It is hard for me to receive from others. Often, as I am out and about in the city people try to “help” me. I know their hearts are good, but usually I end up feeling annoyed by those interactions. People tell me when to get off the metro, or where to buy a train ticket. They are kind gestures, and I know if I was new to the city I would value them deeply (in fact, when I was new to the city I appreciated it!). But now, most of the time it rubs me the wrong way. I think, “I don’t need your help” or something a little sassier like, “I ride the metro all the time, I know where I want to get down.”

A few months ago I was going out to our Prevention Unit with some visitors, and as I was approaching the train station I saw Tinki. I was excited to see her, and she was equally excited to see us. Then she jumped into action. She took me to the ticket counter and told me how much the ticket would cost (I knew those things). And then eventually she just told me to go stand over to the side and she would handle the whole affair.

And where I would usually feel frustration and annoyance, I felt so loved. Tinki is my sister. And she was expressing her love to me in a very tangible way. Sure I could have bought the train tickets myself. Yes, I know how to do it. Yes, I know where the train platform is (how many times had I made that trip before?!) But on that particular day, someone who I care about showed me love by making my day a little easier. And because of our relationship I was able to receive it.

She is a firecracker. Full of confidence, with a healthy amount of joy and sass. She is strong. She is determined. She is a hard worker. She is beautiful.

And she believes it.

One of my favorite images of Tinki is from when we took all the ladies to a hill station to celebrate Sari Bari’s 5 year birthday. We were meeting on the train platform. Waiting and bursting out with excitement every time someone new showed up. And then Tinki rolled in – dressed to the nines with a smile from ear to ear proudly announcing with her sass and excitement that she was ready to go.

It has been an absolute joy to journey with Tinki the past 2 years. It has been amazing to watch her learn, and improve and grow into leadership. Every once in awhile Tinki will pop her head into the office door, and you can tell that she has something that she just can’t wait to share. It may be something that happened at home, or celebration about how she was working so sewing Sari Bari products in her “spare time” and then when she is paid she can’t contain her excitement over how her hard work is paying off, or a story about her children. And sometimes she want to share something she is struggling with personally. And even better than that is when she tells a story of something that was a struggle, but is now worked out. When Tinki tells me stories about her life I stand there amazed by her resilience, and her confidence, and by how she has learned that she is capable. I am humbled in her presence. And man, her smile sure goes a long way toward lifting my spirits, even if it has been a hard day!

Reflection from Melissa Hayward