It’s been a while, already over a month since returning from Nepal, but maybe some of you have followed what we’ve been up to via Instagram (quickest for little real-time updates)? April this year in Nepal, now 2079, was a bit different from our previous trips; for one the school year just finished after the exams so there was no opportunity to help out with teaching. But it was great to be at one of the schools for the last day of the exams. Their exams are quite intense so the kids were really happy to start their holidays. The situation over the last two years has meant that a lot of children in Nepal have missed huge parts of their education, as online studying is commonly either difficult or non-existent. Not all families have any kind of technological equipment or connection. Some might just share an old phone within the family, obviously not ideal for online lessons. Not everybody has a parent who can educated them either. Some might have older siblings who can perhaps help to some extent with home work, but it’s still not easy. Many children have ended up spending more time helping out around their house and in the fields. Anyway, at Jogimori, following their exams, their next task was to clean up the school yard, pulling out weeds and picking up rubbish (sad to see it ending up in the river…but it’s not only the children who need to learn more about the implications of this…but that will be another chapter), after which they all got some new (donated) clothes that we had brought. Thank you everybody who donated such nice clothes and shoes for us to bring to Nepal. Everybody was really happy!
For our latest initiative, in collaboration with Alliance Nepal we wanted to fund something that could develop in to a more long-lasting project, and decided that a sewing course for young girls would be a good idea. The intention is that by having a skill it will create an opportunity for them to become more independent and have their own income. We had $3000 from our Christmas markets, concert and from all the generous donations, and as always every penny goes directly toward charity activities. So together with Krishna we bought 4 sewing machines for $460 (not bad!), scissors, thread, zips, etc. for about $30. Later we also bought fabric and some other necessary items. We had to hire a mini jeep lorry ($25) to bring it all up to the remote location on the hillside in Sarangkot. A friend of Krishna’s is kindly letting us use their house, which is located near the children’s home (that we have also supported), so for the first week we all stayed up there and helped out both at the sewing course and at the orphanage. To start off with, Bimala (Krishna’s wife) who herself did a sewing course in the past, taught the girls the basics; how to thread and operate the machine, and they got to practice sewing on paper. A month on, we now have a professional teacher, who we are confident will be able to teach the girls how to make some really cool bags, purses and other items. Currently 4 local girls come every day between 10 and 4pm, and in the afternoons some of the girls from the children’s home join in. The idea is that once they start producing, they’ll be able to sell the items in local tourist shops in Pokhara as well as at our markets, which, in addition to some income for themselves, will help to support the children’s home. The children’s home is already set up to grow their own vegetables, and they will also be producing ginger and turmeric to sell at local markets when harvested in the autumn. As the girls become more proficient, they will hopefully be able to pass on the skills to others, and there are already some other local girls interested in joining them, but most of them are still at school for the moment (which is obviously priority), so we will see how this will be arranged as time goes on. For now, this is such a great venture, and we feel it can give these girls long term prospects that they otherwise wouldn’t have.
The professional tailor is $225 per month, so our budget will be able to cover this for at least a few months. We also paid Bimala for the first month, and we have bought fabric and some other necessities, like a carpet for the house (it was an earth floor), and hope to install electricity soon. We’ll keep you posted! With continued fundraising activities we hope to be able to keep it going. The main regular outgoing will be buying fabric and materials, and deliveries up and down the mountain. Perhaps we will be able to buy an overlocker sewing machine at some point. And then of course, we hope they will also start making money to cover ongoing expenses.
Remember Belmaya, and the film I am Belmaya that we were showing at the schools last year? Many of you may have seen it too by now? As always, it was great to show this film again to some of the 12+year old girls in the village. They are always so excited and inspired at the end of it (see our videos with feedback from the girls). A couple of weeks ago we held a premier online screening of the film in Scandinavia. The positive feedback is just overwhelming. Hope you can all watch it one day, it’s a fantastic film which shows you what life is commonly like for a girl in Nepal. Please check out Iambelmaya.com for a full synopsis, trailers and more information on the film, including how, if you wanted to could watch it or screen it yourself, and at the same time contribute towards education for girls.
The gallery will be updated with more photos from the latest visit to Nepal, and on Instagram you can stay up to date with how the sewing project goes (and other things). It’s only thanks to people like you who help us, that we are able to make this possible. So a massive thank you, for your interest, for your support and for reading this. Wish you all a lovely summer!