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My Mom's Story

by Sandy Wong January 18, 2022 3 min read

My Mom's Story

My mom was born in Hong Kong in July of 1945.  Post WWII, life was a struggle because most families had lost everything during the war.  Everyone was focused on rebuilding and establishing a new way of living with very limited resources.  My mom was one out of four children and there was no money for school. 

Every time a neighbour asked my mom when she would be starting school, my mom would answer enthusiastically "I get to go to school when I turn ten!"  When she finally did turn ten, she got to attend school.  She was the best student in class.  All the nuns loved her and offered to make her an uniform seeing that she had no money to buy one. 

But her days at school were short lived.  At the age of twelve, a family friend hired my mom to babysit a little girl who was six years old.  My mom's job was to walk the little girl to school every day, wait for her outside her classroom while she attended class, feed her lunch and walk her back home after school.  She was paid HK $120 a month, which translated to about US $12 at the time.  

At the age of 14, seeing how obedient and hardworking my mom was, got offered another job by a distant uncle at a textile factory doing packaging.  Shortly after starting her job, the owner took notice of her nimble fingers and offered to train her on a sewing machine.  That same year, she got promoted to the role of a seamstress.  By the age of 16, she was the lead seamstress of her team.  By the age of 24, she was the manager of two factories overseeing all of operations.

I share this story with you because my mom was a victim to child labour.

You see.  Child labour shows up in many forms and the first time I heard my mom's story, it didn't occur to me that she was a victim to child labour.  I heard a story of a really tough childhood and a little girl who could have changed the world if she was given an education.

What occurred to me recently when I heard the story again, was that child labour doesn't just happen at factories.  Child labour can happen on the family farm, in a neighbour's home or at the local village shop.  What might seem like such a harmless babysitting job provided for her family's meals for an entire month but also stripped her of the opportunity to go to school.  It is these "informal" roles that make up the majority of the child labour numbers that continue to grow at astonishing rates today.  And it is these seemingly harmless roles that strip the next generation of their fullest potential.

This is why we host our Month-of-Giving campaign.  This is why we source from GoodWeave certified suppliers.  This is why I talk about GoodWeave every opportunity I get.  This is why I want you to ask the questions, educate yourself and shop smarter.  

This is our third year hosting our Month-of-Giving campaign.  This year, we have chosen to donate 10% of our month of January profits to GoodWeave International.  While I don't have the answers on how to end child labour in this lifetime, organizations like GoodWeave International and the Satyarthi Children's Foundation do know.  And our best way of supporting their initiative is through donation and awareness.  Thank you for reading my mom's story and for supporting our initiative.


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