How I found my purpose: Laurien Meuter’s story

Founder of Tiny Miracles, Laurien Meuter knows why she is here on this earth, but she didn’t always.  

Once a high-flying corporate banker, a life changing moment spurred her to quit her job and to start a foundation that helps communities in Mumbai break out of the poverty cycle. This is her story. 

Do you feel that you have a purpose in life? If so, what is it? 

 

I do feel I have a purpose, or at least I'm on my path and I know why I'm here: it's probably to help people ignite themselves, to encourage people to take their first step towards a fulfilled 

life. Tiny Miracles is the manifestation of my own first step, but everyone’s path will be different. 

 

Has this always been your purpose? 

 

No, before realising this, I think I was searching for validation. I was working in investment banking, trying to make a nice PowerPoint presentation, occasionally sucking up to my boss, all that stuff, probably because he's the one who could give me a promotion. Other people were essentially deciding how I felt and what my career looked like. But, even as a child, I already started looking for meaning. When I was 10 or 11 years old, I read a book about people near death, looking back at their life, and I remember they interviewed, I think, 80 people and they asked them the same five questions such as: If you look back on your life, what would you do differently. What did they all say? “I should have lived my own life and not what I thought was expected of me” or “I should have spent less time at work”. It was all pretty similar. So, I always had that in the back of my mind: I should live my own life. 

 

The minute I started doing what I needed to do here, which was in my case in 2010, I simultaneously had the feeling ‘I am enough’, in the sense that I didn’t need any approval from my parents anymore, or anyone else. All those things sort of faded away because I knew I was doing the right thing, even though I didn't know what it was going to lead to.  

 

It's funny how once you start believing in yourself, and you know you're on the right path other people sort of can sense that too.

 

When I met Raymond [Cloosterman, Rituals’ founder], he gave me three minutes to tell him my dream. I told him I wanted to help this entire community and he said, I see in you that you can do it.  

 

What was the catalyst for finding your purpose? 

 

There was one incident which planted a really big seed. When I was living in Mumbai in 2005, I was volunteering at a daycare centre for street kids with drug addictions and there was this boy, Kiran, who came every day. But then one day, he was gone. I started looking for him, I had a photo in my bag, searching the city like a mad person. I went behind the central station and I just see kids with wounds everywhere from heroin. There were children as young as 8-years old and dead bodies. I couldn't find Kiran. I went home and it was just so confrontational how much injustice there is in the world. 

 

Then I went back to Amsterdam and, in 2008, I got into a car accident. I had to go to rehab four days a week. One day, I had a ‘high-profile job’ and, the next, I couldn’t do anything. I was there with two other people who had accidents and the three of us were just trying to survive. Trying to heal our bodies, but you go into a mental process too. I went from thinking ‘everything is possible’ to ‘okay, this is my life now’. That was one of the times in my life where I started to question myself. Who am I? I remember one moment in 2010 so clearly when, I was looking out of the window, thinking ‘what am I doing?’ So, I just typed in ‘poorest area of Mumbai’ on my computer, without thinking, and then this whole red-light area came up, and then I just said to my boss, “I'm going, can I please go?” 

 

What was your journey towards fulfilling your life’s purpose like? 

 

I just got on a plane and I went to the streets. You see all these people sitting there and I thought, I could easily cry on every street corner but I can also think ‘okay, you guys were born here, I'm lucky I was born in a safe care-free environment’. From day one I was very clear, it's not like Mother Teresa has come here, let's try to fix this, but let's do it together. 

 

I just rolled up my sleeves and I said, “okay, let's get these kids to school, especially the girls”. So, I started knocking on the doors of schools and then by the 10th school or so, they took them. They said there was one condition though, they need to comb their hair, brush their teeth, wear the uniform - all these kinds of hygiene rules. So, I called Raymond and asked if this was something Rituals could fund, and they did. So that’s when Tiny Miracles took off. 

 

When do you feel like you feel the most alive? 
 

I feel alive when I wake up very early in the morning and I have two hours alone, just in silence. I can sort of sink really deep into myself. And I always feel there's a very big endless nothingness down inside of me, where I get my energy from during the day. I sit on the source, it’s an endless pit of energy. Those two hours are the foundation I need to lift off. 

 

What’s on your bucket list? 

I would love to climb Mount Everest, that’s been on my mind for a long time. I will also die peacefully if other people start doing what we’re doing with Tiny Miracles, that we can show the world that this is a plug-and-play solution to include many left-out communities into a thriving society. This is my ultimate goal: that everybody copies us. Because then we can have so much more impact on people, reach a hyper scale and bring the world further together. 

 

Jessy Deans

Jessy Deans

Jessy Deans is a copywriter with a strong appetite for thought-provoking stories, travel and anything covered in white chocolate. With a background working in the fast-paced television industry, she has learnt the importance of self-care and downtime and believes there’s no such thing as too many candles. She is passionate and committed to her lifelong search for the perfect meal and subscribes to the doctrine that ‘if you can’t love yourself, how are you going to love somebody else’ (Ru Paul).