegal immigrant in hopes to earn enough income for her and her husband to live. But it wasn’t long before she realized, she would not be treated fairly and that the world outside of the home and village she left was very very difficult.

She came back. Pregnant.

Desperate to provide a future for her new baby.

Over the years we’ve learned the power of second chances.  Most of the women I mentioned above came back.  They came back with more passion.  More fire in their hearts to love God, love themselves, and love each other.  They came back more excited to provide for their families, and with a devotion not only to the work but to their community.  

Second chances prove to me that LandMine Design as a prevention program is working.  The evidence of their leaving and coming back shows me that just like all of us, deep within our artisans is a desire to recognize their worth. To try again.  To not take things for granted.  To recognize sustainability as a process of up and downs, back and forths.  

This week as we stand with the End It Movement to one day abolish slavery once and for all; we also stand for second chances.   We are all worthy of them.  You can give a second chance today by purchasing handmade jewelry that directly impacts the women we’re sharing about this week.  Wear her story, her story of second chances.