WEEK 1 – THE 52 WEEK LOVE PROJECT
Welcome to Week 1 of The 52 Week Love Project. The project designed to recognize 52 inspiring humans who are giving back to our community – whether in a small way or by creating a movement for change and inspiration.
The project will showcase LOVE at it’s finest, share their stories – what they do and why they do it! It’s an opportunity for us to find out what inspires them and what keeps them going when challenges or self-doubt assail them.
MEET: Veronica – Better Know As the Monkey Lady.
Where Did It All Begin?
‘It all started in 2009, whilst living in a village in Cambodia, I saw the poverty around me and felt helpless. Unexpectedly, I started a sewing project in my home and was told about an inspirational lady that had a knitting project in Phnom Penh. I really liked her and the work she was doing and wanted to come up with a product that we could work on together.
As I sat in the back of the Tuk Tuk – an idea of a magnetic monkey popped into my head. It was one of the moments that I knew I had to act now. Swiftly diverting the Tuk Tuk driver and heading to the market to try to find the magnets to get the project underway.
It was not long thereafter – the monkey project was born’.
What Do You Do
We make and sell monkeys! We have 120 women knitting in Cambodia and we have a scholarship fund for their kids to go to school! Our knitters have an income – their children can now go to school and have a chance to finally break out of the poverty cycle.
‘People send me photos from around the world of the monkeys on adventure’.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU
‘Being amongst poverty as a mum and seeing other mums in absolute survival mode. In Cambodia, they always say don’t give beggars money – but from a heart level it’s very hard not to help.’
HOW DO YOU GET PAST SELF DOUBT
‘It has been the hardest thing in all this. It’s been really hard to acknowledge how a huge impact it is, and to take myself seriously. Because it’s such a passion, it felt reactive and impulsive – I have the imposter syndrome and didn’t have the business skills. I had to learn along the way. I have had to rewire myself on how I think. There is also very much a tall poppy syndrome in Australia – especially for women so I do have that voice in my head of “who does she think she is?”.’
It has not been without struggles
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHERS THAT WANT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE / CHANGE IN THE WORLD
‘I believe we are paralyzed by how huge the problem is and it stops us from acting. Start tiny! One little change, one little thing and going from there. You don’t have to solve the whole problem – just reach out – it makes a difference to one person. You don’t have to go in live in a developing country to make a difference.’
DO YOU HAVE A QUOTE OR EXPRESSION THAT YOU LIVE BY
“Life is short live on the edge – I really want to experience life to its fullest. I have zero intention of lying on my deathbed and having taken my life for granted.”
‘Everything you want is on the other side of fear… I saw this at my scariest point in life’. People see me as brave – it doesn’t come naturally, it comes from stepping out of my comfort zone every single time.’
What else do you do?
‘For the past two years, every week my daughter and I visit the local detention Centre in Broadmeadows in Melbourne. There are mainly men who have been locked up indefinitely – given a prison sentence but not given a timeframe for release. The not knowing has a detrimental effect on their mental health. We go to create friendship and conversations so they have a network and friends when they step out into the world. We get more out of it than the men do. Some have been there for over 8 years – with no idea when they are getting out. Some of these men have a wife and children that come to the Detention Centre to visit’.
‘They are from all over – Bangladesh, Iran, Sri Lanka, Sudan and so on –and it’s not all for political reasons they left their country – its sexuality, religion and safety. They have amazing stories that we simply don’t hear about.’
How can other help / get involved?
To support asylum seekers and refugees: please contact the Asylum Seeker Resource Center here
To buy some Happily Made products: visit our online store
Please join our mailing list for the ‘The 52 Week Love Project‘ and we will hit your inbox each week with the story of an inspirational game changer … Sign Up: Here!