Hi my name is Kate Hutchinson and I am a Managing Director & Co Founder of Connecting Hands.
For those who may not know me personally or who are new to Connecting Hands, Connecting Hands was founded in 2010 when my life was changed dramatically through a visit to Cambodia.
During my visit to Cambodia I was confronted by a lot of poverty and was fortunate enough to spend time with many young women and their children who had been affected by Human Trafficking and Slavery. My heart broke for these young women and for their children and I started to get a very small grasp on their situations and the real sacrifices they were making in order to merely survive.
It is every mothers wish to care and provide for their children, but for most of these very young women they have no idea how to do this, no where to turn and no one to help them out of the desperate situations they were in. I knew that I could no longer sit back and say this is ok, I felt compelled to do something, anything, just as long as I was actively finding a real way to help.
With so many NGO’s doing what they believe is best for these women’s situations, it upset me that these precious young women were categorized and I guess labeled and lumped into the same category despite their own unique situations.
What struck me with a lot of larger organisations is that they were using a rather blanket approach, which I guess is understandable and I commend them for the work they are doing to assist in these situations. But for me personally imagining putting myself in some of these young women’s situations, would I want to be labeled and put into a program where my unique nature, the desires of my heart, my ambitions were just taken for granted, assumed or overlooked.
Many of these young women are just babies 12, 13, 14 or 16 years old, their lives are supposed to be just beginning, possibilities should be endless, but instead, for some they have been enslaved into situations that we could not even begin to imagine. While many 18 years and over young women are forgotten, there is no hope for them to be reeducated, they are labeled as too old to learn new things.
Sitting down and talking to some of these young girls is rather eye opening, after such terrible pasts of abuse, they still muster up the courage and dare to dream and believe. They have goals, ambitions and for some know exactly what they want to do with their lives if given the freedom, opportunity and choice.
It became very evident and important to us that Connecting Hands should be a charity that not only supported these young women and their families, but who treated each young woman individually as a person who was unique and special. Exploring opportunities to find out exactly what each individual wanted in life and to do our best to equip them with the skills and confidence to do so.
The Connecting Hands Training Cafe has been a long time in the process, but we could not be more happy that in just 5 weeks time our first in take of trainees will commence training at a place they can grown and be nurtured.
Our training program not only teaches these young women to become young cooks, chefs, Baristas etc., but it also teaches them how to become independent and prepare for their futures.
Young women training at our cafe are there because they have chosen to, they are interested in this industry and are looking forward to commencing the new chapter of their lives.
Each month we will work with each young trainee one on one giving them opportunity to talk about their training program, how they are going, if they are enjoying it & any challenges they have.
We will work with them and teach them how to budget their finances and prepare them for employment once their 9 month traineeship with us concludes.
Each young woman is a special individual, who has special needs, desires and dreams for their future.
It is Connecting Hands role to bring out the best in each young woman, giving them the love, confidence and skills to excel in life in the way that they wish to do so.
We are very proud of our training model and can’t wait to share the outcomes with you as our young trainees develop and grow using their new skills.
What makes this training cafe extra special is, the love and generosity that has gone in to developing this program.
Every cent in which this cafe is built and fitted out with has come only from the generous donations of every day Australians that care about dreams of others.
As hard as we have tried, we have not received any corporate funding, government grants etc.
The fact that we are only $10 -$12 K off our financial target speaks volumes to us, and we can’t thank everyone who has been involved in this program enough for their generosity and support.
This journey has been one of excitement, hard work and personal sacrifice, but I can say that is has been worthwhile.
I know personally I have been challenged in many areas of my life and the desire to support others in need has been challenged by many around me, but I stand firm in my belief that with love and compassion comes hope. And with hope comes opportunity, peace and joy.
If you would like to assist us with donating something small to our Cafe Project I would really appreciate it. You too could be apart of this amazing journey in which we look forward to sharing with you.
For more info on our cafe project and for ways that you can help please click here