David Rothkopf CEO and editor of the website Foreign Policy Group outlines the fight to get everyone an education. Among the heroes, Malala Yousafzai who continues to lead the charge for educating women.
David Rothkopf CEO and editor of the website Foreign Policy Group outlines the fight to get everyone an education. Among the heroes, Malala Yousafzai who continues to lead the charge for educating women.
Here are some pictures of my visit last month to one of Jitpur Phedi’s monthly women’s savings collectives, part of the FVIN USA supported Women’s Agricultural Cooperative Initiative:
In total, there are now over 530 women who are participants, and the number is steadily increasing. At this monthly meeting, I got to observe and participate in the collection and distribution of seeds, stories and funds for innovative agricultural and cultural projects that are run for and by local women.
I also had the pleasure of visiting with an elderly lady who I have met on my previous trips with VIN. It is a wonderful feeling to see her family grow and see how they are able to utilize and benefit from the resources provided by our programs.
In 2012, she and her family built a new toilet for their residence and made other structural improvements to the house with support from VIN’s sanitation initiatives. Additionally, with seed money that came from Friends of VIN USA’s grant to VIN, she and her daughter-in-laws have recently started a tomato farm together, which will generate revenue to help support their family’s needs. She says she is thankful for our support and that we are welcome to her home for tea anytime!
The Jitpurphedi Women Agricultural C0-operative are creating supportive spaces in which to discuss and work through issues relating to their work, families and in general, life in rural Nepal. They are also actively engaged with the facilitation of cultural and language programs for the international volunteers who come to spend time in their communities and help to make these programs possible. They expressed their excitement to me regarding these intercultural exchanges, and have said they look forward to learning and teaching with volunteers from around the world!
During my trip, I also got to see dozens of new toilets constructed, in part, with FVIN’s support through our 2011-12 grant to VIN. As we toured the different wards of Jitpur Phedi, I spoke with many mothers and grandmothers, and got to play with the children along the way. In general, the community members I spoke with seem happy and grateful for the infrastructural developments taking place.
I also visited sponsored children’s group in Jitpur, where each of the members of the club stood up to share with me about themselves, their personal and educational aspirations and their visions for community. This dynamic, vibrant group of creative young leaders was impressive, to say the least!
Finally, let me mention the health post, which is continuing to increase in size and efficiency – now staffed with a number of full-time health professionals and medical volunteers through VIN that enable community members to seek care locally, instead of having to go to major urban centers, which are further away. Recently, the post gained additional support and resources from the Nepali government, which now supports the pathology lab and other services. Now, with the ongoing support of medical personnel and material resources, the health post of Jitpur Phedi provides a variety of needed services for the local community.
There is nothing that can compare to the experience of being there and experiencing the work being done firsthand. I thank you all for your ongoing support of these important, sustainable, comprehensive and locally run and managed programs, and I encourage YOU to get more involved.
There is still so much work to be done in order to provide women and children in rural Nepal the opportunities and resources they deserve.
Consider donating to VIN’s programs, or become a volunteer in Nepal . There are great opportunities available, especially for long-term professional and skilled volunteers. VIN is currently seeking journalists who would like the opportunity to live and work in Nepal!
If interested, please contact FVIN for more information.
With love and gratitude,
Sadie Green, FVIN Vice President
Great article from Megan Foo, president of the Hong Kong Chapter of Women LEAD, on Women’s Entrepreneurship.
Happy Nepali New Year 2071!
May this year bring many blessings to you and yours!!!
My semester in graduate school here in the states is winding down, but the new Nepali school year is getting ready to start anew!
As a student in a critical South Asia Area Studies program, I’m acutely aware of the multitude of problems that exist, not only in Nepal but in the many unequal local and global power structures in which all of our lives are embedded.
Nepal is a breathtakingly beautiful place, but many people’s lives here are very difficult. There is so much love, and so much pain…
*Our little sister receiving clothes and school materials from Shyam, VIN Child Development Program Officer
We CAN all work together to make this world a better place ♥
Since 2012, FVIN has been honored to support these 17 girls and their communities. I can tell you firsthand that that they are lovely, amazing young women.
Soon they will be the leaders our world needs!
If you are able, please donate to their educational fund. You can help support families and communities that are struggling to provide their girls with the best opportunities!
We have $500 to go to meet our goal of $4,000 for the 2014/2015 year. Come on! Be a part of something bigger 🙂 Anything helps, even $10!
Thank you for being you and caring!
Sadie Green (VP)
Friends of VIN
|A woman poses for a picture outside of her home in Jitpur, Nepal|
On March 17th, 2012, FVIN hosted a gathering in Honolulu, HI, with the Society of Nepalese in Hawaii. Besides enjoying each other’s company and some delicious chai tea and snacks, we were able to have some important discussions, make connections with one another, and start working together on exciting initiatives for the benefit of the people of Nepal!
|Hawaii residents, former FVIN President Dee Chapon, Secretary Ken Moore, and Vice President Sadie Green representing FVIN at a meeting with SNEHA President (and now one of FVIN on-site Independent Observers) Rajib Subba, as well as SNEHA Vice President Man Dhol Rai, and a host of SNEHA, and Honolulu community members.|
Nepal is a country of sublime beauty, both scenic and cultural. The astounding natural landscape, myriad of attractive activities, and the well-preserved and exotic cultures make this country one of the most compelling and exciting places in the world to visit. For travelers interested in veering off the beaten path and into a Himalayan paradise, Nepal represents many opportunities. Nepal is a place where visitors can make a meaningful impact, and gain so much at the same time. Whether called by adventure, spiritual growth, or the opportunity to give back, Nepal has much to offer.
