There is a fundamental divide over what it means to be a ‘good’ person. The general perception is that as long as you are a law abiding citizen, then that qualifies as being a ‘good’ person.
Yet there are those who go beyond that.
There are those who have more empathy and compassion than the world put together (and no it’s not an exaggeration). Watch the news and all you tend to see is greed, corruption and a general lack of kindness.
Until you are fortunate enough to spot a ray of sunshine in a sea of clouds.
In the midst of all this chaos you are shown there are still good people and it is absolutely refreshing to read a story like this. Back in June, I was fortunate enough to meet one amazing lady and learnt how she is making a difference by giving back to society, specifically to the less fortunate villagers in South East Asia.
This is her story.
I think everyone feels pressured at some point in their life to ‘fit in’ with either society’s, their parent’s or friend’s expectations. Tell me you have not heard these phrases at least once in your life:
‘You should get married and start a family….’
‘You’ve been together for HOW long? And you’re not married? No babies? Why?’
‘Travel the world? Are you crazy?! How will you afford it? You won’t have a job when you get back?!
‘Find a good job and make good money’’
Here’s the thing, everyone is different.
There is no ‘one size fits all’ throughout our journey of life. I say this all the time: everyone has their own path to forge and follow, and it is up to you to find out what your path looks like – it is important to pursue your own journey.
Don’t satisfy the crowd. Take that journey and never look back.
Samantha Townend did just that, she is going through her own journey on her own terms. She is one of the few that decided to pursue the unconventional path – a path not many people take.
“The unconventional path is about doing those things that speak to you, pursuing what’s in your heart and ditching critics that keep telling you to play it safe, or settle down and find a steady career.”
By the time you finish reading her story, I think we can agree that Samantha has the ability and willingness to be selfless, creative, innovative and dares to be different.
There are still good people in this world.
Born and raised in Brisbane Australia, Samantha held a love for travelling at a young age. She was 7 years young when she first went overseas and over 20 years later she has not stopped exploring this beautiful world we live in:
“ It is thanks to my adventures that inspires my creativity and drive to live a life that is positive and gives back to the world as much as possible.”
Samantha always wanted to make her mark on the world and her professional background in radio, not for profit and marketing and events exposed her to a variety of industry leaders. This was a blessing, as it not only paved her way to the world of business, but led her to leave the corporate world and start her own business before she reached 30.
Living in a country such as Australia rich in resources, it is easy to forget about people who do not have access to the most basic human needs such as fresh water, food and shelter. These people struggle everyday and have no choice but to be exploited by greedy companies, corrupt governments and heartless individuals.
Samantha saw this first hand while travelling through Cambodia and after hearing stories from the locals and seeing their living conditions, she was determined to make a difference to their lives.
One lady described losing her husband, 3 daughters, and her newborn baby to starvation when she was just 26 years old under the Khmer Rouge – a brutal regime that killed up to 2 million people. For a parent to bury their child it is gut wrenching, it goes against the laws of nature. Parents shouldn’t have to bury their children. Yet, this is the reality for some of the people in Cambodia.
Another man recounts the time when a group of Western men came to the village and exploited their poverty, causing desperate parents to sell their daughters for food.
It’s an abomination hearing what these people have endured. Any parent will find it difficult not to judge the actions of these desperate parents – it’s easy to blame and think ‘I will never do this’ or ‘how can you sell your own child? We should be focused on condemning the guilty and not focused on placing judgement on those who are forced to do the unthinkable just to survive. Destitution forces people to do the unfathomable, in order to have one more day on earth.
Despite all the trauma and heartache many of the villagers have gone through, they are kind, friendly and try to give as much as they can. Even when they have absolutely nothing, their human spirit finds joy in the little things- like a cup of fresh water, a pair of shoes or a small home. Things we often take for granted.
There are moments when you witness the pain in their eyes behind their friendly and laughing exterior. It’s something they cannot hide nor something they can ever run away from. Yet they believe in the beauty of life, because they have SEEN compassion, empathy and kindness by people like Samantha.
This is why the work Samantha does is so important.
Samantha is the Founder and creator of ‘The Kindness Collective Shop’, a business which was established to support not for profit projects (especially grassroots), social enterprises and individuals. Staying true to its name, ‘The Kindness Collective’ focuses on giving back to the community by selling clothes that are handmade from Cambodia.
The Kindness Collective Shop is an ethical business and they pride themselves on providing great conditions for their Cambodian workers and are completely against exploitation (that means NO child labour and safe and fair working conditions).
“Here at The Kindness Collective….Every product purchased gives back – whether it be to poverty, the environment, animals or people trafficking; everything is in the name of kindness. Many of our beautiful products are handmade by artisans and individuals from around the world; giving those in need the right opportunities…”
In conjunction with running her own business, Samantha is also the Operations Manager at Global Village Housing, an organisation dedicated to helping improve the living conditions within South East Asia with assistance from their volunteers and Partners.
“Many exist on the lowest society level in already poor communities. This makes them desperate, and many have no choice but to live as cheap, disposable labour.”
Samantha and the team at Global Village Housing have a vision: To do what they can within their power to improve the living conditions of the people within South East Asia.
You only need to look at their website, Facebook page and Instagram to see the monumental achievements they have accomplished. So far they have built and donated 139 homes in 10 different provinces, which means 650 people now have a safe place to call home.
Their achievements are only possible by having people similar to Samantha come together and do what seems as an impossible task.
No doubt Samantha has learnt a multitude of lessons during her time in the corporate world, as an entrepreneur and volunteer. So I asked her a question that is sometimes quite difficult to answer merely because there are so many things to say…..”what is one piece of advice you would like to leave our readers?”
“Have fun, life is too short
Make a positive impact with all you do.
Go against the grain, let your voice be heard.
Challenge yourself, don’t turn a blind eye.
Give your time, not just your money.
Most of all, be kind to everyone & everything.
It’s never too early to eat chocolate, chocolate starts the heart.”
Thank you Samantha and the Team at Global Village Housing for all that you do.
For those of you who share a similar vision like Samantha does, and who give back to society in your own unique way- keep on going.
At times it can feel that your good deeds are small in comparison to the large scale issues in the world but it is important not to lose your momentum and not to lose sight of what it is you want to achieve.
Stay true to your passion.
Stay true to your commitment.
Stay true to your vision.
The world needs more people like Samantha Townend and the Team at Global Village Housing.
Find them on Facebook and Instagram
Originally published at myvoicemystories.com