At the FIMO50 celebration, Wendy Didi and I were there for our ladies. When I returned to Birtamod, I spent a whole day telling the polymer ladies and the Cooperative ladies all about the event. They were so excited and want to hear every detail. They loved to hear about their tile on the globe and the beautiful flowers and that the Symposium ladies bought their mala. They were so happy when I showed them the cardboard cheque! This was like our dreams come true.
As we said at the FIMO50 celebration, we are big dreamers. We dream of a society where Nepali women are safe from violence and can live empowered lives. But even though we dream big, we never dreamt that the donation made by Staedtler FIMO would be this generous! Always we are thinking about what we need and what we like to do. Sometimes we can’t do all the things we would like to because we have to decide what is the most important thing to do with what we have. We already decided that with our donation we would replace some older equipment and publish a book that we have been writing for nearly two years.
When we had some training that taught us about our bodies, we were very surprised at some information and realised that most of us were not taught anything, or were taught wrong things. We learnt things about our bodies that we didn’t know; like some of us didn’t know that there we times when our bodies were less fertile. And most of us were very surprised that it is not our fault when we don’t bear sons. Everyone tells us it is our fault. Some of use have been abused and abandoned for not bearing sons. We were surprised then angry that we were not empowered by knowing the facts. We decided that we didn’t want our children to be as ignorant.
It is hard to talk to children about sex, in any country, so we thought about how it would be easier. Wendy Didi said that in some countries there are books to help families talk about sex in a way that is right for the children. We don’t have any books like this in Nepali so decided to write our own! We thought about how we would talk to our younger children when they ask where babies come from. We used to say we found you in the garden or the gods gave us. In our book, we wanted to say the truth in a way that was suitable for our culture, simple for young children and have pictures that were about us. We had some important messages in our pictures: that it is good to come to the hospital for a safe delivery; ladies can be doctors; dark skin colour doesn’t matter and even that ladies could have short hair! We helped write some text and Wendy Didi’s friend Cathy Farry in Broken Hill has painted wonderful pictures and now with the money from FIMO we are approaching printers to get our book printed. At first we were only going to have it in Nepali language but we want to donate copies to schools so we are having English and Nepali text.
Our other dream was that we could help ladies who needed it with education expenses for their during the average of 2 1/2 years that it takes for them to get compensation and independence. Until now, we never had the resources for this. But now, thanks to Staedtler FIMO we will be able to help women who are struggling to keep their children at school by assisting them with school fees. We so believe that education, especially of our girls, is the way to empower and create change. We are so glad that now we can help with this.
Read more about the FIMO50 event here and here.
Yesterday Kopila wrote about getting to Germany. Here she writes about her stay there. The good photos are taken by Georg!
It was a big relief after meeting with Wendy Didi and Malcolm Dai at the airport. We made sure we caught planes that arrived at nearly the same time. We spent two days in Munich and we visited some parts of the town. After two days we headed 2 hours by a fast train to beautiful Galerie Freisleben at Ubersee. We had a really great time meeting with friends from Nepal: Hanna, Josef and their three boys; and it was a big surprise to see Bishnu bhai and Gaby and their cute little baby Emma. We met up with Maggie and Chuck and Cynthia Didi. We had a two Good Nepali dinner which we all cooked for everybody. It was such a memorable time in Ubersee and we thank so lovely Ariane, Einhardt and Kerstin for giving us a home from home.
After spending 3 nights we were very close for the FIMO50 Gala night. We came to Nuremberg where the program was arranged and also had a very lovely time in Salzburg. The Gala night was very big and it was totally new excitement for me. One of the really big thing was I was going to meet with very special people: Susanne, Ron Dai, Nils, Dani and Natalia and many beautiful friends. The FIMO Birthday party was on 9th of September. Wendy Didi and I wore Sari with polymer clay Necklace. We want to look beautiful.
