This winter we have partnered with Freeset and WORK+SHELTER to launch our Women for Women range. After hearing about the incredible work they’re doing and the positive impact they provide for women, we knew they were the right partners for Love Welcomes.
By purchasing from our Women for Women range, you’re providing vital funds for refugees in Greece, but also a fair liveable wage to survivors of violence and trafficking employed by Freeset and WORK+SHELTER in Asia.
This is global sisterhood in action, made possible by our amazing community of supporters around the world who make a conscious choice to buy gifts that go further.
We’d like to introduce you to Renu, whose life has been transformed by the opportunity to gain skills, earn a living and support her family. Here’s her story, as told by the founder of WORK+SHELTER.
When Renu first started at WORK+SHELTER, she had never used a sewing machine before. We called her “Choti Renu” or “Little Renu” because of how tiny she was. Upon first meeting her, I honestly thought Renu was a child from her small frame. But Renu is actually a mother of three, whom she always made sure were fed first and foremost - hence her own malnutrition.
She revealed that she was raising her children alone, having recently migrated from Bihar, one of the poorest provinces in India. At WORK+SHELTER we focus our hiring on women who are struggling financially, so within hours it was decided that our team would visit her home to verify her financial need.
We arrived outside a concrete building that appeared to be home to many families. We shuffled through the open entrance into a room barely large enough for us to stand in. There was no bathroom or toilet, no kitchen or sink - just one small faucet sticking out a wall - and three small girls huddled together on a cot in the corner. I greeted the girls in Hindi, “Aap kaisii haen?” meaning, “How are you?” I then nearly fainted when one responded: “I’m fine,” in clear, perfect English.
The girls were educated, which is rare amongst poorer families in India. Many can’t afford the cost of a school uniform for one child, let alone three. I realised Renu had been skipping meals herself to afford feeding her daughters and sending them to school. Meanwhile, the little bit of food in the home, just a small bit of bread, was offered to us as guests. I was amazed by this generous, selfless, determined woman.In that moment, I decided to hire her as the next WORK+SHELTER employee.
Over the coming days, months and years, Renu always worked hard, learned to sew and mastered the craft of making patterns. She and her daughters moved into a new house with a bathroom, and she started gaining weight, now eating three meals a day.
Now, after five years working as a top seamstress at WORK+SHELTER, Renu has left to follow dreams of her own and start a small business: a chai stall in the morning market. Before leaving, we would always joke that Choti Renu has become “Moti Renu” - “Big Woman” in Hindi.
With the launch of our Women for Women range, we’re excited to invite women like Renu into the Love Welcomes community and share the products they create through our sister organisations WORK+SHELTER and Freeset.