Khen, one of our talented tag makers from the Paper Project group, shared her life story. She tells a story of a young mother who had to survive the merciless streets of the city just to make a living, and how an unseemly event might have just saved her life.
Getting pregnant at an early age of 17 was the point that changed Khen’s life forever. Living in Butuan, a province in the southern part of the Philippines, with her parents who barely makes enough for them and the absence of the father of her child, forced her to make a decision to leave college and find work in Manila.
To many Filipinos who are living in rural poverty, the common misconception was Manila is the land of promise where there are unlimited jobs and opportunities. Later, and most likely too late, is when they would realize the error of that notion.
It was exactly what happened to Ken, a young woman lost in a big city with no experience to offer. And like most young women who couldn’t find their way, they end up in the corners. Dark, cruel corners where they become most vulnerable and left with a difficult decision of offering the only thing they possess in order to survive…themselves.
struggles in the shadows
This was a part of Khen’s life she was most ashamed of. She kept it from everyone else back home, especially her family. The only thing that kept her going was the life of that child she left with her parents to support. Somehow, that made things easier for her to digest.
The street life swallowed her, made her forget her true self. And for five more years she would lose every measure of dignity she has left as she worked in the bars every night looking for that day that she has finally saved enough to go home to her child.
And with a seemingly austere turn of events, Khen would get pregnant again with her second child. The father, unknown.
And so it inadvertently pushed her further down into that life she so wanted to leave. Two mouths to feed and aging parents to support, she didn’t know what else to do. Nobody would stop and give an uneducated woman from the bars an opportunity of a good life. Not in this world, she tells herself.
THAT FATEFUL NIGHT...
The bar she was working on got raided and closed down by the authorities. Khen, among other women were luckily rescued by an organization called International Justice Mission, a non-profit group that combats sex trafficking. They were sent into a shelter while IJM looks for a legal and decent job for them. Eventually, Khen was given a job in a restaurant that helped her get back on her feet. The hours were irregular and there were no rest days, but the needs of her children surmounts any hardships.
Not long after, Khen found an opportunity to become a card maker for The Paper Project, a company that helps empower women by employing them. She was accepted and the rest was history.
A new lEAF
Khen is now the head of quality control for The Paper Project. She has cut and pasted her way to where she is now, working hard every day to become better. It was easier to be good at something if you’re enjoying it, according to her. Aside from her good position in the company, she’s also part of a team that directly helps women that has been rescued from the streets. With her two boys now aged 11 and 6, Khen can easily provide them and her parents with the support they need.
She is very thankful for having this new direction in her life… a clean and clear path to a future where she can send her boys to college, save enough money in the bank and hopefully get married someday.
An admirably simple dream for someone who has been in the most complicated of situations... but then not everyone is lucky enough to survive the nightmare of the streets to even begin to dream.
Your continued patronage of our products directly helps women survivors like Khen reach their dreams through The Paper Project Inc.
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