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Our co-founder, Paul, reflects on our tenth anniversary

Balloons are popping, kids are jumping on the stage and yelling into the microphone, the voices of a hundred people echo through the small hall and I can’t stop smiling. My people have gathered for a few days of chaotic celebration, and they are a unique and diverse group who now call each other family. The Loyal family. We’re celebrating ten years of freedom, empowerment and transformation.

Sometimes I wish The Loyal Workshop was bigger, much bigger. Who wouldn’t? Sometimes I even grieve that Loyal isn’t bigger, especially when I walk past hundreds of our neighbours still trapped in the sex trade. But where The Loyal Workshop lacks in breadth, it makes up in depth. The depth of transformation in this noisy ruckus is incredible.

I’ve been based in New Zealand now for the last three years and I barely recognise Mithu’s son when he comes to say ‘hello’. I almost call him by his father’s name because he’s become a man. When we first met he was sitting on his bed he shared with his mum, dad, aunty, uncle and cousin. He was just a scrawny child, but bursting with potential. How could he reach that potential in the darkness of
poverty in the red-light area? Ten years on, Mithu’s son tells me about recently passing his exams and graduating from high school. Now he plans to go to college (University). I’m so, so, happy for Mithu and her son. She must be proud.

Whole families like Mithu’s have been transformed by Loyal, the ripple effect is far and wide. I’ve seen it, heard it, experienced it. And our party was an appropriate occasion. We sang we danced, we ate, we laughed, we cried, we ate some more and we went to an indoor Snow Park, an other-worldly experience, particularly when it’s 35 degrees Celsius outside.

The room was so full of amazing people. People who have come through horrors I can barely describe and battle on to a better future. People who worked with The Loyal Workshop and are still family, even if they’re living on the other side of the world now. People who are committed to freedom and live inspiring lives of sacrificial love. This was a moment to savour, even with balloons popping, my ears ringing and my cheeks sore from smiling. This was my family. This was transformation and freedom before my very eyes.

Thank you to every single person who has ever purchased a Loyal product. You have truly made a difference.