Flies of Hope in a Hopeless Situation

Earlier this week, I had a wonderful but bereaved conversation with the owner of Fair Flies, Jeff Coffey which left me in a paradoxical state. Here, I was listening to horror stories of women and children being sold into exploitative trafficking, typically sex trafficking for women and bonded labour for young men. I was listening to his first hand accounts of witnessing battered women seeking help, despite the dangers of leaving. I sat in my truck, now painstakingly aware of my privilege, silent tears rolling down my cheeks, listening to him tell his story about how his name unknowingly became a beacon of hope in the streets. I listened to his story regarding the dangers of helping these women as an outsider and the fine line you have to try to balance in doing so. I listened to every word surrounding women being forced, being evicted, women being taken advantage of and children being sold from their parents.

But, then I listened to his remarkable efforts of saving women, of offering hope, of offering safety and respect, offering a livable wage four times of what a Nepali man makes of just $1.80 a day. I listened to him raising capital to buy or rent safe spaces for women and paying living wages up front to financially stabilize families, keeping fathers in country which would in turn remove temptations in sending children away in hopes of better lives. I listened to his story of fighting for two laws to be changed at the highest of levels, of spending nine months teaching women how to tie flies, or how proportions work and how to create an inventive 5D brush which broke the mold of how brushes were made on the market. I listened to how the women loved creating brushes and how the work was fun. I listened to how he has successfully saved the lives of over 50 women now, employing them as Fair Flies employees and giving them the opportunity to be treated as an equal, to be financially empowered, to be safe. And then I listened to him, as a family man from Oregon with a wife and daughters who has pushed boundaries to provide new lives for women who were in a hopeless place. A man who didn't come from an affluent corporate background with money to burn but instead a man who worked on the ground, who guided, who ran life-changing back country kid's camps on a reservation in British Columbia and someone who saw they could make a difference one life at a time. I sat there in my truck feeling wistful, yet inspired for all the work that has been done and has yet to be done.

There are moments in our lives where our calling is to go beyond what would be the rational, economic and safe route. It is a calling to no longer self serve, but to serve the greater good. Just in speaking to Jeff, I do not believe for a second that he has ever believed in anything but serving the greater good. Fair Flies is a registered Benefit Corporation in the state of Oregon, which means mis