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The busier we are, the fewer blogs we write! But now we will have #7daysofsamunnatblogs!!
Recently I (Kopila) met with 27 girls of ages 11-19. I was invited to speak by a Womens’s Cooperative to a group of school girls and some others in Surunga which is 15km west of our home. They wanted the girls not to be vulnerable to trafficking and unsafe sex situations. I want them to know about our law and their rights. Most of the girls were in High School but two girls were studying class 6 in Primary school. I felt very sad of one girl of age 12 who was not studying and who looked very vulnerable.
I kept things informal and we introduced ourselves and were sharing. I asked them for their ideas about how to become secure in different situations. I noticed that they tended to hide their problems until torture escalated from psychological and verbal to physical. I tried to tell them not to keep things secret or personal but to tell their parents. I also wanted to let the girls know about changes to the marriage laws in our country. The girls are not just for the purpose of marriage and being married off.
We talked about their future plans and in our really good friendly talking one girl said her dream was to be a journalist. Another wants to join in the police. They all had beautiful dreams. We had invited Akriti with us. She is a Social Work student who is spending some time with us. She had some really good suggestions about keeping yourself safe in changing rooms in the shops. I said to them that they had to be very suspicious of anyone giving them gifts or offers and that they had to find out the correct information and government registration and address of anyone claiming to be professional.
We spent two hours of laughing and talking! Part two tomorrow!!
We were very excited to meet Sarah Bartram. Sarah is our big buyer (distributor) in Australia from long time and she is also a member of Project Didi. We all wanted to know more about what people think of our jewellery when they see it and buy it. We wanted her feedback about how we keep our quality consistent. But most of all, our more important dream was to learn to speak better English.
We always feel very sad that we do not understand and can’t welcome visitors in English. We keep trying for year and most of us decided to get admission in the morning 1 hour English class tuition in language institution. It was very Expensive and not very effective. We learned for 6 months but hardly we could learn good pronunciation.
When Wendy Didi and Kopila Didi said that Sarah is a trained ESL teacher and is coming to teach us English language we were very happy and counted the days looking forward to meet with Sarah. On Sunday January 18th she came to our office. We introduced ourselves in English then Sarah started to make a plan how to learn. She wrote on a chart paper and put it on the wall. We kept on practising our lesson every day. We practised to welcome our guest, tell them about making beads and the specific work on each one, and about the family. We also understand two way conversation. Sarah gave us notebooks and pen to write our lesson. We became such a good friend with Sarah because even though we were not good English speakers, we understood each other’s communication. Those 5 days were very important in our life because now we feel more confident and less shy to speak English. Here is a short video of us all learning.
Sarah’s teaching techniques were so efficient and motivating. We enjoyed every moment that we spent with her. We celebrate Goddess Saraswati puja with her and she also bought some sweets for us. Goddess Saraswati is goddess of education ad learning so this was a good time. Finally we all have realized that if Sarah could come next time for 15 days that would be our big gifts from her.
One morning I got call from one of our old client, Depkala. At age 29 Depkala was widowed with one year old son. She worked very hard breaking stones at the riverside for her survival until she was 48. She always feel so vulnerable and scared of the responsibilities for her son and his further education too.
After some time she met a man who assured her that he would cover all expenses of her son education and give them love too. Depkala knew this was not a love marriage but it was a deal. And she hoped that eventually he will love her. She convinced her son that he had a new father who would support him. Her son liked his new daddy who talked with him and bought him clothes. Things looked like they were finally going to work out for Depkala so they got married in a Mandir (temple) and stayed in Depkala’s small room.
After few months the man changed and started to show his real attitude. Eventually Depkala discovered that he already had two wives and 5 children. Before he told her that his wife and kids had left him. Depkala was desperate and in away still hopeful so stayed with him, and gave him most of the money that she and her son earn as usual breaking stones.
