You may be wondering how the title of today's blog "PINK tuk tuk power" has anything to do with the quite clearly blue tuk tuk pictured above..... Let me explain.
Last night I was blessed to hear Mary Storrie of the Rosie May Foundation speak at our WiRE network group. Interestingly, I used to live just around the corner from Mary about 24 or 25 years ago, we didn't really know one another, maybe just by sight , as you do in a rural village. I do recall though with great sadness, the tragedy that befell their family, during the Christmas of 2003. As Mary and her husband Graham state on the charity's website
Thankfully such cases are rare.
When such losses do occur of course, it makes headline news. Mary told us donations started to pour in from all over the World and at that point they really didn't have any idea of what to do with it. (Of course the seed was set for the Rosie May memorial fund, which is now the Rosie May foundation).
Fast forward a year and the family couldn't face being at home for Christmas, so they took a trip to Sri Lanka for the festive period.
Of course we all know what happened next on boxing day 2004.
From the charity's website:
On Christmas day in South East Asia a tiny palm tree was planted by Rosie’s family in memory of their beautiful little girl. On Boxing Day their paradise island in the Indian Ocean was engulfed by the 2004 Asian Tsunami.
“We were told that we were ‘lucky’ to escape unharmed however we knew that Rosie May was watching over us and had kept us safe. Miraculously the little palm tree stood untouched, perfect, as debris swirled around it”.
“We were humbled by the bravery of the Sri Lankan people… the enormity of death, devastation and destruction touched everyone’s lives. Our personal experience of witnessing this tragedy inspired the Rosie May Home for Tsunami Orphans and abandoned girls”.
Mary shared with us what happens to children in Sri Lanka when they are placed in an orphanage. Children are segregated by gender and age, meaning that families are split and may never make contact ever again. Small babies have no bonding or connection with anyone.
Many children are placed in orphanages, when they aren't even an orphan. Often there is a parent alive, sometimes the father but more often a single mother, for financial reasons they simply cannot keep their children.
The Rosie May home is changing that.
The charity's mantra of a "Hand up, not a hand out" is supporting women to become entrepreneurs, giving them micro loans to start incense making businesses to sell at the local market among other projects. Meaning mothers can support them selves and their families and even join a group saving scheme.
I can't even begin to convey the depth of knowledge and information Mary shared with us about the work that this amazing little charity is doing both in Sri Lanka and Nepal. It's quite astounding what a difference they are making in the World.
The one statistic that Mary shared with us that sticks in my mind, is that in Sri Lanka 74% of women reported that they had been sexually harassed or abused on public transport. Imagine sending your daughter to school, or take your goods to market to sell as a new "Woman in rural enterprise" ( in the very true sense of the word) fearing that its very likely that you might have endure sexual abuse in order to do so.
Whilst contemplating this question... Mary Storrie was in Dubai, where female taxi drivers wear pink and drive taxi's with a pink roof. Denoting that its a safe taxi for a female to use.
If they can do it in Dubai.... it can be done in Sri Lanka was Mary's response.
And set about the next project for this little charity with a big vision!
The pink tuk tuk project.
Tuk tuk driving in Sri Lanka is almost exclusively a male business ( Mary states there's probably only two females that they've heard of in the whole of the country).
So they set about finding someone to teach three women to drive tuk tuks (Mary tells us its not as easy as it looks having tried it herself) But of course they were met with huge resistance, none of the men were prepared to teach the women.... until eventually they found one man who was prepared to teach them in return for pay and all repairs to his tuk tuk... ( apparently they women have bumped it once or twice.... )
The plan is to have three pink tuk tuks to start with, which the charity will fund in order to rent them to the women so they can start their "Pink powered tuk tuk service". ( funnily enough none of the men would rent them a tuk tuk either) So the charity will rent them out at a lower fee too!
Each tuk tuk costs around £3000..... so inspired were the WiRE Notts ladies ( women in rural enterprise)
that Daksha one of the group said, well I'm sure between all of the members we could raise the money to buy a tuk tuk.... and so that's what we intend to do.
Women in rural enterprise, supporting women in rural enterprise..... on the other side of the World!
Now that's what I call meaningful networking!
If you would like to support the WiRE Notts ladies in raising the £3000 it takes to purchase a pink tuk tuk please visit our Go Fund Me page : https://www.gofundme.com/wire-notts-pink-tuk-tuk-campaign
Of course if you're interested to learn more about how you can support this little charity with a massive heart please visit : http://www.rosie-may.com/index.html