Samunnat was formed by a group of friends who had each been approached by women in the Jhapa district of Eastern Nepal for help. The women were looking for assistance to escape domestic violence or trafficking.
The friends realised that they could help more by forming a group than they could by assisting individually. Thus Samunnat was formed. The group was registered as a non-government organisation (NGO) in 2007.
The NGO registration number is 1562 and the Social Welfare Council registration number is 26793.
Now many women approach Samunnat because they have heard about the project by word-of-mouth. Some see the activities at the Samunnat office. Others have been referred to Samunnat from government organisations or from the police.
A woman’s involvement with Samunnat averages 12-15 weeks although it can continue for many months. Some women are involved with complicated legal situations and support is provided until there has been a satisfactory conclusion. Others leave because they have been able to establish a safe home for themselves and their children or because family conflict has been resolved or negotiations made.
Most women retain a link with the organisation and some have come back to support others when their time of need has passed. Many want to contribute in some way to the organisation that helped them to get on their feet.
We are very aware that more needs to be done and more opportunities for ongoing employment need to be made available. Samunnat did not set out to be an employing body but would love to be able to foster the development of small businesses set up to provide ongoing, permanent employment to the ladies we have trained. Plans are afoot to establish a women’s tailoring service and a beauty parlour in 2009.
It is a Nepali tradition for women live with their husband’s families. As a result, they are incredibly vulnerable to threats of violence or poverty should they make complaints abut their situation. We are increasingly aware of the need for some women and their children to have access to secure short term accommodation and some source of income so their children can continue at school if the husband’s family withdraws support.
We have seen thwarted, defeated women become visibly stronger after a few weeks of earning an income and working with other women in various stages of the process and they then feel they can face the challenge of standing up for their rights and making better lives for themselves and their children.
Subas has two daughters and is also the Chairman of Samunnat Credit and Co-operative Ltd. He is the Managing Director of Medisales Enterprises, a wholesale pharmaceutical business.
Subas ‘s wife Pushpa, is one of the creative minds behind some of our products. She is modeling an apron on our products page.
Gopal Krishna Khatiwada
Gopal worked as an Admin associate in the civil society anti-corruption project and is also father of two. He is a school Chairman and a life member of the Life Line Help Group (NGO). He is also in Birtamod JCI.
Kul Prasad Baral
Kul Prashad is the Managing Director of Kalika Pharmalink in Birtamod and is also a member of Birtamod JCI.
Jayadharma is the Managing Director of Pashupati Paper Supplies in Birtamod and Director of J.D. and Company, a registered Audit firm.
Yog Prashad Mishra
Yog Prashad worked for many years in an Agricultural Development bank as a facilitator and Project Manager. He currently works as a Manager in the Samunnat Saving and Credit co-operative Ltd.
Kopila has three daughters and has been trained in law and worked in the media and government organisations. She is the Program Coordinator of Samunnat and also provides much of the legal assistance in property and, less often, criminal cases.
Malati lives in Khakarbitta, west of Birtamod, and works in domestic services. With her earnings, she purchased her own sewing machine and augments her income making cushions. She gives great advice about translating creative ideas into practice!
Meena received Skills Training from Samunnat in the past and has remained involved as a member. She now lives independently and is employed in domestic work.
Manamaya received boutique sewing training and Beauty Parlour training at Samunnat and she now has a mobile and home based beauty parlour. She will go to people ‘s homes to prepare them for weddings and other events. She is a very regular attendee at Samunnat committee meetings.
Wendy is an Australian woman living in eastern Nepal. A brain injury rehabilitation therapist in Australia, she is currently working as an artist. She is leader of the Samunnat cheer squad and provides some specific skills training and a sounding board!
Samunnat continues to grow thank to the active encouragement of people from all over the world. They provide practical and emotional support and to you all, a huge THANK YOU!!
The women of Jhapa, Nepal
In addition to the members of the committee and supportive people in the local and international community, the other people in the Samunnat family are the ladies that Samunnat seeks to empower.We are very aware that these women bring their own strength, experiences and wisdom to the situations they face.
With support, encouragement and practical assistance, they can face the challenges that are ahead of them.
They have been a part of the development of many programs and their contributions shape product development and the direction of the organisation.
Detailed Objectives and Evaluation
This document makes clear the areas covered in the program and the ongoing evaluation incorporated in program delivery. The objectives of the program are that on completion of the program each woman will understand:
- Her own rights and those of her children. She will be able to advocate for herself within her family (if safe) and with government and community agencies. She will be able to identify resources in her local community for ongoing support or assistance to achieve her life goals. She will be able to explain to new program participants basic human rights information and how that applies to them.
- The meaning of personal advocacy. She will have applied critical thinking skills to a number of situations in group and individual counselling and will be assisted in making confident and thoughtful decisions about what is or isn’t useful in her own situation.
- The legal system as it relates to her situation, the roles of different people and the processes involved. This will be evidenced by her capacity to move through the process with increasing independence and an ability to seek support from appropriate agencies.
- Her reproductive system and reproductive health. She will know how to avoid, or obtain treatment for, sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies. She will be able to identify community resources for ongoing support.
- Physical and emotional health and how to maintain this, especially under stressful circumstances.
- Conflict resolution and negotiation. She will be able to identify at least three communication strategies that improve her interpersonal relationships.
- Normal childhood development and the impact of this on a child’s capacity to deal with stress, trauma and change in the family unit. Many children involved with Samunnat have witnessed violence towards their mothers and, in some situations, they have been the target of violence themselves. Sometimes this has contributed to behavioural issues and physical problems.
- Effective parenting and the chance to speak individually with an appropriate health professional about such issues if required. She will be able to identify two pieces of information that she has found helpful in managing her child/childrens’ grief/anxiety/ behaviour.
- Establishing and maintaining a budget. She will receive information about financial management, cooperatives and other community resources.
- Skill development with a realistic possibility of income generation. Each woman will have received basic training in 2-4 areas. She will select from a range of carefully selected training options and complete several in the duration of the course. In an individual counselling context, each woman will develop a realistic and practical goal for independent income generation if appropriate.
We hope that each woman will understand that she is not merely “a victim of violence” but a talented, capable and valuable woman with strong inner resources and access to external resources. She will demonstrate the understanding that she has a right to work towards achieving her own goals and the capacity to do so.