Dear Alea,

You are four and a half now. You think I am the greatest person ever, and I feel my spirits lift whenever you throw your arms around me. You have grown so much recently, discovering the world around you and offering thoughtful, well-formed opinions about it. You are my joy.

This newfound grasp of your world also means you are excruciatingly aware every time I leave for a trip, which lately seems to be more often than not. You cry when I leave, and follow me constantly when I return, as if afraid I’ll disappear again. I love my work but my heart breaks a little every time I go away because I don't want to make you sad.

When I returned from Cambodia, exhausted but inspired from seeing Room to Read’s programs at work, you were elated. You saw my photos online with the girls from the school in Siem Reap and my visits with the elephants in the nearby town. You showed me your purple “piggy” bank (actually an elephant), and explained that you would be saving your pennies to help other girls go to school.

I knew then that despite the tears, you would be okay. You’re an incredible girl—intelligent and quick-witted, with an open heart—but this selfless act showed how beautiful you are, inside and out. 

I’ve always considered you and TATCHA siblings; you were born on the same day and have followed parallel paths ever since. This year, you both reached a wonderful milestone: understanding the importance of giving back. TATCHA’s partnership with Room to Read has given us, as a brand, a renewed sense of purpose. Your piggy bank, and our upcoming trip to Cambodia together, has given you a true appreciation for the opportunities you have and how you can help others.

I’m proud beyond words of how much you both have grown, and cannot wait to see where this next step in our journey will take us.

Love,
Mom

Victoria Tsai
Chief Treasure Hunter

published May 2014

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Photo 1: Alea with her purple elephant bank which she is using to save money for Room to Read's Girls' Education program, an idea she had after seeing pictures of me in Cambodia.

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