Depkala somehow tolerated the man’s behaviors and his torture but his sexual harassment and violence increased so she decided after 9 years staying with that man to get legal help and came to Samunnat. We have registered her case with the court and are providing legal representation. Even after she came to Samunnat, that man was threatening her and harassing her. Some male villagers were also supporting him and one freezing cold night in Poush (our very cold month) they came and took all the bedding of her and her son. She and her son had to flee to her friends house whole night to escape from the cold.
Early in the morning she rang me and wanted to go to the police to get her stuff back for survival from cold. I knew this would take a long time. I discussed with our ladies of Samunnat they said before going to police the best thing is buy the Sirak quilt and Dashing (white cover). I called Depkala and gave her the money and she bought herself covers and quilts for herself and her son. She is happy to put her photo.
I want to thank every buyer and our jewelry lovers for their compassion and I want them to know that buying polymer is giving life to people in many ways. Even in little ways like buying blankets. I hope when you read our blog it will tells you happiness is in your small efforts.
We are overflowing with plans and ideas and pieces of jewellery sitting around in drawers are not helping us achieve them! So we are having a MASSIVE clearance sale in our online shop with lots of pieces for sale at crazy prices. For Australian shoppers we even have free postage included in already low prices.
And some of the pieces offered are tiny pieces of our history! When we began many years ago, our two initial designs were our beautiful bahini beads and Sundari beads. We adored making our bahini beads. We used a face cane made by Wendy didi. Some of us helped to make the face cane but it was early in our polymer days! We decorated our bahinis (little sisters) in colourful saris and used tiny black and white canes to pattern them. Then we lovingly sanded and polished each bead and strung them with matching seed beads called pote that we wear to show our marriage. One year our bahinis made in scarlet and emerald were sold in the Oxfam catalogue apparently!
And our Sundari beads were made using the mehendi (henna designs) we paint on our hands. We would choose colours that we loved nad then strung the beads with matching pote. We loved making these beads too. As long as our stocks last, these parts of our bead history are available. Get ready for next Christmas early!
In our next few posts we will feature the items being sold and would so encourage you to shop!! We are sorry we can’t offer free postage to our non Australian buyers but all this stock is in Australia right now.
Growing and selling vegetables is a very reliable and sustainable way of earning an income in Nepal and as people get to learn about healthy eating there is more interest in organic vegetables. Some times people think that in Nepal we much grow all our vegetables the organic way and in the old times our forefathers did. More recently though there has been widespread use of pesticides and fertilisers and we have to learn the old ways over again.
I (Kopila) was so proud of three of our ladies Deepa, Ranjana and Ganga who established a flourishing vegetable plot on a small piece of land. They had one day theory course but thought this was not enough. Even so they enthusiastically implemented the lessons they learnt. They started with little amount and starting months of planting the seeds and organically fertilising and looking after the growing vegetables. It was not easy and there were lots of challenges like testing soil, and watering and using natural fertiliser like cow dung.
Even sometimes I was a little sad when i looked at the vegetables and was not sure if they grow or not. Wendy didi and I had been thinking how to make it easier and to give these hard working ladies more confidence and knowledge in Organic gardening. Then Wendy didi found out about Khumultar Agricultural Training Centre in Kathmandu and we decided to send these three very interested ladies for three days theory and practical training.
After doing the training they came home with ideas to apply to their previous garden. They kept looking and using the tools and techniques they learnt and now their small plot is so productive! They have grown 50kg of tomatoes, different kind of saag (like spinach) and 5 kg of chillis. They are still growing beans and pumpkins and so many more ideas to plant more efficiently. They have learnt about seasons and temperatures and what are the suitable crops for the different seasons.
Now they have a wish list for things like water piping, bamboo tunnel and shades. They are planning on building a glass house and we would like to support them. We want to say a special thank you to two people. Firstly to Sarah Bartram who donated many packets of the seeds that the ladies planted. These turned into our productive garden. And also we want to say special thank you to Binod Basnet. In my role, can’t do what I do without the support of this man, my husband. He encourages and helps me. When I am worried, he is always with me and uplifts me. And now, when we are dreaming about having some more land for the ladies to grow their garden, he gives us access to some of his land without rent to turn our dreams into a garden! Dherai Dhanyabad!!!