I remember meeting Nirukshi, our wonderful Bead Program Coordinator, three and a half years ago. I remember her neat clothing, organized appearance, calm nature and get-stuff-done attitude. We were planning our Emerge jewelry bags and she had lots of ideas for sourcing, stitching, and design. And, I remember talking to her about the girls and the project, and her lighting up.
What followed was perhaps the best decision I have ever made: bringing Nirukshi onto the team. As our first staff-person, I was nervous. What if I couldn’t deliver? What if the project fell through? What if she and the girls didn’t get along? But, with time, I realized my questions were all wrong. The real question is what would Emerge be had we not brought Nirukshi onto the team? Could Emerge even exist?
From the beginning, Nirukshi through every ounce of herself into Emerge. We didn’t have an office, we didn’t have an inventory system, and we didn’t have a documented curriculum. We did, however, have a lot of good intention and a lot of love for the girls. In Sri Lanka, Nirukshi began suggesting new project and activities. She bargained for every bead and accounted for every penny. She got to know each girl’s aspirations, fears, and needs. She stayed up late at night, trying to help girls transition into society and making skype calls to the US to give me updates. Her commitment from the very beginning was nothing short of remarkable.
Today, she continues to be the mother figure of our organization. She meets with every girl one-on-one weekly, to track her progress in the program, discuss her goals, and plan for her future. She oversees quality control, inventory management, production and shipping to the US. She keeps in touch with former participants, advocates for their needs, and connects them to resources as they transition. She helps our many foreign volunteers navigate Sri Lankan life. And, she continues to be the best bargainer I know.
We certainly wouldn’t be where we are without her. So, today, on her birthday, I’d like to give her a big shout out. Nirukshi embodies the essence of Emerge- commitment, energy, and love. We are so grateful to have her as a champion of the girls we work with.
Happy birthday, Nirukshi!
PS. For those of you who are fans of Nirukshi, we even have a fan page for her on Facebook. Join now! The Nirukshi Fan Club