Stories from the field

Words by Kate Maslij
31 July, 2018

At Thankyou, we believe every person has equal value and the right to a life free from poverty.

I find the thought of global poverty pretty confronting.

It is not okay that 844 million people around the world don’t have access to safe water and 2.4 billion people don’t have access to safe toilets!

With daily demands, life challenges and seemingly endless to-do lists, it can be easy to forget there’s one billion people still living in some really challenging circumstances without basic human rights.

Daniel (co-founder at Thankyou) often talks about scheduling in a daily reminder of your WHY, your purpose. For me, I look around our office at the portraits of people we’ve met from Zimbabwe to Cambodia to Nepal and I'm reminded of my why.

For the team, we hold an all-in meeting every quarter where we celebrate the impact we've made together and hear stories of remarkable individuals from around the world.

There’s a lot of tears (even from the serious ones in the team) a lot of smiles, deep reflection and a sense of unity that arises from these meetings.

Personally, it’s always a highlight for me. I walk away inspired and with a new fire in my belly to do whatever it takes to give my very best to every project I work on.

One of our greatest passions at Thankyou is connecting our customers with the impact they’re making so we often ask ourselves after these meetings, how do we turn this internal meeting into something public?!

As the person behind Thankyou's Facebook and Instagram (hint, hint follow us! 😆) the team and I thought an impact social media takeover would be a great solution!

Introducing ‘Stories from the field’

How’d we choose the stories to feature?

Honestly, it was a tough task. As I read through transcripts of interviews from all corners of the world, this sense of deep thankfulness overcame me. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that my daily professional life, my passion and my purpose would collide.

I get to see the painstaking excellence that is poured into every campaign, project and detail at Thankyou. Then to see the results of that impacting someone’s life all the way in Chivi, Zimbabwe is very humbling.

We decided to focus on stories from one region, Chivi, Zimbabwe

What is it like living in Chivi, Zimbabwe?

Picture a dry land, with respectful, bright, welcoming people and communities.

There are also some real challenges of living in Chivi. Before CARE and Thankyou started funding WASH programs there, it was estimated that half of the rural district didn’t have access to adequate sanitation. It was also estimated that 33% of these communities were defecating in the open which can lead to a number of waterborne illnesses and diarrhoeal diseases like cholera.

The people of Chivi sure know how to celebrate and make people feel welcome.

After driving for hours over bumpy roads, the team arrived to singing and dancing from the community. It seemed to be an innate part of who they are… and they sure know how to move it and shake it!!

Take a look at this video of the community greeting our team.

[Insert Youtube Video]

They’re singing about how thankful they are to now have safe latrines! 👏

This is why I love Lorrene’s story of resilience so much!

Meet Lorrene...

She’s raised her two kiddos solo, has overcome hardship and is smashing perceptions on what work is "suitable" for women.

Lorrene used to work random jobs like washing her neighbours’ clothes, maintaining gardens and selling vegetables to get by and provide for her family. She told us "Life was hard for me" BUT with YOUR help, our project partner CARE, together with the community, Lorrene was able to be empowered with an opportunity of a lifetime...

"I had the opportunity to become a latrine builder. I saw it as a window of opportunity that would assist my livelihood. Since I had no other person who could help, I realised that as a builder I would be able to take care of myself and my family"

Not only does Lorrene now have a steady source of income but she’s also helping her community and surrounding communities become ODF (Open Defecation Free) which is a BIG DEAL!

"We perceived the job as a hard trade only fit for men, but because now we are into it, we no longer view any job as one for men or for women. Society used to look down upon us as women, men thought that we were unable to challenge their trades. Now men are realizing that we can also effectively work and do these male dominated jobs. Women can do everything."

“I can now pay for school fees and buy food for the family.”

Reading through Lorrene’s story, I could tell there was such a sense of hope and optimism for her future.

Thank YOU for being a part of making this happen!

Next up, was Debra’s* story

Debra is essentially famous at Thankyou. We always talk about her with such deep reverence, and her story has touched the hearts of many within our team.

So much so that Natanya, our Customer Experience Lead, said Debra’s story played a significant part in her decision to pursue a career at Thankyou. With a background in Occupational Therapy and a passion for global health intervention programs, Natanya was incredibly moved by Debra's story and how the school's new toilet enabled her to have the same opportunities as her school friends.

Debra is a 12 year old mathematics whiz living in Chivi, Zimbabwe who has a passion for math because it’s “easy” (Alright Debra, maybe you could teach me a thing or two).

Debra lives with a disability that restricts her movement. Due to a lack of access to medical experts, Debra and her family don’t have an exact diagnosis for her condition, but they do know it has been developing since birth.

Debra shared with us that using the toilets at school was the thing she hated the most “I used to feel energy going out of my body” BUT this is not the end of Debra’s story!

In partnership with CARE Zimbabwe and YOUR support, we funded the build of disability accessible toilets at Debra’s school (Rutedze Primary School)

“The day that I first got into the toilet was the happiest day in my life.”

Debra's whole face lights up as she talks about how things have changed for her since the new toilets were built. She is now able to dream of a brighter future and chase after her dream of being a teacher.

Thanks to you, Debra’s dignity was restored and her day-to-day physical and emotional challenges were removed.

It still blows my mind that a simple decision in a supermarket aisle here in Australia and New Zealand, on what type of hand or body wash, or nappy brand to buy can radically change another person’s life on the other side of the world.

We often talk at Thankyou about producing your life’s best work. I’m not far into this whole life journey but it has honestly been an honour to be able to share the story of these two incredible women. They’ve touched my heart and their legacy will continue to inspire generations to come.

Want to continue to see the impact we’re making together?

That’s exactly why we created Track Your Impact; to connect you to the life-changing impact you’re making every time you choose a Thankyou product.

Key in that little code on the side of your bottle or box at and you'll get to explore real stories of lives changed.

Thanks for tuning into ‘Stories from the field’ this past week; we couldn’t do this epic adventure without every single one of you!

Your choice = lives changed!

— Words by Kate Maslij