Our table was booked with the name labeled and I was so happy to see my name. After some time of celebrating FIMO 50th Birthday they announced and called Wendy Didi and me on stage on behalf of our ladies from Samunnat Nepal. They donated 8004 Euro and I was very happy and my eyes were full of tears. We appreciate their generous support and empowering us. We told the friends how we planned to use this amazing donation. It was a very big night with lots of fun like fire works which I had never seen it before and delicious meals and drinks. The party was too late till 1 o’clock night but I don’t realize that time passed so quickly.
My whole time was full of excitement, meeting with lovely friends, touring and trying new dishes and I enjoyed gelato and the German pastries. Entire my journey would be impossible without the friends at Staedtler and Wendy Didi and Malcolm Dai. Every moment that I have spent in Germany I am very thankful to them. I can only do this with positive and supportive generosity and thoughts of beautiful friends of Samunnat and we love to give them big thank for whole Journey that I made it.
Once again thank you very much to Susanne, Nils, Dani, Natalia, Victoria, Kerstin, Peggy and Charlie.
Part 3 talks about what we plan to do with the Staedtler donation!
(Both parts of the report feature the wonderful photos of Georg Dinkel who was the official photographer. Thank you Georg for permission to use these gorgeous photos!)
One morning when I was reading my emails I got this beautiful and very exciting email from Susanne of the Staedtler company. It was telling me they were going to donate some money to Samunnat and they would like to invite me and Wendy Didi to visit as guest of honor to their FIMO50 celebration in Nuremberg, Germany. I screamed so loud that my husband asked What’s wrong and I told him there was an invitation. He was very happy and encouraged me to go ahead.
It was not easy just to say Ok I am going. Because I am Nepali, I have all the process for applying visa and had to wait till the embassy trusted me that I would come back to Nepal. In the process for visa Wendy Didi, Ron Dai and Susanne helped by writing letters to the Germany embassy. Everything went well and I eventually got the visa and set up the dates with Wendy Didi.
I was nervous to fly on my own but we fixed with Wendy Didi and Malcolm Dai that we are going to meet at Munich airport MC Donald’s because I would see it. I flew in 31st of August from Nepal to Germany. It was a big opportunity and also big deal for me. I did my preparation before the time. It was really making me excited and bit anxious.
Lots of question were rising in my mind. How things will be? Do I get there? It was my genuine feeling because I belong from eastern part of Nepal I am not use to the western developments. The elevators, big shopping Malls, Very big cities, wider roads and so many other things all computerised. My family escorted me till the international airport of Nepal and my journey began to Munich in the Qatar airways. I was really very scared and trying to find someone who could help me. Finally a beautiful little girl and her family who was next to my seat helped me to find the my destination.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of Kopila’s big adventure tomorrow!
These four gorgeous women – Pramila, Sita, Samjhana and Rita- have all just been on a big adventure. Last month, the wonderful artists from the Orkney retreat at Shrinemont made us a very generous donation. The ladies decided to use some of the money to travel to Kathmandu, a 20+ hour bus trip…a challenge. For a long time, we have wanted to visit Thimi Ceramics, to learn about their wonderfully run organisation. Then we were invited to attend the launch of Nepali Menstrupedia. Quite some time ago, we were researching ways to best get information about sexual health and menstruation to our community. We discovered that an Indian publication was being translated by an organisation called Putali and we contacted them and asked to be kept informed about the progress. We were invited to the launch of the books which included the screening of a movie about chaupadi where women are banished from the home while they have their periods and every Winter, women die from exposure as a result.
Read what the ladies said about their trip.
We thought the Program of Putali Nepal was very good because it made us aware of our health and safety. We did not know everything about our menstruation. The organization has developed a comic book for all the teenage girls but it was very helpful to us too. We will read this book to our little sisters too.
(This photo at the right shows the ladies showing some of our jewellery at the launch! People were very interested in what they wore!)
The program was so special because the organizer of the program arranged the taxi for us to go back to the hotel because it was very late for us after the event. We learned why women in the western part of Nepal are so vulnerable when they got their period. They have to stay in the cowshed during the period and this is called chaupadi. We really appreciate the work done by the organisation because the book will help every girls of our society.
