Her laughter is contagious. Lokki starts laughing, and the little chuckle never seems to stop… it is passed on to the others sitting near her, and then those in the next room who are beginning to ask, “What is going on over there?”

Lokki works diligently on the machine. She doesn’t hand-sew like most of the ladies, but spends most of the day sewing handles or attaching hand-sewn bag pieces together.
Little Lokki is 20 years old and while she knows she is younger than many of the women at the business, she carries herself in a manner that suggests she is an equal. She’s there to work, to earn a living for herself and for her family.

She cares deeply for her son. One of Lokki’s deepest dreams is that her son grows up to be a good man, a result of raising him well. He is, I think, her life’s treasure. She tells stories about her son while she works on the machine, as I sit on the floor next to her checking bags. She is proud that he is growing up to be like her, in his mannerisms and playful personality. I am proud to know her and share this little piece of life with her every day.

When I come into Sari Bari I go into every room and say “hello.” When I’ve barely greeted everyone, she begins telling me how ornery I am. We have an ongoing joke about which one of us is the most ornery, and every time I see her, I know one of us will re-ignite the conversation. We both try to list out the reasons how and why the other is more ornery… trying to prove our point. One day she told me a story of her son explaining how much he loves to tease her! My response, “You see! He’s learning that from you! You really are more ornery than me!” She laughed and said, “Okay, maybe you’re right… I am pretty ornery.” That day I won the battle, but again recently we’re back at the old joke of who’s the most ornery. Regardless of who might be more ornery, I will continue to celebrate our sameness and honor our difference and always welcome the friendship and laughter that we share as we walk the road to freedom together.

Reflection by Brooke Taylor