Visiting politicians

April 14, 2015 · 0 comments

Our office was recently visited by Gagan Thapa, an MP from the Congress Party. He Politician 2spent a surprising amount of time with us and seemed genuinely interested in our work at many levels. He was fascinated by the polymer work and was very encouraging about our advocacy, legal and income generation projects.  He even thought he had seen our khursani mala (chilli necklace) in Germany!

The ladies introduced themselves and were able to talk about issues that were important Gagnto them. They were so confident and empowered to speak and spoke so clearly and well to him.  This is the first time that a politician has visited our office.  He was amazed at what we were doing and commented on how different it was from other NGOs.

GTKopila spoke to him about our desires and plans to educate the women about sexual health issues and she was very impressed by his understanding of the issues and his awareness that a very positive action was to train mothers.  He mentioned that he was a guest at the inauguration of a sexual health program in Kathmandu.

We were very encouraged by his interest and his visit.


We go through pasta machines at a rate of knots. People with varying degrees of experience and familiarity with tools use them which means that handles can be inserted Pasta onewrongly, things are forced rather than fitted and then there is simply the amount of wear and tear that comes with very, very regular use.  They become creaky, noisy, ineffective or simply stop working.  And they were heavy to lug over from Australia as only very poor quality machines are available in Nepal.

We decided that we needed to look at quality vs quantity and recently purchased a Dream Machine from Polymer Clay Express. Waiting for it to arrive was a slightly nervy time as sometimes interesting looking parcels don’t but it made it.  And we love it.  Ideally we will eventually have two as we are now working on a very long table and usually have 9 ladies in action.  For now, this is fantastic and we are very happy that we can clean the machine so easily too.

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The French Connection

April 12, 2015 · 0 comments

Some time after the IPCA Conference in Malta in May last year, I was contacted by the lovely Beatrice Picq from the Polymere and Co magazine. She wanted to share with her readers the story of the ladies and the power of polymer. And she did. Just in time for myBea Picq departure, Beatrice sent two copies of the magazine and the ladies were overjoyed to see  themselves in print.  You can read about us in the March/ April/ May edition.  Ambika did!

Thank you Beatrice for making this happen! We hope that the French artists enjoyed reading about us.


Nesting #2

April 11, 2015 · 2 comments

In the west people have just celebrated Easter and here we are about to celebrate New Julie PYear (one of a few really!) but it has actually felt a bit like Christmas. The wandering Australian came with a bag full of goodies both donated and purchased. Julie Picarello sent a huge box of fabulous things including blades, beads, texture pads, Kato liquid clay and love.  Rex Merten, a Sydney jeweller, donated all sorts of wonderful pliers and equipment for making findings and our favourite so far is the measuring device which we are sure has a special name. We love it anyway.

Daniel and Natalia (Clay Yo) sent us so many packets of push push. For the uninitiated, push push is the Nepali word (!) for their fabulous texture sponges. When thPush Pushe ladies were being taught how to use sponges for texture, the action was often accompanied by the English push-push and this has now become a technical term as in Push Push dinuhos. Please pass me the push push.

Genevieve Williamson sent us a Rolls Royce oven Oven thermometerthermometer that means we can read the temperature of the oven from the outside and hear a bell to remind us to put things in NOW!  The lovely Karen at Clay Alley was the conduit for these adding them to our parcel of clay.

Aniko from The Mandarin Duck sent enough sets of her Dottie cutters that each lady will be able to have one set each. So many things*. We are so very grateful to the ongoing generosity of the community that surrounds us. Things that seem small to others make such a different to us. And so powerfully it is the sense of love and support that comes with each gift.

If the internet gods allow, we will have more this week about our French connection and our Dream machine….

* This does of course mean that the wandering Australian travels with very little in the way of clothing. Oh dear…she will just have to buy another kurtha surwal.



Nesting #1

April 10, 2015 · 0 comments

Having a new home, our own, and starting to really settle in has been so much fun and a Serious uniformssource of such pride and delight. The ladies are becoming more and more autonomous and exercising their own initiative in wonderful ways. The latest has been the introduction of a uniform. The colour is a lovely pink and the style the traditional kurtha surwal but the ladies have displayed their individuality in their choice of collars, sleeves, trousers etc.  (Can I just say, this is the beauty of the kurtha surwal…so much scope. IMHO a magnificent garment!!! ED)

The shawl is black and a light easy to wear one that can be put aside in the presence ofFunny uniforms cutting machines and pasta machines!  There is something very special for the ladies in being able to be identified as part of this special group or artists.


Mixed blessings

April 10, 2015 · 0 comments

Another post in our week of short daily posts to avoid catching up overwhelm for blogger and reader!

DitchWhen we bought our little block of land, some of us were dismayed by the rather dirty, mosquito haven of a creek that ran on the boundary of the block. Now one of us is euphoric about its presence. Nepali building regulations (I use the term loosely) are such that one building can be  very close to another. Centimetres away. Totally occluding windows and blocking any vestige of light.

People on the block behind us are building. Thanks to the presence of the slightly fetid creek, we still have our light. Bring on the mosquito repellent and we’ll beDitch 2 thankful for small mercies!