We also went to Thimi Pot making place. The work they are doing is very beautiful and very creative. The management was very organized and the way they keep the pots are very Systematic. The work of Thimi was totally based on local mud and we feel if we could stayed there for some time we could easily learn more that would be good for polymer clay.
We felt very proud of our work which is very unique so we loved our work and also we admire Thimi work too. Our tour was so effective because even though we were nervous about travelling to Kathmandu, we learned to be independent. We got awareness of our menstruation and learnt from the organized work of Thimi. We all Tour group wants to thank you to Samunnat family Friends and specially the Orkney group who made this trip possible. We spent some of the donation to buy 25 of the comic books about menstruation. Thank you also to Wendy Didi for inspiration to make the trip and make an effective journey.
It is almost two years ago I attended one IPCA conference in Malta. One of the workshops of Tracy Holmes I always remember. The class was about the colour wheel. I tried to understand as much as I could but my problem was language. It was in English and I was struggling to get the clue of the colour. But in that class I started to get the sense of the colour. Two years later, last week, Wendy Didi came with the box of cards and I thought it might be the playing cards or may be some other purpose. It was the Breakthrough Colour Cards by Tracy Holmes. Wendy open the cards and started to stick on the wall and I was looking for the major colours. The first colour Cyan, then Magenta and yellow. Then our brain started to spin with these secondary colours and connecting colours. Every day we had our quiz and we try to guess the colours from the numbers and then we match the cards.
We also learned the new words from the colours like Hue, value, Tint, Shade and Tone. These words are now in our lips so we pronounce as our words like Nepali. Now where ever we see the colour we start to think what numbers they are. We thought the timber of the next door was painted with 455 and the wall 400. We had lots of fun with our lipstick, guessing the colour codes. We all choose our favourite colours and said if they were tint, tone or shade. We all liked colours in Cyan and Magenta families!
Tomorrow we are celebrating our New year 2073 so ignored the 7 and decided that 203 would be the colour of the year. We all guessed it would be a cool green Tint. We hope this colour represent the best year for us. We really don’t want another year like last year again.
We would like to give a big thank to two people who have given us so much sense of colours: Tracy Holmes and our lovely Wendy Didi who gave very easy way of explaining where we could understand very easily. Thank you very much Didi.
We have been making lots of beads like these. We love every part of making them except…the sanding! We sand in such big quantities and wanted an alternative to days and days of sanding by hand. Last week, when she came Wendy bought a vibratory tumbler in her bag to our office. It is a big purchase for us. Even though it was so well packed, it was broken from its journey. When a bad thing happens, we sometimes say Well, no one has died to keep things in perspective. We were very disappointed though. We looked all over Birtamod for parts that could replace the broken pieces but there were none. We thought we would have to keep sanding our beads with our hands for another five months.
Then Deepak, who comes to our cooperative came to help us and he looked every where. He found some springs and Wendy said they would fit. We were so nervous when we waited for the electricity to be on so we could see if the new springs worked. We all stood around and Wendy showed us how it came on when the electricity comes on. We were so happy when it was noisy and working! We put in some old, cracked beads to practise and whenever we had power, we turned the tumbler on. The beads were so smooth after many hours and we decided to put in our real beads. They were very smooth and when we polished them they look so beautiful and we are very happy. We are so grateful to Deepak for keeping on looking for what we needed. We gave him the cap that Andrew and Leah* sent us and some sweets.
*Our vibratory tumbler is this one from Aussie Sapphire Lapidary Warehouse. Andrew and Leah have been really helpful getting us set up with this and are sending some different springs which will be wonderful!
Our dear blog readers know that the polymer journeys of the ladies of Samunnat have changed lives. Tomorrow Wendy didi is coming to stay with us again and we will have many things to plan and talk about and some big things to celebrate.
