The Definition of Happiness – Pekula helps Maroon women to make a living

 “I discovered that happiness is something you can create and I decided to create my own happiness by doing something I really like. At this moment I can say that I feel very happy.”

Meet Pekula Starke, a 30 year old Surinamese woman who used to live in the Netherlands. When I ask her what she means by doing something she really likes, Pekula starts to smile and her eyes become full of joy. “I decided to move to Surinam to start doing something more creative and satisfying. In the Netherlands this was something I really missed. In Surinam I have the possibility to express myself creatively and do what I really like.”

Project U ké

Together with a friend of hers, Zoë Mezas, Pekula has started a project called U ké (meaning: we are willing) and established the brandname Talking Prints. Pekula and Zoë came up with the idea for the project during a holiday in 2014. Both of them wanted to do something meaningful for the country which still needs much development and where unemployment is still a common problem. With the project they help maroon women (descendants of escaped slaves) who live in the outback of Surinam to make a living by using their creative talents.

“Women in the outbacks are super creative but don’t have the means and tools to market their products so we decided to help them. We partnered up with local artisans and arranged tailoring workshops, material and coaching and help them to market their products. Right now the women in the outbacks are able to make beautiful bags made of traditionally used fabrics.

Positive effects on everyone

Pekula has noticed that because of the project not only she, but also the ladies she works with are becoming happier: “They flourish because they are finally able to use their talents. At first the women were timid and not very talkative but over time they opened up and now they are also able to earn their own income.”

“The definition of happiness is different for everyone. To me it means totally being myself and doing whatever makes me feel good. For me it also means to listen to what I feel, and to act upon it. Right now I’m happy and grateful for the work that I do.”

Pekula Starke

Pekula with one of her bags. The bags are her symbol of happiness, they represent the work she loves to do and currently does.