Edition: Summer 2019
MOTHER SPOTLIGHT: Sunita chaudhary
Sundari Chaudary is a Sahara Mother’s Group member and like many Nepali women, she is unclear how old she is. Maybe 38 years old? She lives in Ghadawa Rual Municipality-5, Parnaha. She has six members in her family: two sons who are 18 and 16 years old; 1 daughter 6 years old; a husband; a mother-in-law and herself.
Her older son, Kiran, originally dropped out of school in grade 9 to work as a labourer due to financial problems in the family, but is now learning how to be a driver. Her younger son, Parbin, attends Chainpur Higher Secondary School and is presently in grade 9. Sundari’s daughter, Prijma, attends Shuvatara English Boarding School and Sundari’s husband, Khojiram, helps her with all her businesses.
Sundari supports her own children to go to school but receives support from Creating Possibilities Nepal (CP) for the Sickle Cell Anemia Program. Prijma had been sick for a long time, so when Sundari learned about sickle cell anemia at a mothers group informational talk and Prijma’s symptoms matched, she took her daughter to the hospital for a screening test. The results came back positive and her daughter was officially diagnosed with sickle cell anemia. Soon after her daughter started to take the free medicine supplied by the government and now, today, Prijma is healthy. These days, however, Sundari pays for her daughter’s medication (Rs60/month) and receives private care on her own because travel by bus to the government hospital costs Rs300. Prijma continues to be followed by UBC medical students with each year’s visit. It was four years ago when Sundari joined the Sahara Mother’s Group and two years ago when she learned about sickle cell anemia. A lot has improved since then.
In addition, Sundari has learned about business and vegetable farming from the mothers group. Each month she deposits Rs100 into the mothers group’s microcredit. Three years ago she took out a loan of Rs.15000 to start her vegetable farm. After great success and paying this loan back, Sundari took out another loan to open a small shop. From the profits of selling her vegetables and other items in her shop, she is now proud owner of a fish and chicken farm too! She will receive baby chicks and small fish fry in the winter to sell at a later date for profit when they’re bigger.
Sundari grew up as a bonded labourer where she looked after buffalo, cleaned the rich man’s home, took care of their baby, and cut and carried wood from the forest for cooking. She lived in that house in Ghorahi and was very sad. Her face fell as we talked about this time in her life and one can tell that she is still very sad. There were many words left unspoken. Then, one day, Sundari got married. She still did labour work but now lived in her own home. Now she worked as a homemaker, cut crops and built bridges.
Today, she no longer works as a labourer. She is her own boss and nobody owns her. She is a business woman! She has money to send her children to school, has good food to eat, owns her own house, owns her own land and, most importantly, owns her own life. She has freedom and happiness. Her whole family helps with the farm, and they are healthy and happy now too. Life is good!
By: Joanne March (Volunteer)
student SPOTLIGHT: BARSHA bhusal
Barsha Bhusal is 17 years old. She studies in grade 9 at Buddha Jyoti School. She is getting support since 6 years. She is a good and hardworking student and she wants to study up to bachelor level.
She has a quiet nature. Barsha's life was not easy. When she was small, her parents used to go India for labor work. She used to stay with her old grandmother. Her father was drunkard and her mother was sick. Her parents used to fight and quarrel all the time.
Her mother felt many difficulties all the time. Her father still goes to India for labor work. Due to illness problem, her mother cannot work. She does all households’ works. Her small sister studies, with the help of a neighbour, and she also works in the neighbour's home. In this way their life is running.
Barsha feels very lucky that she got opportunity to study even in such poor conditions. She likes the stationary items provided by us. She expresses that she won't face the big difficulties that her parents do because she is going to school. She is grateful for this opportunity to study. By: Deepa (Empowerment Through Education - Field Coordinator)
ubc sickle cell trip 2019
For the past few years, a group of UBC Medical Students have visited Dang annually to increase screening and awareness of sickle cell disease through education.