We think we will have to have a party when we read the digital version of Polymer Journeys by Sage Bray. It will be the 14th April and if we have internet on that day we will be able to read it together! We are excited because some of our pieces are in the book with many other artists from all over the world.
We will be so proud and so interested to see all the other artists.
We would all like to say a very loving and happy Holi to all the people who read our blog and send us love and good wishes and encouragement. You are the people who put the colour into our life and we are very happy! Holi is celebrated on the day after the full moon in the month of Phalgun and it is a day of merrymaking. It is to celebrate the start of Spring and various events in Hindu mythology. We played with the colours and had lots of fun as you can see from this photo where we are all waving to you.
It was a specially happy Holi for one of our newest bahini haru. She had been having a very difficult time. She had been given in an arranged marriage to a man with abnormal behaviours. She was alone and isolated in his house and very vulnerable. When she returned so frightened to her own home, she was not treated well by her sister-in-law. She was alone and could trust no-one. She always looked so sad and scared. Even when she first came to Samunnat office, she could not trust us and every time she cries and her eyes would get wet.
But after meeting and staying with the ladies of Samunnat she flourished and laughed when she got admitted into a highly reputed beauty parlour training and she is really really happy. We think you can feel it even from her photo.
Recently a friend from Durgapur, a town west of us, asked me to give a one day advocacy class. She wanted me to tell about the work of Samunnat and the help that Samunnat could give to women in her area who were in situations of violence. I didn’t just want to talk about violence but about empowering ALL women to help one another.
The lady was the President of the local JCI group and she organised the hall and khaja (snacks). We invited women from all around the area of Surungar which is 15 kms away from our office. I decided to discuss three topics related to women’s rights and asked three of my colleagues to help me. We had my lawyer friend, Bhim; my entrepreneur friend, Sabitra; and myself. We were so surprised by how many people were interested in the topics of the class. I didn’t want it to be boring but useful and realistic. I hadn’t expected that the number of participants would be this many!
The first hour Bhim told the women about property rights of women in Nepal. It was very interactive. The women could talk about their problems and understanding the law of the courts.
The second hour we played a Brainstorming Game which the women enjoyed very much. Sabitra gave the women ideas about how to start their own home based income businesses and earn the income. She talked about how they could sell vegetables, milk, dhoop (incense) and home made pickles.
In the last hour, I talked about the laws against domestic violence and described how our bahini-haru (sisters) are fighting together so bravely. I heartily requested them that if they wanted to do something for women that we had to stand together and start with helping each other and loving each other. Not thinking big things to make our selves bigger. I said, Let’s get ready and tell people we will tolerate no more violence against women.
The participants were so impressed and many wanted to follow up by contacting Samunnat or phone us. This is an important part of my work for Samunnat.
The day before International Womens’ Day I thought we would celebrate this event just quietly, having some snacks with the Bahini haru during Khaja (meal) time. But the next day, a friend rang me and said she was invited to a women’s program, and I changed my mind and thought we should do some thing new to celebrate.
I told the ladies not to bring their Khaja from home. For our meal, we all had Khaja from Kausila’s Khajaghar. They were very happy.We invited two ladies from different parts of the media. One was from local radio FM station and the other was a local journalist. Our main goal was to help our ladies feel free to interact with them and share what empowerment meant to them. I quietly sat and made some cards which they would choose randomly with topics they could act out or talk about, giving their views. [This is a twist on a traditional Nepali picnic activity where people choose a card randomly and act out something funny].
When the program started the ladies were very excited. We introduced ourselves and each lady chose a card and responded to what it said. Some of the tasks were very funny. Our dear Sita had to jump like a frog and Gita had to hold her hair and dance. Some were more serious with the aim to make people think. Ambika had to act as a very shy bride defending her rights against hostile in – laws. But the very good outcome was that they interacted very confidently with our invited guest. At the end of the program Kausila gave us delicious momos and we all enjoyed Sangam sweets and fruits.
Dherai ramailo thiyo! (It was very enjoyable!)