Last week we ventured north to the Nuwakot district to distribute our latest batch of fair trade sanitary pads, sewn by the women at our center. We decided to head into this region after being notified of a school and village that could really benefit from the sanitary pads distribution and education about feminine health.
We stocked up the taxi early morning, four bags of our planet-strong sanitary pads in the boot of the car and one strapped to the top, as well as one bag of second hand clothes that we could distribute to the village families and medicine given to school and to some family. The way to the Nuwakot region was a scenic, yet bumpy ride heading north of Kathmandu. The taxi struggled at times to get through the damaged roads currently under construction by the local government. Bad roads halt any efforts to provide stable resources to many regions in Nepal, including Nuwakot, which is why we chose this region for the distribution. The gauntlet of muddy, unpaved roads was made worth it when we arrived in the region to witness the beautiful green scenery that resembled a postcard image. The area was clean and almost untouched, with hilly backdrops and blue skies.
Further into the village we saw a mixture of sturdy homes and shelters. Some had rebuilt their homes from the earthquake and others were still living in makeshift shelters. We would later interview some of these families but first we had to visit the school in time for the presentations.
We presented to four classes, from the ages of 10 all the way to 40+, as the teachers sat in to hear us speak about feminine health, the importance of menstrual health and the positive impacts that our reusable pads can have on the environment. The girls were eager to learn and seemed very engaged in the presentation. They thanked us at the end and we successfully distributed over 217 kits to both women and girls in the school.
As we had travelled far, our friend Tom who runs a permaculture farm in Chaughada let us stay in his homestay for the night. This is where we would gather some inspiration for our future farming projects for LOCWOM and learn about permaculture techniques that could benefit future communities that we work with. Tom also offered the property as a meeting place for the next morning where we would distribute the leftover sanitary kits to the women in this small village in Chaughada.
We rested after a long day and the next morning woke up early to go for a walk through the village, speaking with the locals about their triumphs and struggles two years on after the Nepal earthquake. While some families had the chance to rebuild, some less fortunate were still living in makeshift shelters.
Here is what one of the women had to say about her experience -
"I did not receive any support when the earthquake destroyed my home. My home is damaged, I have no bathroom and I worry that my house could collapse at any time. I have little income as a farmer, I can only afford to send 2 of my children to school. The other 2 stay home with me. I would be so happy with some support to help rebuild my home and support my family." - Aant Kumari, 63
While it was hard to hear these stories we saw it as another opportunity we had as a community to help those in need. You can find more information about this on our LOCWOM website. We will continue to work to assist those who haven’t recovered from the 2015 earthquake and try to find sustainable solutions for these people.
When we returned to Toms, word had spread about the sanitary pad distribution and women started to come from surrounding houses. Soon the backyard was full of colourful women, eager to hear us speak about this important topic. The women were so engaged and so grateful for us to be here as no one had ever come to this village to participate in anything like this.
One of the most inspiring things for us was seeing one of the women, Santoshee, take on the role of community coordinator and volunteer to take over this project in the district, while also communicating with us, sharing sustainable ideas that could help bring income here. Our visit was like a stone in the water, creating a ripple effect of inspiration that touched other women in the community. It was a humble example of how change happens in this world.
When we left Nuwakot we felt positive about the future. We felt grateful to all our wonderful friends and supporters who had lent a hand to the women of Nepal. Our intention is to give a step up to women here and create a platform for them to grow and be empowered.
"Give a woman a fish and feed her for a day, teach a woman how to fish and feed her for a lifetime" - Female proverb
You can support future sanitary pad distributions here : http://www.locwom.org/womens-health-hygiene-educational-program/