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Catching up with old friends

India, October 2, 2010

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  <span class="field-credit">
    Leah Hazard/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Photo: Leah Hazard/Mercy Corps

I should clarify that before a few weeks ago, I had never met Sonia and Rima. But when we met, I felt like I was catching up with old friends. I knew about the challenges they faced growing up on Assam's tea estates — and their aspirations to own their own successful beauty salon. I had read about their struggles and goals following my colleague Roger Burks' trip to the tea fields of Assam in 2008.

When Roger met Sonia and Rima, they were just finishing up their training and apprenticeship thanks to the help of Mercy Corps and TAZO Tea's CHAI Project.

It's rare that when you're based at Mercy Corps' headquarters in Portland, Oregon you're able to catch up with the folks we work with. I felt lucky to talk with with Sonia and Rima and learn what they ended up naming the business they were only dreaming about two years earlier: Rose Beauty Salon.

In November, they'll celebrate the two-year anniversary of running their own shop from their home. They still have a long way to go to see a consistent profit each month, but have big dreams of moving their shop off their home on the tea estate and into town in order to secure more customers once Sonia finishes studying at college.

"We want to be renowned beauticians in the area" Rima explained to me confidently.

And I have no doubt that one day they will. I only hope that, when they do, I'll have the opportunity to stop in for a hair cut and to catch up.