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Wednesday, 27 February 2013

News from Sauraha

Greetings from Nepal!

The women of Badahara

Actually, from my little village of Sauraha. While much has changed in Sauraha, much has stayed the same.  Every year, more hotels and lodges take up space where fields used to be.  Restaurants and t-shirt shops line roads where locals lived in houses made of mud and buffalo dung.  Those villagers knocked down their little houses and built the little shops that are adding income to their family coffers. Good for them!

Scholarship student Binita

Scholarship student Amisha

But some things do not change.  Drivers still have to avoid the ducks and chickens and goats that wander up and down the Sauraha streets. And the stray dogs that annoy the locals but charm the visitors still ply their trade in my little village.  Everyone – man and beast – still has to clear a path for the elephants strolling down the streets with their riders (mahoods) atop their backs. The one thing that NEVER changes here in sunny Sauraha is the kindness and warmth of the local people whose attitudes about visitors have always been positive. 

But it is time to get to work.  We have added two new young students to our scholarship program.  I've included the pretty and happy faces of Binita and Amisha (above).
We will be introducing more women's groups to our literacy class program.  Literacy is the basis and the foundation of women's empowerment here in the lowlands of Nepal. And while the training we provide after literacy is just as important as learning how to read and write, women's empowerment is our ultimate goal.

This year, our major goal is to open a vegetable shop in a small town where the women can sell the organic vegetables that they are doing such a good job of growing.

Two Bhokaha women
I've also included a photo of the women of Badahara (top of page) who, as you can see, are being supported by WELNepal's good friends George and Eva. Speaking of women's empowerment, the women of Badahara have organized their own co-op! They have elected board members and have assigned bookkeepers to keep track of money earned from both their organic produce and mushroom sales. That's what we like to see – organization. I've also included a photo of the two very happy women (right) who are part of a group in Bhokaha who have just harvested a beautiful bushel full of peas are also organized. 

And we intend to hold a meeting with representatives from all 14 of our women's organic farming project groups to discuss and make decisions on how their vegetable shop will operate.

Before I leave you, I want to mention one more project we have in the works. Over the past few years, women's groups from outlying, more remote areas of Nepal have been asking for our help.  Well, this year we plan to help them.  There is an area some distance from here called Mahdi. We’ve been informed of a women's group who are very active and very interested in bettering their lives through any channel possible. For those of you who are old enough to remember old TV shows, we intend to call these women the "Mahdi Squad". We hope to provide help as soon as we can. It may come in the form of literacy classes or organic farming training. Our plan is to meet the women and ask them what we can do to help them.

And finally, you may know that I always say "I wish you could all be here to see what we are doing. To see how your help is helping the women in our working area." Well, this year I will be welcoming Ashley, Anton, Diana, Kim, Barry and Anh to my village. Ashley is WELNepal's copywriter and Anton is her boyfriend. Diana is a huge supporter of our cause and is part of a belly dancing organization that hosts an annual fundraiser for us.  Kim is a new friend and WELNepalian. Barry, who helps us in many ways, is coming to video our work and Anh is coming to help in any way she can.  They are all MOST WELCOME, as are all of you.  

When are you coming?

Time to say goodbye...I've got to go to work.