a colourful journey

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Check our blog (or subscribe for updates) to keep up with the latest things happening here at Samunnat Nepal.  We have our latest news, lovely photographs, product launches, guests posts from some of our ladies and opinion pieces as well.  We’d love to hear your comments too.


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Samunnat Nepal’s Kids’ Centre

On Instagram and Facebook we have been posting photos of our Kids’ Centre.  This has been work in progress for quite some time now. We know that for many women affected by violence, getting training or attending court is really hindered by lack of child care.  In a good situation, women have the support of extended family but most of our ladies are not in a good situation!  We want to provide them with the opportunity to access affordable and quality child care. Montessori based child care centres are springing up like mushrooms in Nepal and Birtamod is no exception. Some of these are great and some of these are run purely as businesses. Just like many schools and hospitals here.  Most are way beyond the means of our ladies.

We decided to transform our downstairs room into a child care centre. Samunnat Nepal helped Maya to do her Montessori training In Kathmandu and she is ready to start work. Muna, another Samunnat client, is able to be an assistant and an itinerant artist was happy to paint a mural for board and chiya.  She got Kalpana and Bishnu involved too!

We worked out policies and costs and requirements and after months of the work the first enrolments have been taken! We have a capacity for ten children and there is the potential for occasional child care as well. We love hearing the sounds of the kids as they play downstairs and Manisha, one of our clay artists, loves the convenience of having her little one close and well care for!  In this photo she is completing her registration forms.

Our dream is to have a purpose built child care centre but this is a way off. We would like to combine it with more accommodation as we are now filled to capacity and the need for short-medium term accommodation is increasing.  But that is a whole other post!

Empowered by training

Most people know that some ladies who come to Samunnat Nepal learn to make jewellery with polymer clay. This is just a small group! Our ladies do lots of different trainings! With our support, some of our ladies go to Kathmandu where we work with Apeiron Nepal. These ladies might do bakery training, sewing training, hospitality training or even Montessori teacher training. One of our ladies who went to Kathmandu is Durga. She now runs her own tailoring business and a training school to teach basic sewing skills!  She has a printed sign which tells everyone that this is Samunnat Nepal’s Ladies’ Tailors Training School!

More locally, our ladies can learn mobile phone repairs, beauty parlour therapists and accountants. In Ganga, Sita* and Muna are at Neeldavid’s Beauty Parlour training for two months and then hope to return to their smaller villages to earn some income doing beauty parlour.





We try to help the ladies do training they are interested in and always ask how sustainable this will be.  Sometimes we do the training ourselves and sometimes be buy training. Sometimes people want us to buy their expensive training courses for our ladies but there is no guarantee of jobs and people don’t think about whether or not there is an oversupply. The money is just for the trainer and organisation providing the training but it might not help US.  We have to always be thinking of this and evaluating offers about training.  We want to give the women skills so they will be competitive even with the men. Our goal is that they don’t have to wait fro the men to offer the jobs but can create their own and be entrepreneurs!  Soon we will tell you the story of Normal who is almost finished her training in Kathmandu. With the help of a loan form the Cooperative, the is courageously starting her own business. It all works together!!

Angels for America

Well, we got a new look and then haven’t posted since!  But we have been very busy.  Over the next few weeks, we will strive to post more regularly. As I type, Kopila is in Kathmandu (after a 20 hour bus trip) where she is meeting with an editor and printer to get our book closer to publication.  She is also hoping to discuss some training options for our ladies and buy another oven! She will have a very busy time.

One of our dreams is to get some more training for some of our polymer clay ladies We have been discussing this with some of our American friends and are hoping to send two or three ladies to the US in early 2018 for some one on one training with a few artists there. Obviously this is a BIG and AMBITIOUS dream but we are already starting to work towards it!!!  We have made some beautiful angels we hope that you will buy to help us raise money. If you go to our shop you can (at the moment) choose from the Sunset, Sunshine, Midnight or Moss range. The angels are made using recycled saris so each range is limited.  A note from the artist is included in the small drawstring thauli purse that you receive your angel in.  You don’t order a specific angel but will receive one of the angels from the range you select. All are gorgeous and carry the personality of their maker!

Our angels cost AUD40 plus postage and this money will go to a fund to help us get two of our most experienced artists and Kopila to the US! We are hoping President Trump will be as excited as we are about the possibility and welcome our ladies’ visit with open arms.

Our new look!

For the past six months, two incredibly patient young men have been helping us to revamp our website and set up two Samunnat Nepal shop sites, including a wholesale one. This is to help us be as independent and efficient as possible. Over seven years ago, Cynthia Tinapple set up our site and has encouraged and nurtured it and us ever since. Most of the ladies in the photo of us looking at that site had never seen a computer when we first showed them their website. And now we have our own iPad and some of us are Instagram savvy! We have come a long way.

Ned and Jason from Wedje Designs have spent lots of time helping us to work out what we need and setting up a site that works responsively with us.  We are thrilled to finally be launching it!  Suffice it to say, there will be teething issues and we do ask you to bear with us and alert us to any of those teething issues that you find!  I have no doubt that errors that do exist are most likely to be mine (Wendy!) and not theirs.

As most of you know, the money we use to help women comes primarily from our wholesale jewellery sales and loose bead sales via Kazuri West.  Thanks to Ned and Jason, we now have a small shop attached to the site. Items in this shop are usually on sale, one of a kind and/ or discontinued stock.  You won’t find the items we sell to our lovely wholesale buyers but we provide a list of shops stocking that jewellery on our shop page! This will be our only shopfront as our etsy shop is now closed.

We are now open for Christmas shopping!  If you buy something from the shop before mid November it will be sent immediately but, from mid November until just before Christmas the sahuni (shopkeeper) is back in Nepal, so nothing will be mailed from then until after Christmas! Do bear this in mind when you shop.

So…this has been a huge amount of work but we hope worthwhile in the long run!  Please enjoy exploring our updated site and thanks you being part of the journey!

Part 3: What will we do with the FIMO donation?

img_5831At 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 everyimg_0389 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 Nepaliimg_0387 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 someimg_0411 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. fullsizerenderWendy 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! img_5230We 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.

A Colourful Journey

A Colourful Journey