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It is even harder now than ever before to earn a living if you are a single mother in Nepal. But our ladies are resilient and resourceful. They keep trying to be independent and strong. For as long as possible, Samunnat Nepal is paying the ladies a small COVID-19 allowance to help them with expenses and we are so grateful to those of you who have donated money to support us as we do this.
Our ladies who are living in the Samunnat house came up with a way to earn a small income and it is making batti…the cotton wicks that we use in our lamps and temples for doing puja. There are a few different ways to make the batti and our ladies are using cotton thread which they twist and spin into the wicks. These photos show the wicks being made and used!
Our tailoring ladies were relieved and delighted when one local supermarket ordered 300 shopping bags. They had not had any work during the lockdown.
Our lockdown is over but the virus rages on and there is a lot of dissatisfaction with how it is being managed by the government. Nearby towns get locked down for short periods when case numbers increase and we are all still very scared about how things will go. We know we are not alone in that. We send our love to you all and hope that our dear friends stay well. Basnuhos.
For over 13 months we have been so busy making jewellery. During the year, we were making beads, doing lessons and learning, having fun with the Colourful Journey travellers and there were many more things to do. But in that busy schedule we almost forgot to clean and organise our beautiful work studio. We were so dedicated and willing to make our jewellery for Friends of Samunnat to sell but then we were reminded that there was still a really important thing to do!! We realised that tidying and cleaning and organising was so important and that we had to make some time for it!
Today we all worked so hard participating in our cleaning. Pramila thinks our room even looks different and is glad because we know what we are short of and what we need to get more of. Sano Rita is happy because everyone was so involved and engaged. Anu could feel the tidiness and our smooth beads and pieces. Usually Samjhana is the first to the office to clean but today she had helpers! Manisha was amazed to see how many different beads we made and thought it was useful to be able to see this. Ambika thinks that cleaning and keeping the beads in order will save us time in the future. Lalita’s view is that health wise it is so important to clean. In Sita’s opinion, we should be doing quarterly cleaning [Yeah Sita!!! Ed] Sharmila, Deepa and Sunita are glad that Wendy Didi reminded us about our cleaning. Overall we feel very relaxed and new and clean in our lovely organised work room today!
We couldn’t resist that little pun! We already recycle polymer. All the scrap of our raw polymer is used to make new beads and our cracked beads are for curtains. We have been thinking about packing Samunnat jewelry in cotton fabric and paper for quite a few years but until recently we were still using plastic clear bags. I (Kopila) was not happy using plastic bags so our ladies started making fabric and paper bags to trial them to replace using plastic.
We wanted them to be eco friendly and to re-use our waste materials. Our ladies are donating their thin old saris and dopattas (scarves). We don’t buy papers at all and are using news papers which are donated by our neighbours. So we are trying and educate ourselves to use to the maximum our old stuff and stay within our budget. We realised that every month we were sending more than 100 plastic bags to Australia and other countries and we were polluting the environment. So now we have made Eco friendly packing bags. It may take time for Wendy didi and our buyers to open and count but we are looking forward for comments and make those bags easier to use. We think this is better than creating more waste in the world. One day we would love to be ZERO waste.
Nearly five years ago we had some ladies making pads to sell as an income generation idea. They made and sold pads using recycled fabric. It went OK but was not the big success we hoped. Sometimes we think we have to wait to the right time for things to work. We plant seeds and can’t always decide when they will grow.
We stayed really passionate about giving older women who were using sari squares a good alternative and influencing young girls who were using ready made pads to use recyclable fabric pads. Our main objective was to save expenses for vulnerable women and to stop pollution of ready made pads. Recently one day Sarah didi gave us gift of enterprise kits made by Days for Girls. It was so good and didn’t leak like many fabric pads. There was a good information sheet for young girls about their periods. Our ladies who were sewing pads were using old fabric and old quilt covers but saw that these ones were very effective. We did some research and found that definitely girls will buy these pads even though they were more expensive to make than the ones we were making. The two young girls in our photo were very happy to buy our pads.
In talks we do all around the community, we help them to realise that every month a girl has to buy two packets of ready made pads which costs NRs 1700/- (approx AUD21…a lot for a young girl in Nepal!) but if they spend less money on the fabric pads they will last for three years! And when they use the ready made pads where do they throw them? Where is the waste all going and how much is it making pollution? Inspired by knowing that we could sell the pads, I spoke with DfG Nepal Enterprise office in Kathmandu and have visited the office. I have took our sewing ladies to Kathmandu for to see the office and we talked with them about being Enterprise of Samunnat Nepal ladies in Jhapa. Now DfG International accepted our application and we will start the training so soon. We are very excited about this partnership with DfG and the training and support we will have from them.