NINA: My Story of Hope

When I was working in the brothels, one of my relatives, Lay Lay, who was also working in the brothels, told me about Starfish Project. The outreach teams had met Lay Lay and shared with her about the company. When she was telling me about Starfish Project, she said, “This is a good company and I think you will like it.” I joined Starfish Project and then later Lay Lay also joined.

I worked my way up through production, and today I am the Quality Control Manager. I check all the finished products and make sure they pass our high-quality control standards. Before this, I was our Finished Product Inventory Manager. I have been in a management position at Starfish for almost 8 years!

When I first joined Starfish Project, I lived in the shelter for almost 3 years. My favorite part about the shelter was our house manager, Lisa. She was a mother figure to me. Lisa was so empathetic and would always tell me I could talk with her when I was anxious, afraid, or feeling lonely. She was strict, but I loved it because she made the shelter a safe place with discipline, routine and structure. She taught us conflict management, how to get along, and how to be good roommates. She protected us.

I am now married, and I have a son and a daughter.

I will never forget my first semester of literacy classes. I had not studied since I was 9 years old. I did not think I could learn anything. Jenny and our Holistic Care Director encouraged me and repeatedly told me how much they believe in me. The fact that the company hired a private tutor for me meant so much. It showed me how much they value me and believe in me.

After I finished my literacy classes, I took typing classes. I had never used a computer, and I was afraid I would not be able to learn. My friend Ning (Administrative Assistant in the Headquarters Branch) encouraged me to keep studying. She helps me review each week and even showed me a few tricks on the computer.

I am a girl from the countryside who did not finish second grade. I never imagined that I could learn so many things. The fact that now, as an adult, I can learn to study is amazing! I am so grateful for these educational opportunities.

Another significant moment for me was when I was our Finished Product Inventory Manager. One time I accidently charged a customer too much for one product. I did not realize my mistake until after the customer left. I nervously told Jenny and I was expecting to be fired. Jenny didn’t fire me and that really impacted me. I felt loved and valued. She encouraged me to keep learning and helped me come up with a way to fix my mistake. I feel so encouraged by my leaders. I am safe and valued here. I love having role models and people who point me to the truth.

Since coming to Starfish Project, I have grown in patience. I have learned so many things, but becoming a more patient person makes me proud. I have learned how to study, how to help other people, how to be an empathetic person. I have learned how to forgive.

Check out Nina’s favorite jewelry that she helped create!