From the highest mountain peaks in the world (including Mount Everest), to the tropical jungles and plains of the Terai, Nepal’s topography is rich and varied, and it has some of the most magnificent scenery in the world. Nepal is comprised of many beautiful and fascinating lakes, valleys, and rivers that run across it, and is home to some of the best wildlife habitat in the Subcontinent.
Nepal is also an ethnic mosaic where unique cultural traditions and rituals, flavorful cuisine and more festivals than days of the year abound. With 100 officially recognized castes and ethnic groups who speak approx. 92 different languages, Nepal is extremely culturally and linguistically diverse. The people of Nepal are indeed, for many, the greatest attraction of all. Nepal is also famous for its hospitality, and is a great place to do home-stays. Predominately Hindu and Buddhist, Nepal is a tolerant melting pot of many cultures and beliefs, which visitors can experience.
Due to the sheer diversity of Nepal, the range of activities available to visitors is unsurpassed. Trekking, mountaineering, and rafting are some activities Nepal is most well known for. The many national parks and cultural heritage sites of Nepal offer fantastic opportunities as well for everything from elephant safaris to micro-light flights and beyond. Visitors can choose to nourish their souls through a range of yoga and meditation courses and religious and pilgrimage opportunities. Volunteering in the remote, ancient and medieval villages, towns and cities of Nepal is also popular, and is perhaps the most rewarding and ideal way to experience this beautiful country.
Nepal is well known as a place where spirituality and daily life are intertwined, and religious tolerance is the norm. Its ancient Hindu traditions and colorful festivals, as well as its Buddhist practices and pilgrimages intrigue and entice. The beauty of the temples and monasteries are breathtaking, and the opportunities to engage in the practice of Buddhism or the festive traditions of Hinduism, are unparalleled.
“Nepal is a wonderful place to become familiarized with, and immersed in, the study of Buddhism. The birthplace of Gautama Buddha, Nepal has some of the most important Buddhist pilgrimage sites, and Kathmandu Valley is home to many such monuments and monasteries, with venerated teachers. Nestled in the verdant hills surrounding the valley, these monasteries provide a perfect place for volunteers to learn Buddhist philosophy and meditative introspection.”
– Ilya Nuzov, Former VIN Volunteer
Nepal is an extraordinary, yet extremely impoverished, nation. One of the poorest countries in the world, most Nepalese (80%) survive as subsistence farmers, and live on $1 a day or less. Nepal is the poorest country in Asia, and many of its people do not have access to basic needs such as clean water, food, health and education. Getting involved as an international volunteer can make a huge difference in the lives of the people of Nepal.
The status of women and girls in Nepal is particularly concerning. Evidenced by human development indicators, Nepali women are well behind their male counterparts in matters of health statuses, literacy rates, and working rights. Sex trafficking is also a major threat to Nepali women and girls, as is the gender violence they face that often goes unchecked. Thankfully, there are many great initiatives underway, many brought about by the women themselves, and positive impacts of these projects and programs can be seen all around the country.
The ability in Nepal to combine a once-in-a-lifetime holiday, with the opportunity to make a great and lasting impact in the lives of those less fortunate, is unique and truly wonderful.
My name is Janelle, and in 2008, I found myself at a crossroads. I’d worked for eight years at an online marketing company that was twenty people strong when I joined, went through three acquisitions, grew to four hundred strong in Chicago (my home town) and ended up being purchased by Google. My tenure was exciting and challenging and frenetic. At the time of the final merger, I had the opportunity to stay on the same track and do more of the same, but instead, I chose to go off the grid. I was perusing a website and saw a posting for an opportunity to go to Nepal, live in a Buddhist monastery and teach English. I can’t say it was something that I’d always wanted to do but as soon as I saw the listing, I knew that’s what I was going to do.
My time in Kathmandu changed my life and the program offered by Volunteers Initiative Nepal (VIN) was the gateway to that change. Inspired by my experience, my husband also went to Nepal through a program with VIN and lived with a host family in a small village, teaching English at a local school. When he returned, we decided that we wanted to help VIN in any way we could, even if we were on the other side of the world. We teamed up with some other former volunteers and formed Friends of VIN, a separate but “sister” organization to VIN, established in the United States as a non-profit as of 2011. We are a small but mighty group whose collective experience opened our minds and hearts and motivated us to try and make a difference. Our mission is to positively affect the lives of marginalized women and children in Nepal, whether that’s through raising funds for various programs or encouraging volunteerism through VIN.
