Keep up to date with A Colourful Journey:
There has been great excitement in Birtamod-for a variety of reasons. We are almost half way through our Newstart training program and it has been wonderful. The ladies haven’t let anything stop them from coming and to our absolute delight, we have had no one dropping out.
And the other causes of our excitement? Well, in no particular order…
We have had our first “official” European order for our jewellery via ACP, the Association of Craft Producers. ACP marketers took our products to a Fair Trade Fair recently where they were greeted with great enthusiasm. Many samples were taken and one on the spot order to the Netherlands made. We are still trying to stockpile but this seems a somewhat elusive goal!
We are having some special visitors. Next week, Rhonda and Geoff Coleman who have been wonderful supporters from Australia are arriving (strikes permitting!) and we are really looking forward to showing them around. We hope they will get to see the income generation training in action!Then, a couple of days after that, the Australian Ambassador, Susan Grace and Sanjana Pradhan, the DAP coordinator for the Embassy, along with Susan’s husband, are coming to visit. Like Rhonda and Geoff, they are braving the unpredictability of the east and we are delighted that they are making the effort. We’ll post photos and details of both visits next time!
In the proposal form for the funding, one of the questions asked was “How do you think your project will impact on the wider community?” Based on our experience, we knew that women would be enthusiastic in sharing what they had learnt with others but still weren’t quite prepared for how powerfully that could happen. We already have a waiting list for our next training program, based on word of mouth recommendations from the ladies currently training and a life has been changed.
Kalpana is from a remote border community and is doing the tailoring and cutting training as well as the two day a week advocacy/ human rights etc training. She heard of a family in her village who have a blind daughter. Two men on a motorbike came to town and offered the parents NRs 50 000 and the promise of “treatment overseas”. All they had to do was sign a form allowing this girl to be adopted.
Kalpana was suspicious as she had just learnt about the laws relating to adoptions and disability but decided to check things out rather than take them on immediately. She approached the two men and said that she was a poor woman with two children and that she was interested in having them adopted. She wanted to know about the process. “No process,” they answered. She just needed to sign the paper and take the money.
She persisted. Surely there must be other paperwork? No they assured her. No paperwork. This confirmed for Kalpana that the whole thing was illegal and she told them they had better leave or she would call the police. Apparently they left before she finished the sentence!
This little girl would most probably have been used as a beggar in India. Her parents were very grateful to Kalpana as they were suspicious too but torn at the thought that they may have been denying their daughter healing treatment.
When Kalpana shared her story in the Conflict Resolution class, there was spontaneous clapping and cheering. Deservedly so!
Two days of each week of training are spent all together learning about human rights, health, the law, advocacy and a range of other things. Then, on Tuesday, we break up into four groups for the specific income generation learning. And recently, chilies have dominated.
In the kitchen the ladies have learnt to make achar (pickles) under the watchful eye of Anju didi, our pickle queen. Pickles are now made, bottled and labelled and this week is sales and marketing training where Anju will take the ladies to learn tha art of door to door sales. Next week they get stuck into dhoop (incense) so the smells emanating from that room will be different.
Here is Anju, our achar didi and some of the products.
In the front room, the polymer clay ladies have also been surrounded by chilies! We are making chilies to learn how to do a Skinner blend and also because we will be sending a range of Chili Jewellery to ACP to see if they want to buy some.
If the reaction from the ladies here is anything to go by, we are onto a winner. We are in the middle of making chili earrings for each participant so they will be perfect for general consumption. So to speak.
Here is Pramila bashing her Skinner blend-with love-and creating the Chili Choker!
The tailoring ladies are already making children’s clothes and made their first sale last week! And we make sure we tell the computer training ladies just how much fun we are having!
The photo of this letter was meant to accompany a thank you entry quite some time ago but a technical hitch (can you call a brain malfunction a technical hitch?) meant it didn’t get sent to our wonderful website queen in Ohio.
So, here is a photo of the very heartfelt letter from our board to thank some of the people they wanted to acknowledge more formally. (Click on the letter to see it full-sized.)
Two of the people mentioned are Australians who live here in Nepal and who feel enormously fortunate to have anything to do with Samunnat. Thanks enough in being able to be involved. Two are some of the many wonderful behind-the- scenes people who keep things running smoothly and manage our Friends of Sammunat account in Australia. Two made very generous donations in the early stages; and Cynthia is the designer, originator and ongoing maintainer of our gorgeous website.
To these and all the people who continue to support us in every way, we are deeply grateful. As always, we hope the blog can impart a small part of the sense of energy and excitement we feel when we see the transformation that is happening for women here.
|Small group goal setting discussions. We did have chairs set up but they were abandoned early on.|
|Two participants display their lemon pickles|
|Punctual participants with our banner|
We had been talking and thinking about the training for such a long time. Now the day had arrived. Today was the first day and I was so excited about our training but wondered whether we could reach there on time. [Editors note: a valid concern. She does try to squeeze a lot into the morning!]
Unfortunately, as usual, I was late. [Ed: Not by some local standards]
When we started, we organised the time and began the program in an informal way. Gopal welcomed the ladies and Wendy didi lit the candle and we all introduced ourselves. Then we had a meditation training. I had never felt so excited working in the office before. Even though some ladies were from far away, they all came punctually as promised. It gave me the energy to work more. [Ed’s note: This is a somewhat daunting thought! Kopila works amazingly hard] I really don’t feel tired.
Our first week was very emotional and the ladies were very thoughtful. Each lady had excitement on her face. An interesting thing was when we had the “Ice Breaking” session and they laughed and enjoyed the activities. I felt that, for the first time in a long time, they had the chance to open up and see a light of hope. In the break time they all wanted to exchange their feelings with one another.
During all the planning and preparation still I felt I was juggling so many things and I wondered if it would all happen. So now, first week is finished. I feel more relaxed about the rest of the training!
The month has been a busy one-even without the diversions of New Year. For most people here it is mid 2066 and very cold. We all looked a bit like the Michelin man at our board meeting with our many layers of clothing.
We have done lots of work as the final arrangements for the training program come together.
A few days ago, Kopila and I ran the Goal Setting component of the training for most of the board members. They politely asked to hear it all. We did in one day what will take much longer in reality. They were a wonderful trial audience and were very encouraging.
With so many women interested in the program, the job of the board becomes identifying the women from our target population who will most benefit from this round of training. We are getting a strong message that we will need to repeat this course.
We are excited by the commitment and energy of our trainers. They share our passion for training that has real measurable outcomes and working with them has been wonderfully inspiring. Debita, our cutting and tailoring trainer is pictured here.
We continue to be encouraged by the generosity of people who want to help and particularly want to thank the following contributors for their very generous recent donations:
- Rhonda and Geoff Coleman
- Bev and John McLaren
- Bert and Leslie Washington
Blog entries may be “pithier” than usual for the next month or so (which some of you may consider a blessing) as we will be somewhat distracted and busy. Bear with us and we will try and keep you up to date with photos at least.