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Meet Dylan and Molly Fila, and their three adorable boys.
The Filas have spent many years in India, first in Kolkata, and then 6 years ago, they moved to Bangalore to be house parents in a friend’s Children’s Home. In Molly’s words:
Although we knew God was calling us to India, we were confused as to why He was calling us to a children’s home. Our passion has always been to help people through business, so that didn’t line up to what God was calling us to do at the time. We are so glad we listened though, because during the 2 years that we spent at the children’s home, we learned so much! We learned about Indian culture, we learned how to be a leader in this culture, and formed many life-long relationships.
Dylan and Molly have had all three of their beautiful boys in India. They are the cutest things EVER. To hear a fair-skinned, blue-eyed 4.5 year old talk to you in the most perfect Indian accent is simply awesome. What a rich experience these boys are growing up with. I so appreciate and respect the lengths the Filas have gone to assimilate into the culture as much as they can, while still respecting certain cultural norms and values and expectations. It is a tough line to tow, and I greatly respect the effort they have put into finding that delicate balance.
During their time in Bangalore at the children’s home, they saw the need for training and income for impoverished and marginalized women. They met many women through a local church that had little or no education and desperately needed ways to provide for their families. Through those relationships, they started Daughters of Hope in July 2011 with 14 women in an apartment building. Since then, they have grown to almost 50 women and a 4,000 sq ft building.
Being an uneducated poor girl in India, leads to a life of being given off for marriage at a very young age. Girls are viewed as burdens, and poor families often try to give away their daughters to someone who accepts the cheapest “dowry”. This leads to girls being trafficked and bought and sold like possessions. These women have never felt valued enough to be educated or taken care of, much less celebrated for who they are. The vision at Daughters is to equip and empower these women as well as point them to the One who has created them for a purpose!
We have a two month training program where we will train any woman in tailoring. After the two months, they are hired on as professional tailors to work in our company and make home décor items for export to the U.S.
Our women get paid fair wages at Daughters of Hope and have many benefits, but the number one thing that they say that they love about Daughters of Hope is the community. We have seen many women come to know the Lord through community at Daughters, and their testimonies are powerful stories of holistic redemption. We also have daily devotions, weekly in-depth Bible study and small group prayer.
Aside from the job and fair wages, they receive health care and a savings plan, free child care, and free lunches. Many of the women when they first come have said that the only meal they eat all day is the one that they get at Daughters. There are often free health and wellness lessons to teach basic life and health skills to the women.
In July 2014, they finished building a non-profit vocational training center, called Daughters of Hope Project (DHOP) for girls between the ages of 15-20 years. The Filas have had many people in the community as well as those who run girls orphanages approach them regarding the girls that they would like us to take on at Daughters, girls who are aging out of a home or orphanage with no other prospects in sight. However, according to Indian law they cannot hire anyone at the business until they are 18 years old. So this vocational training center is geared towards at-risk girls in order to prevent trafficking and exploitation that inevitably happens at this tender age. These young women receive a year of training at the center, in sewing, computer and English training (as well as other things) and go on to work at Daughters of Hope when they are at least 18 years old.
MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
The sense of peace and community at the Daughters of Hope facility is palpable. I felt immediately welcomed, huge honking camera and all. My first morning at Daughters was spent sitting in a circle with a small group of the women as they shared prayer requests with each other and prayed fervently, and full of faith for each other. I was moved. Deeply. Over the week I heard of so many stories of the women carrying each others burdens, praying for each other (from sicknesses, to loss, to being beaten by drunken husbands, to being disowned by Hindu families etc… we are talking deep issues here).
The women worked quietly and truly, it seemed, peacefully. Many of these women come from abusive homes and environments. To be able to spend your day in a safe, peaceful, supportive environment must feel like a haven for many of them.
The bell rings mid-morning for tea time… a favorite time of day. Women are women, no matter where in the world they are. There were little groups giggling over things, eating a late breakfast (and sharing it with others who didn’t have any) they packed with them, relaxing, stretching. I think we need to have a Tea Time revolution here in the USA!
It was back to work after tea time and then the lunch bell. As stated earlier, lunch at Daughters is free and it is sometimes the only meal of the day for some of the women.
Another distinctive of Daughters is their free childcare program. Many marginalized and poor women in India cannot join programs like Daughters because they have small children or babies and either cannot afford child care or do not have family nearby to help care for the children. The childcare room is decorated by a beautiful, colorful, imaginative mural and has dedicated workers caring for the children.
In addition to this, Daughters offers a free after-school homework program for the school aged children. These are kids that would end up going to their home alone after school because their parents are working, which would be a very dangerous situation, especially for the girls. Daughters provides a tutor to help the kids with homework while they wait for their mothers to finish work.
Again, these are the faces of children of HOPE. These kids are living a new story of hope and opportunity because of the mission and vision of Daughters. I tear up just thinking about it.
Daughters of Hope is unashamedly a Christian company. Many of the women that come to work at Daughters are Hindus. There is no prerequisite to convert before, during, or after their time at Daughters. But as Dylan said before, many of the women are so blessed and changed by the community around them, a community that is pouring love and value and acceptance into them (a first for most of the women) they often respond to the Jesus who is reaching out and loving them through this company and the people in it. Many of the women have converted not because of preaching or pressure from the staff, but rather from their experience with the other women… of answered prayers prayed in the name of Jesus. For husbands to stop beating them, for husbands to stop drinking and being violent, for healing, for help, for comfort. It really is beautiful. I was deeply touched.
In case you haven’t figured it out by now, I firmly believe purchasing products from places like Daughters of Hope, is actually, measurably changing someone’s life for good. I have seen how it works with my own eyes. And I am more committed than ever, now, to continue to advocate for these kinds of companies. What a JOY it is, as a consumer, to know that my purchasing power and choices can indeed make the world a better place, starting with one woman’s life and her story.