We’ve loved having our visitors and hope they realise what a joy it is to us when people visit. Our “Aussie invasion” was great. Rhonda and Geoff Coleman were so enthusiastic and inspiring to be with. The spirit of Bev and John MacLaren who couldn’t come but were part of the Coleman package was also acknowledged!
Rhonda and Geoff witnessed one of the income generation skills training days in all its chaotic glory! Excited ladies producing pickles and bread rolls, flower beads, necklaces, children’s clothing and then the calm computer crew returning to make us all chiya and add to the merriment. The photos below show Saroswati singing a welcoming song that she composed especially for the visit and some of the ladies with their new friends.
Then Susan Grace, Australian Ambassador, and Sanjana Pradhan from the Australian Embassy visited and again encouraged us with their generous and warm response to what was happening. They emphasised the Embassy’s enthusiasm for programs that empowered women and had very tangible outcomes and talked about the DAP program as a way of finding out more about what was happening at a grass roots level and in regional Nepal. The Australian Government already funds Health and Education programs very generously through the Nepali government. The Direct Aid Projects are specific and targeted funding and we are one of 17 projects that received the funding.
The ladies of Sammunat were inspired by the fact that, at the moment, the Australian Ambassador, the Governor-General and the Deputy Prime Minister are all women. The Ambassador spoke so warmly with each of the ladies and posed with enormous grace and patience for “too many photos”. These have already been printed up and taken home to be treasured by the ladies. We are truly grateful to both Susan and Sanjana for braving strikes, heat and mossies to visit us! I hope the photos convey some of the joy of the day.
We are now nearing the end of the ten week “all-together” component of the training although the income generation work continues for another 5 weeks. The ladies are now setting their own 3 and 6 month goals. For some, this is clear cut and they are already beginning to establish their own small businesses.
For the achar and incense ladies, their early marketing efforts have been very encouraging. For the polymer clay ladies, we are hoping that samples sent off to a Fair Trade organisation in Kathmandu will mean some more orders leading to regular work. We have plans to establish sales from our website later this year so that will be another avenue for their sales.
Hot off the press, we have put below a photo of two of the “clay ladies” wearing our sample tilharis….but more of that next time.
Other ladies, such as those doing the basic computer course, will need more training. All of us have to work around load shedding but for the computer ladies whose training is so dependent on power, this has been really tough!
Power is available in four hour sessions and the day time power is very erratic (ask the clay ladies about trying to warm an oven with “bad bijuli!”). They have done so well and go early whenever possible to maximize their computer time.
La! Enough for today. We have some very special visitors this week coming from Japan and will tell you all about that next time. Without Jonathan Lloyd-Owen’s support and encouragement from very early on, we’d still be in our noisy dusty garage on the highway dreaming about space, comparative silence, furniture and training programs so we are delighted to be welcoming him and his wife Yuko soon.