Here are a few excerpts from their time there this Spring:
These school visits were very highly anticipated as we were all very excited to interact with the local children. Proudly wearing our UBC sickle cell t-shirts, fuelled by poori and curry, and equipped with the educational posters we made on our first day in Dang, we made our way onto our tuk-tuks for the trip to the local schools. The travel time was about 45 minutes, and we got to see more of the Lamahi landscape on the way.
We were very impressed by how passionate and proficient the CP staff are in the knowledge translation of sickle cell disease. The translators did an amazing job of making the session interactive and engaging for the children with their charisma. Based on the questions we asked the class at the end, it was clear that our message had gotten across and we were impressed by their understanding of complicated concepts. To conclude our presentation, we taught the kids about proper hand washing technique, and we also taught the kids a few English phrases with the song, “head, and shoulders, knees and toes.” The reactions from the students were priceless!
After teaching at the first school, we visited a local health post, where the initial screening test for sickle cell disease is conducted. We were warmly greeted by the local doctor and the lab assistants who showed us the patient rooms and the lab facilities for analyzing blood samples under the microscope. CP Nepal is currently helping this health post purchase additional lab supplies to increase its screening capacity. Once patients screen positive at this health post, they must travel to Ghorahi regional hospital for a confirmatory diagnostic test.
MOTHERS GROUP TESTING
After our elaborate welcome, and all ~40 of the mothers had arrived, it was time to deliver the educational modules. We were accompanied by Female Community Health Volunteers (FCHV) and CP staff, both of whom had been trained in the delivery of these SCD modules. These volunteers reach out to various communities in the Dang district to promote health education. In providing this service, they are role models for women in their communities, and will likely inspire women to effect positive change. We brought a number of posters we had created to aid the presentation, as well as educational pamphlets on SCD to hand out to the women afterwards.
Before the presentation began, each woman filled out a pre-module survey assessing their understanding of SCD and potential screening history. This process was slightly chaotic, but with the help of CP staff, instructions were clearly delivered, and each woman completed the survey. The FCHVs and CP staff then went on to deliver an enticing, interactive module we had created on SCD in Tharu. The mothers appeared engaged, and asked plenty of questions.
It has been a couple of weeks since the end of our time in Nepal, and it is safe to say that everyone on our team left feeling incredibly inspired by and grateful towards the CP staff that we worked alongside throughout the course of our FLEX project. In addition to the amazing work that they do such as SCD awareness, Hero Girls, Mothers’ Groups, and Microcredit Loan programs, CP created a heartwarming environment that left us feeling like family.
You could immediately tell that CP has earned the respect of the community and this is entirely due to the way that CP staff conduct themselves and the amazing work that they do as an organization. It was evident that CP not only care about the communities in Dang, but are also an integral part of them. This was exemplified by the way they welcomed everyone through their doors. The neighbourhood children would come by the Unako House in the evenings and play, joining in on meals and community activities. These children live on the neighbouring farms, and we were unsure whether they attend school as they were always around at the office. The fact that the children chose to come to our workplace in their free time showed us that Unako House is a place where anyone can come to feel welcomed, supported and accepted.
The Her International team is expanding
As our organization grows, there has been an exciting opportunity to further expand our team with two part-time Development Directors. Our Co-Executive Directors believe that sharing a role has truly made each of us more empowered in our own lives and we wanted to extend this collaborative effort out to a development position. We are pleased to introduce you to Cierra Bray and Karen Velazquez. These two will help us grow geographically and financially so that we can continue our good work in the world.
CIERRA BRAY, DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
Cierra Bray is thrilled to be on the Her International team. She’s an entrepreneur, travelling blogger and passionate woman on a mission to collaboratively impact and change the world. With 5+ years in marketing, communications and event planning, Cierra started her own business in 2016 to help other organizations thrive. This gave her a chance to work with a variety of non-profits. She was awarded the Visionary Prize by the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario for pitching around education and entrepreneurship. Cierra also represented Canada at the G20 Young Entrepreneurs Alliance Summit in Argentina to discuss policies in the education system worldwide and has done many talks in schools about the power of education and opportunity.
