When standing up for your principles has caused you to be $10,000 in debt and without a job, it sounds like time to back down and give up. But for Samuel Masih it was the start of a journey of commitment to helping poor people.
In 1986 Samuel took the decision to leave the craft organisation that he worked for, as he believed its producers were not being treated as fairly as he would like. Financially, this move cost him dearly, as he had to inherit some of the debts from his employer. Undeterred, he took his first steps into an alternative way of trading with local craftspeople around his hometown of Moradabad, northern India. From the beginning he was determined to ensure that artisans would be provided with the best rates available and with the support to enable them to be freed from the grip of exploitation.
The journey has been long and hard. Of those early days Samuel says, ‘My wife is a teacher and during those years I even paid salaries to my workers from her savings. They were hard days, but I never lost my hope and trust in God.’
With Samuel’s resourcefulness and God’s blessing, the business has prospered: it now directly employs 40 people and buys goods from more than 250 other craftspeople. And it is more than just fair wages. Noah's Ark provides education classes for 50 local children who do not have the opportunity to go to school. Each worker is given provision for school expenses, loans for house repairs and healthcare insurance. A social worker is also employed to support the wider needs of the employees and their families and communities.
By Samuel’s own admission, the journey remains a tough one, but he says, ‘Everyone has problems in life and business, but I know that we have overcome every problem only through faith and prayers. I enjoy what I do, showing what it means to work as a Christian. It makes a difference.’