As part of the new community e-newsletters, we will begin to send out quarterly spotlights of the girls who take part in the Empowerment Through Education program. Katie Phelps (our then Program Director, now Co-Executive Director) was in Nepal in February and was able to host this first spotlight herself. We are very excited to share these inspiring stories with you!
Ramkumari Chaudhary is part of the Life-skills Mothers' Group. Two years ago, she came to the IWEN office, Unako House in Dang, with a request: to establish a group in her locale, Gadhawa. She knew of others in neighbouring regions who were a part of the microcredit program and saw how their lives had changed. Ramkumari hoped to do the same.
Prior to this program, she made her living doing manual labour. She says she would still be carrying bricks long distances in the heat today if she hadn’t joined.
Today, she is a small business owner. Ramkumari has a small vegetable farm, with three goats, two fields, and a pig. She makes a steady income selling vegetables, such as cauliflower, spinach and beans. Her father and mother-in-law help her farm the fields. Her husband was also a manual labourer, and occasionally drove an auto rickshaw. In order to provide for the family, he went abroad and took up security work in Malaysia. He was successful at first, however he now has to move around to different countries for work, and wants to come back home.
Ramkumari dreams of expanding her farm so one day her whole family can live together. She has been able to save money with her income, but she says this is just the start. Ramkumari wants to borrow a larger loan from the microcredit group to expand her farm, however money in large sums is not available. She also faces a huge barrier due to irrigation. The environment here in the Dang Valley is hot, dry and arid. In order to irrigate the land, a motor for the water is required, along with electricity to power it. This means costs rise quickly. With a microcredit loan of only 5,500 NPR a year ago, Ramkumari began her small farm. She first used the money to buy a small pig. When it grew larger, she sold it for 12,000 NPR, and used the surplus money to buy a larger pig. The large pig only cost her 3,000 NPR, and the rest of the money was put towards purchasing the two goats, and seeds for the vegetable garden.
From the program, Ramkumari has also learned how to save money. Every month, she makes a small amount but it is a continuous and dependable stream. Because of this, she is able to send her 3-year-old son to a good, English-medium school. She tells me she is happy with her small business and the progress she has been able to make.
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.
April 1st marked a new school year for our sponsored students. This is a very exciting time in Nepal for IWEN and its on-the-ground implementing partner, Creating Possibilities. We want to wish our students all the best as they embark on another year. We would also like to thank our dedicated sponsors for making this possible. With your generous donations, we are able to sponsor 11 new students this school year bringing our total up to 180 students!
We also recently received results of the SEE (School Exit Examination) for the 2016-17 school year. They were very encouraging and positive. Here are some highlights:
- Six girls passed the exam. As a point of reference, in Chainpur a total of 84 students wrote the SEE (this is all grade 10 students, IWEN and non-IWEN), only 6 students passed - FIVE of those students were IWEN students!
- Six more students passed part of the exam but not all subjects. They are allowed to advance to the next grade and retake the 1 or 3 subjects they failed.
- Three students failed altogether BUT agreed to retake grade 10 and not drop-out.
The remaining 4 students are in alternate programs and their exam results are not out yet.
Thank you again to each of you for allowing the girls this opportunity to gain access to education in Nepal.
Kelowna, July, 2017 - IWEN Canada's Board of Directors has made a bold decision on their future leadership. Following a courageous decision to take the next step within their non-profit organization to hire an Executive Director, the IWEN Canada board unanimously supported the transition of two of their current board members, Vice President Tamara McLellan, and Director of Programs, Katie Phelps, into a shared collaborative Co-Executive Director leadership model.
Having both McLellan and Phelps in the role is like getting the best parts of two existing candidates in one. "These two women bring a solid history of dynamic leadership and complementary skills and experience. We are excited to have two women who are completely devoted to creating opportunities for marginalized women and girls working together for a brighter future," says President, Kevin Edgecombe.
McLellan brings to the co-leadership position ten years of work in the marketing and non-profit industries. She officially resigned as the Director of Marketing of FineLine Solutions to accept the position, an organization that did fundraising and donor engagement for non-profits across North America, and is coming off of maternity leave with her one year old son. Over the past ten years she has traveled and volunteered in Africa, India, and Central America, and has held positions on various boards and steering committees, most recently co-founding the Global Empowerment Coalition of the Central Okanagan.
Phelps joined the IWEN board in 2011 making her one of the longest-standing board members. Originally from Winnipeg, Phelps has lived and worked in Asia, Europe and the Middle East. She pulls together a diverse fifteen-year professional background in banking, management, and the international development sector. Phelps has worked for the Royal Bank of Canada, the U.S. Department of State, the Fulbright Commission, as well as several research, empowerment, and advocacy groups.
The co-executive directors will share overall strategic and many day-to-day operational responsibilities for IWEN. McLellan will focus primarily on fundraising and communications, while Phelps will be responsible for program development/oversight, as well as policy execution.
McLellan and Phelps will assume their new roles in early May.
IWEN Canada was founded ten years ago to lift up marginalized women and girls in Canada and abroad.
For more information:
This was a very special time for Katie and for the IWEN board of directors as she has been a dedicated board member for five years and had never seen the amazing country of Nepal.
Watch a video of her emotional reaction to visiting Unako house for the first time.
KATIE PHELPS VISITS NEPAL
AUGUST: Volunteer Meet-Up
Watch for our Volunteer Meet-Up at Kinsmen Beach from 4-6 p.m. on Aug. 30th. Come enjoy the sun with us and meet other IWEN volunteers, our new Volunteer Coordinator Stephanie Baziuk, and Co-Executive Director Tamara McLellan. There are so many ways to get involved with IWEN now: you can play a role in our fundraising events, work scarf tables, write and apply for grants or host your own pop-up. There's also opportunities within social media, communications and donor relations. Come learn about how we have grown!
SEPTEMBER: 9, Wine & Pie
Every year longtime IWEN supporters, Linda and Kevin Edgecombe, hold their annual 9, Wine and Pie charity event here in the Okanagan. It is a day filled with nine holes of golf at Sunset Ranch, wine, pie and as much fun as we can handle! The event will take place September 22nd, 2017. Keep your eyes open for tickets this summer as they sell fast.
Our Annual General Meeting is coming up on Monday, October 16th. It will be held from 7-9 p.m. and we would love to love to see you there! With so many exciting changes happening, this will be our chance to get your valuable feedback. Consider this your invite!
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