(Teresa Yanaros) Nasreen Sheikh’s story is like none I’ve ever heard before. Her tale of empowerment is completely unique and speaks to a world of suffering that she actively seeks to change.
by Teresa Yanaros, March 17th 2018
Nasreen went from being a Nepalese child laborer, betrothed against her will, to a business owner and spokesperson for human rights. Her life path carried her from a small village where she worked around the clock producing clothing to being featured in Forbes magazine and onto an American stage. On March 14th, 2018, she gave a TED Talk to speak out against child labor and forced marriage.
TED is a global community, welcoming people from every discipline and culture who seek a deeper understanding of the world. They believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and, ultimately, the world.
Watch the TED Talk here:
“How many of you have been in a situation where you wanted to speak out but you kept silent?”
A Tale of Oppression
Nasreen began her story by explaining the culture of the Nepalese village where she grew up. The common mentality taught to the community was to keep silent in order to remain safe. They were undocumented: no passports, no bank accounts, and no driver’s licenses. They were raised to keep their heads down completely, follow all the rules, and be completely silent. Nasreen told a tale of a woman in her village who spoke too loudly and was killed by her husband, which served as a morbid anecdote of how dangerous it was to have a voice. Having a voice got you killed.
To take a stand against the transgression of her oppressors, Nasreen looked at the crowd and said, “I’m here today to record my silence.”
Nasreen worked as a child laborer without a bed, bathroom, or clean water. She worked 12-15 hours per day, making less than $2 dollars daily. If the children didn’t meet the deadline, they wouldn’t get paid.
She spoke about how she was constantly exhausted, and at the end of each long work day she would collapse into a pile of clothes on the floor and daydream about who would wear them.
She looked into the crowd with determination, intensity, and glassy eyes full of emotion, and asked the crowd if they had ever thought about who made their clothes. She posed the idea that maybe, just maybe, they were wearing an item of clothing that she made.
As a child, she daydreamed about going to school and living a life of freedom and expansion. She felt completely helpless.
“When the universe closes every door, there’s a secret door for all of us.”
Nasreen told her heart-gripping story of meeting a man who helped her escape the treacherous and deleterious environment from which she came.
A Door to Prosperity
In 2008, she opened a bank account, got a business loan, and started a fair-trade organization in the same city where she was previously a child laborer.
Local Women’s Handicrafts is a local organization that works with undocumented and disadvantaged women. They design, make, and sell clothing together. She sought to create a work environment with the exact opposite environment she dealt with as a child.
Their principles include providing a living wage to the employees, following ethical trade standards, and striving for 100 percent transparency and accountability in the operations of their business.
Nasreen’s story was published in Forbes magazine before she even knew what the magazine was! As Nasreen told this part of the story to the audience, they laughed and Nasreen smiled humbly.
With a wide editorial lens and iconic status in the lexicon of American media,Forbes is not just a business magazine and website, but a media brand that documents and promotes innovation across a broad range of platforms and industries.
Huffington Post Article: How One Woman Escaped Forced Marriage and Thrived
Nasreen launched into the next part of the story. She was arranged, by her parents, in alignment with the customs of her culture, to marry a man from her home town. Little did her parents or her community know just how far Nasreen’s story had already spread. She had learned how to use social media and the inspirational tale of Local Women’s Handicraftswas spreading like wildfire. With the help of her friends across the world, she became the first girl in her village to escape forced marriage.
A Happy Ending Means a Happy Beginning
The audience cheered and applauded when Nasreen told of her escape. I have a strong feeling that this is only the beginning for the talented and incredibly inspirational Nasreen Sheikh. With her story of empowerment and passion for human rights, I can only imagine the threads of powerful love she brings through every day into the consciousness of the collective. Because of Nasreen’s dedication to end human suffering, she continues to spread her story far and wide. It’s time for us to stand up and remember that we have the responsibility to change the world.
An Empowering Call to Action
At the end of the TED Talk, Nasreen humbly reflected on the painful environment from her childhood and then shifted. She stood before the crowd with open arms and a loud and confident voice. She proudly exclaimed that she is now an independent woman with an education and the ability to speak out about the tragic injustices in the world.
With determination in her voice, she called the world to action. She exclaimed that right now is the time to act. It’s time to speak out against atrocities occurring worldwide. Corruption can be ended through standing up for one another, demonstrating love and compassion, and by creating moral businesses that look after human rights. Improving our world culture starts with each and every one of us making a commitment to love, compassion, and morality.
“I am an entrepreneur and I’m an advocate for equality, and most important, I’m a human being. Just like you.”
I can only imagine what it must have felt like for Nasreen to stand in front of that TED Talks crowd to speak her story and wake up the minds of people far and wide. Nasreen is an advocate for human rights, and a real tangible example of what it means to speak your truth and not become a victim of your environment. Through hard work, determination, and working with others, she was able to turn her circumstances into a platform for helping disadvantaged people in her home village. Now, through her voice and actions, she is changing the world.
About The Author
Teresa Yanaros, an author and millennial advocate for spiritual enlightenment and disclosure, shares news and inspirational perspectives through her professional multi-media project “Divine Frequency.” Her upbeat attitude and intense passion for driving through truth and change act as a catalyst for her philosophical and cosmic teachings. Her new book, “What is Magic?” is for sale now on Amazon. Follow on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Sign up for a Tarot Reading, and Shop Divine Frequency.
Join the Global Movement – Speak Out and Record Your Silence
#RecordMySilence #StopForcedMarriageNow #StopChildLaborNow
We need your support to build a Learning Centre in the Goganpur village in South Eastern Nepal, for training local disadvantaged rural women leading to long term employment by LWH and sustainable livelihoods. Your contribution will also provide a stipend for rural women to be trained for the first six months in handicraft design and production, literacy, social and environmental awareness and leaderships skills.