LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENt
This year has been one of BIG changes at Her International. With the addition of two co-Executive Directors, a name change from IWEN to Her International, the launch of a new jewellery line and getting a book published, we feel like it just keeps getting clearer: our mission to help marginalized women and girls is growing.
Throughout all of these changes, the fact remains that our small, grassroots charity is focused on the recipients of our work. With 182 girls in school on current Her scholarships, the launch of new medical scholarships in the Dang area (thanks to everyone's help with the Unako Memorial Scholarship Fund!), the facilitation of 29 Mother's Groups, and growing local Canadian projects, we are truly changing lives. This is only done with your support and so let me say T-H-A-N-K Y-O-U.
On behalf of the Board and our staff, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and we will see you in the New Year!
It’s a particularly stormy morning, and when I arrive at Dhankumari’s home, a mother pig is giving birth. I’m fascinated by the young piglet, who at this point can neither walk nor see properly. Yet, she does not quit. She pulls herself up and around the small hut, as her small body tremors. When she reaches her mother’s torso, it takes her a while to figure out how to suckle, but she figures it out eventually. Throughout the process, Dhankumari is there, ensuring the young piglet is safe, especially when the pesky chickens keep trying to peck at her umbilical cord.
Dhankumari began the pig business once she joined the Mothers group program. Before that, she earned money washing dishes for various people. Combined with her husband’s income, and with no land to their name it wasn’t enough, and they often struggled to buy food. Today, her two pigs provide a steady source of income. She hasn’t yet needed to take a loan from the microcredit program. Instead, she has learnt how to save money from it, and setup a business.
Dhankumari has four children, two boys and two girls. Both her daughters are supported by IWEN, and I see one of them as she’s preparing to go to school. She has a bicycle from IWEN that she uses to get to school. When the girls aren’t in school, their father uses the cycle to get a special type of clay to make pots (pictured below).
We then become trapped by the thunderous monsoon rains, and retreat inside her home. She picks up each of the baby chicks, and also brings inside the ducks and chickens who are frightened of the thunder and lightning. Inside, is dark and quiet.
From the discussions in the group, Dhankumari has gained insight on different forms of family planning measures available such as Depo, IUDs, and contraceptive pills. Both her daughter, and daughter-in-law are making use of these by attending counselling sessions provided to the young women. She has also learned the importance of not marrying girls off at a young age. In her own words, a woman’s health isn’t good if she has babies early. She has a 22-year-old daughter at home, who is currently unmarried. A decade or two ago, this would not be the case.
Going forward, she would like to see specialized training programs so the women can pursue training for business ventures of their interest. Due to the wide range of ages in the group, it is currently difficult to do so in a large group setting. She notes that the younger women are more interested in sewing and tailoring, while the older women are interested in setting up, and running animal farms.
About the author:
Neha is currently a first year medical student at Michigan State University, and is completing a masters in Global Health from McMaster. She has recently spent time in rural Nepal, speaking with local women and girls who are empowered through access to equal education; and in India studying the role of Ayurvedic medicine in healthcare. She has an eye for adventure and is full of compassion. Her passion lies in working for the international community, she hopes to take her learnt practice and knowledge to places in need. Her hobbies include reading menus, learning new languages and traveling.
CHRISTMAS gift IDEAS
Her International has two exciting ways this year to gift an experience, while donating to the work we are doing:
1. Give the Gift of Empowerment through a Brick with your loved one's name on it, written on the walls of the Unako House
(Print a beautiful Gift Certificate here to put under the tree)
2. Enjoy a night out together (Friday, Feb. 9th) to sip on wine, enjoy delicious Nepali food, browse local art, and dance the night away at HOPE in Her Eyes: an evening to support marginalized women in our own backyard and internationally.
GATHER YOUR TRIBE: WOMEN EMPOWERMENT POP-UP
On December 13th, Her and Mamas for Mamas will host another of our Gather your Tribe Empowerment Pop-ups.
The guest speaker is Dr. Anna Marie Gierach, a women's Pre & Post-Partum Chiropractic Professional who specializes in Self Care & Stress Reduction, will help us to understand ways to take care of ourselves going into the holiday season.
Her International and Mamas for Mamas share the united goal of supporting marginalized women and children in the Okanagan.
Happy Holidays everyone!
Here's to a safe & prosperous New Year for all.
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