“To me, education is essential to life. It means health, confidence, connection, support and opportunity. I'm so grateful to have the opportunity to use my skill set to share the importance of Her International and why education is so vital for girls and women worldwide.”
KAREN VELAZQUEZ, DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
As a Latin American immigrant, Karen is an avid supporter of empowering women and girls. She developed a desire to help others from a young age, after witnessing her extended family members trapped in the cycle of poverty.
She discovered her passion for fundraising and networking while organizing a Salvation Army fundraiser for the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Since then, she has actively volunteered and fundraised to support social causes. In late 2018, she founded a team for the BC Ride to Conquer Cancer. Karen actively recruited riders, community support, and corporate sponsors. Her tenacious spirit was infectious and by mid-2019 her team had grown to 19 riders and raised $60,000 for the BC Cancer Foundation with some of the riders raising awareness for childhood cancer.
Her desire to understand social constructs and global affairs led her to pursue education in Canada, Mexico, and Spain. While studying her undergrad Communications degree, Karen volunteered in a pilot project with the Royal Roads University Students Association and Status of Women Canada. The initiative was to create a safe campus through student awareness of Gender Based Violence and peer support services. Karen developed a program manual for volunteers which included policies and procedures, protocols, and program foundations. The manual was incorporated into the Students Against Violence campus initiative, setting a precedence for years to come.
Karen holds a Masters in International Relations and has professional experience in communications, project and event management. When she’s not working or volunteering, she’s either reading, running, cycling, or playing with her dog Harley.
Cierra is based out of Ontario while Karen works locally in B.C. We are thrilled to add these two to our team!
“Her Ambassadors” are a group of passionate people who have committed to be ADVOCATES and ACTIVATORS for our organization. They work closely with our organization to develop their own fundraising initiatives, to sell Unako products, or to raise awareness for our cause. Ambassadors are featured on our website and awarded Her Ambassador badges (see right) for their websites and business cards.
feature ambassador: JESSE SPOONER
Jesse Spooner is a medical student at the University of British Columbia’s Island Medical Program graduating in 2020. Between his first and second year of medical school, he went to Nepal and saw our work firsthand.
This year he’s training for the Ironman Canada race in Whistler, July 28th, 2019. He has been training since January 2019 and is raising money for Her International alongside his training. So far he’s raised $1190! It’s amazing what one person can do.
Thank you Jesse!
9, wine & pie
EDGECOMBE’S FAVOURITE GOLF TOURNAMENT IS BACK!
Sept. 20th, 2019
To golf or attend the dinner, click here.
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
(& FUN NETWORKING EVENT)
October 9, 2019
HERO STARTS WITH HER
(an adolescent girls empowerment workshop)
October 19th, 2019
If you’d like to register your daughter or a female youth aged 12-17 in an interactive and empowering half day workshop, go here.
UNAKO SCARF BLOW OUT SALE
We are blowing out old inventory to make way for THE new!
OR at our retailers in Kelowna (see below)
Merchandise that inspires
3001 Tutt Street
Purchase our scarves and jewellery at the number one fair trade shop in the Okanagan.
Peter’s Your Independent Grocer
1835 Gordon Drive
You can find all of your grocery needs, along with a lot of local options, at Independent Grocer in the Capri Shopping Mall. And soon you will be able to shop for a cause with our scarves in front of the Customer Service Desk and our jewellery on checkout at Aisle 1+2.
BECOME A MEMBER
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Become a member today for only $35 (tax deductible).
Your $35 annual contribution not only funds Her programs but also makes you a voting member of our registered charity. Members direct the future of Her International by voting on overarching organizational changes and the board of directors.
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Thank you for being a part of this journey in supporting and empowering girls & women around the world.
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