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Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Post-Earthquake Update

One of our classes
What We’re Up To

First of all, we would like to thank all of you for your generosity, concern and well wishes in the aftermath of the terrible earthquake that struck Nepal last month. The aftershocks are continuing and there’s more work to be done, but we’re so grateful that our supporters came through for the country and people we love with donations and messages of hope.

Fortunately for our staff and women’s groups, WELNepal is headquartered in Chitwan — a lowland area largely unaffected by the quake and subsequent tremors. A lot of our people have friends and families who lost livestock and homes and we’re continuing to reach out for support on behalf of those who are suffering. That said, we also know how important it is to continue spreading literacy and independence in our project area and that’s just what we’re doing.

Here’s a little rundown of what we’ve been up to lately.

From left to right: Santos, Sita and Man Bahadur
Madi, previously inaccessible during monsoon season, now has a bridge connecting it to the rest of Nepal. Hydro polls are also being constructed so the district can finally receive electricity.  Madi is joining the 21st century and we want the women to be ready.  Of course adding roads may take a little longer, but progress is progress and we’re thrilled.  

This year, 10 groups will be involved in our six-month Advanced Literacy class and we have started eight new eight-month Basic Literacy classes. Sadly, we had to turn down many more groups due to budgetary restrictions.  It is very difficult to have to tell women that they will have to stay illiterate and alone until next year, when we hope to collect enough funds for them to learn to read and write in their language for the first time in their lives. 

Continuing Education Classes

Our weekly “book club” project is gaining popularity. This year, we are funding 11 groups from the 16 groups of women that completed our two-year literacy course last year.  There were also nine other groups of women who completed a government literacy course who asked to take part. Continuing Education involves women meeting once a week to read pertinent articles and discuss them.  Can you imagine the discussion taking place when the women read a story and learn about women like Malala Yousafzai? 

WELNepal’s Bursary Program

WELNepal continues to financially support young women who are gifted scholars but come from families that are either too poor to fund their higher education or believe that a girl’s place is not in school. This year, WELNepal is helping 26 students stay in school and out of unwanted arranged marriages.

Bursary students Laxmi, Anita and Kabita
Income Generating Programs

All of our women’s groups want to make money. Money buys freedom and that is what the women want.  We know that women use the money to better the lives of their children because studies show that women spend close to 90 per cent of their money on their families.

Our pesticide/insecticide-free farming project is a great success.  Out of the 12 groups we funded to grow and sell their produce, eight are flourishing. Some of the women’s groups are renting bigger plots of land to grow and sell their produce and some groups are finding new ways of marketing their vegetables.  One group even loaned out their profit at interest. That’s the entrepreneurial spirit! Our women’s groups are also making, growing and selling candles, soaps and mushrooms. We’re also pleased to report that the women involved in our sewing machine project, generously supported by WELNepal’s good friend L.M. Clark Customs Broker Ltd, are doing well.

Insecticide/pesticide-free farming group from Kathar
As important as making money is, what’s most amazing is how these women are working together, making plans, setting rules and sticking to them. The seeds of organization are well planted along with their carrots and onions. Sadly, WELNepal does not yet have the financial resources to help the growing number of women who desperately need and want our help. Every year, we have to tell more women to wait another year for literacy and income-generating training. With a little bit of help from everyone, we might be able to expand our programs and help all the interested women immediately. To gift the gift of literacy, please donate. A little goes a long way in Nepal.