With our building almost completed, the Samunnat board made a brave decision.  Given Building backthat our reason d’être is to empower women who are victims of violence, equip them to earn a living, teach them about their rights, and help them see the strength, courage and wisdom that they possess, they decided to make a step towards doing this is a very practical way.

In the small field next to our building, which we purchased to provide home for a cow and chickens, we are also now building three very simple shutter shops. This means we have space for three small shops which are open onto the street and close with a roller shutter. They are very familiar to travellers in Nepal. One of these has a small back room and the intention is that they can be rented at reduced rates by some of the women as they establish a small business. The room with the back will be for a small beauty parlour, another will be Building frontgood for a small vegetable shop and the other would suit a tailoring shop.  Unfortunately for me, none really seem appropriate for the espresso coffee shop and gluten free snacks but I can live with that!

We hope the building will be complete in another month or so and we will introduce you to the tenants when they move in. And to the cows and chickens!


Living with Strikes

January 25, 2015 · 2 comments

Over the last 9 years we have waited for our politicians to write the Constitution for our imagesnew republic of Nepal.  After the king stepped down Nepal became a democracy and the important task was to write a constitution for our political system.  9 years and two Constitutional Assemblies later, we still have no Constitution.  For four years, Nepalese people tolerated this inefficiency but then last year there were many protests. The new Assembly begged for another chance and promised a Constitution within a year.
In January 2015, all around the world people were celebrating New Year and hoped for happiness and prosperity.  But in Nepal, there was doubt, frustration and anger.  Once again, the political parties had played with people’s hope.  They promised us a better future and opportunities.  January 22nd was the last date to announce the Constitution.  We stayed up late at night watching television and listening to the radio, suspecting the worst. Once again, they failed us.
The main stumbling block has been a decision about federal states.  Parties are wanting to maintain power rather than think about what will really be the best for the people long term. No-one can agree and no-one will compromise.  The parties misunderstand what the ordinary people want.  Some parties called strikes against the government but ignored the suffering of the ordinary people. We had a very dreadful 19 days continuous strike before so, knowing how hard it was then, we prepared.  When the strikes began again this month, we started to stock the basic necessary things.  When there is a strike, cars, trucks, buses and sometimes bikes are not allowed to travel and schools, shops, industries and factories had to close.
We try to do our very important tasks before the strikes but do not always have warning.  So far, we have had several three days strikes.  Most of our Samunnat ladies are near byDSCN0068a (1280x960) but Parmila ,Deepa ,Rita and Samjana come from 12 to 15 km far away.  Parmila and Rita cycle and Deepa and Samjana travel by bus.  On second day of the strike Parmila rang me and said that her bike tyre burst on her half way to the office and she had to repair it but the shop was closed  so she return back to home pulling her bike. One unexpected advantage of our office building is our Bahini Haru can stay for night when there is a strike like Deepa did.  She stayed in the office for two days.  She also did her cooperative official work in her stay. We all Samunnat ladies still get together in the strikes. The office is the place where we always are together.  We are very grateful for the friends of Samunnat and lovely buyers and the donors for their generous support for our Sweet home Samunnat.  Thank you.
Editor’s Note: The ladies (Deepa, Yashodha and Kumari) are actually VERY happy but traditionally Nepalis don’t smile in photos!

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#polymerartchallenge 5

January 17, 2015 · 8 comments

Phew!!! What a ride this has been!! We have heard about all the lovely comments and hope that some people come to start reading our blog after hearing about this challenge. And we love that the whole world gets to see beautiful polymer from artists all over the world.  We sometimes can’t believe all the different things that people make.

We wanted to include our Bindu beads because to some extent, they are our bread andDSCN0013_resized butter. We sell versions of these loose to non polymer artists via Paulette’s Walther’s website Kazuri West.  Paulette persisted with us at a time when we were scared, nervous and getting in our own way. She opened our eyes to new possibilities and helped us to face our fears, communicate better and work more efficiently.  The beads in this necklace are a twist on the beads we make for Paulette and all the ones we made for the Australian galleries before Christmas we sold. We also did our first custom order where a gallery asked for a specific colour and we were able to respond! This may sound so small but these baby steps are big for us and part of learning to stand and ultimately walk on our own feet.  We included this to say thank you to Paulette and to all the buyers in Australia who keep us going!
The rules: Post an image of your work on 5 days and each day nominate another person to participate.
Nomination: Any scared, frightened but determined polymer clay artist who is willing to risk her vulnerability and post his/ her work. Thank you Sabine, Ron, Anke and everyone else for the chance to show ours!

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#polymerartchallenge 4

January 16, 2015

Today’s entry is a shot of several of our Sundari necklaces.

DSCN3479The ladies adore making these. Sundari means beautiful and the design is based on the heavily embellished style of the embroidery of the indigenous border people and Indian appliqué work.  We were starting to play with the idea when Cynthia taught us our shisha bangle so it was a wonderful synchronicity of ideas!  Each of us feels like our personality and heritage can be reflected in the beads. If you know us, sometimes you can tell who made which bead.  Some of us like a more simple clean shape and others like very intricate and embossed designs. Some use a lot of extrusions and others use more filigree.
Nomination: Barbara Alexander or if she has been nominated Valerie Cook (a sneaky way of making two nominations, no?)
The rules: Post an image of your work on 5 days and each day nominate another person to participate.

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