Lee began Pretty Birds four years ago as a way of having some "me" time in the midst of being a stay at home mum to her three children, who are now 10, 8 and 6.
She is also one of the founding designers of Pay it Forward, having been involved from it's beginning.
At present Pretty Birds is in hiatus as Lee and her husband Dennis take the family on a 6 month long trip to Laos. They have friends who run a not-for-profit English language and vocational school in the southern town of Pakse and they are volunteering their time to teach English to youth and young adults.
"It's an exciting trip for us and really different to how we live life in New Zealand. There's lots of adjusting going on as we adjust to the heat, the humidity, and the lifestyle. Definitely simpler in many ways and less convenient in many others. For instance, all fresh food shopping is done in open air markets, rather than a supermarket, and bargaining is all part of the experience.
A few years ago, we, along with a group of our friends, sponsored a vocational scholarship at the school for a student called Si. Si was from a hill village where education is scarce and job opportunities are lacking - and she wanted to learn! Through the vocational course Si now has a job in the bakery cafe attached to the school and is learning English. It's been so nice to meet her and get to know her and know we did something to help her have more choices in her life.
Laos is a beautiful country. Last weekend we had the opportunity to take a trip to swim at a waterfall on the Bolaven Plateau and to visit a coffee plantation. The plantation is part of a coffee co-op growing organic, fair-trade coffee. It reminded me so much of the ethos of Pay it Forward - supporting and buying local, from owner-operated, small business people. I'm not a coffee drinker, but according to Dennis the coffee was
excellent (he had two!)"
Lee and her family get back in January and Pretty Birds will re-open in February, in the mean-time, we have plenty of Pretty Birds stock at Pay it Forward. If you would like to read more about their Laos adventures you can find their blog at thearthursadventures.blogspot.co.nz