The members of Friends of VIN come from diverse backgrounds and bring different skills and talents to the table, but what we don’t have, is a web designer. We were thrilled to learn of the pairing program that Grassroots.org offers and are eagerly looking forward to pairing up with someone who will be working with us (okay, mostly me:)) to help get our new, official, engaging, interactive website up and running. We want to inspire others to take advantage of the opportunity to volunteer, we want to connect people who have volunteered, and we want to collect funds to support the programs VIN offers in Nepal. We believe that a fully functional website will be one of the cornerstones in helping us achieve these goals. If this interests you, I’m happy to answer any and all questions!
Former Volunteer, Thomas J. – Wed May 09, 2012 @ 07:28PM
Thomas J. was a VIN volunteer teaching English to 6th & 7th graders
in Jitpur, Nepal, 2011.
The past couple of days have been unique. Previously I was finding the rhythm of living with the Dahal family as well as adjusting to life in remote Nepal, and teaching my classes, when all of a sudden everything stopped in this country due to the Tihar Festival.
This is the second largest festival of the year and it lasts for 5 days. It is devoted to Loxmir, the Goddess of Fortune and is celebrated, in part, by allowing the sons of each family to trounce around the village, on each of the nights, chanting and singing and stopping at each house until the occupants come out and give the young men rupees. All of it has a Halloween feel (Tihar, too, landing at the end of October) kids awaiting nightfall for license to rumble around the town, in groups, knocking on doors, many feeling, for the first time, the empowerment of being part of the streets with their brethren. My 13 year old host brother (Bijaya) had that bank robber look in his eye, and could not wait to scratch away from the dinner table in order to go stealth with his friends; no school, no curfew, and no parents.
I had school, for first period only, on the first day of the festival which was the 25thand walked in my class and, as is the routine I have taught them, wrote the page number of the English book we have been studying on the blackboard. No sooner had I started to write when the entire class screamed to me “Noooooooooo!!!!!!” and I knew they had me. There was no chance they were about to focus on present and past participles on festival day. So, without turning around, I erased and wrote again on the board in big letters HAPPY TIHAR!!!! and the class went jail-break on me. So I told them, “If I give you this hour, what are you going to do? How are you going to use your time?”
For the next hour, those kids danced and sang and clapped and drummed on desks like their life depended on it, all of it traditional Nepalese music which had been taught to them by their parents and grandparents. They remained enthused yet orderly which impressed me as, really, I have not had to play disciplinarian.
For the remainder of the days, while school was closed, I have hiked and hiked and hiked straight up these mountains. With bottled water and journal in my backpack I crank out of the house after a plate of rice and dissolve into any trail I can find and stay on it until there is nothing left, always keeping the Kathmandu valley in my sights. The people are my map. I have no triptik for this part of the world, but know enough now of the area to ask for assistance and, more importantly, how to ask for assistance to the next landmark, whether a temple, or archaic stone staircase which mends my travel to the next ridge, or a switchback that hyphenates a section of the hills, its the people of this land who know how to get me back home.
Journal Entry #2
Former VIN Volunteer, Thomas J. – Wed May 09, 2012 @ 07:10PM
Thomas J. was a VIN volunteer teaching English to 6th & 7th graders in Jitpur, Nepal, 2011.
These kids are really good and throw me challenges regularly forcing me to mentally, and creatively, dash and gash; discovering new tactics to keep them moving forward. One of the tricks I play with them, when I sense their focus bleeding out, is a count-clap game. I walk to the very middle of the room in between the two rows of desks and ask them, “Are you ready?” I have done this enough that they know what is about to happen. Without saying a word I place the back of my hands, fisted, at the side of my face and flash numbers to them. Their job is to clap the number I have showing. Sometimes I do just odd numbers, and then I will switch to even numbers and many times I will change it up again and mix odd and even. Incrementally, I have been increasing how high the numbers are that end the sequence. As soon as we end the count clap we jump right back into the lesson at hand with a new-found concentration and energy……….
To build my Nepali vocabulary I have been throwing a Nepal word into each class. The latest is the Nepali word for “to remember” samjannu (pronounced SOME-ZEN-NOO). (In Nepalese, if the letter “J” is inside the structure of a word it takes on a “z” sound.) I have them chant this word in between the paragraphs of the reading exercises, which we do together and out loud. They need to remember the content of the stories we read as at the end of each one I ask them many questions about the story and they must answer me in past tense, present tense, using pronouns, and the correct verbs.
One of the nice surprises of this teaching assignment is the dialogue I have with the other teachers at my school. There is an English Literature teacher for the 9th and 10th graders who is Nepalese, and the two of us find time for conversation about her upcoming lessons. She is from a large family of teachers (her brother, father, mother, and her husband) and inevitably before the day begins she will ask me questions concerning poems or short stories, which are part of her lesson plans, and we speak on interpretation of the pieces. She asks great questions and has a high level of curiosity concerning word choice, and sentence structure, and also has an understanding of metaphor and specific phrases having larger meaning than what it is communicated in the literal sense.
The week at the school has been full of challenges but productive. We have moved on to learning how to write in the possessive and what it means to write comparative phrases (big, bigger, biggest, fast, faster, fastest…..etc). The Nepali word I have been using this week is “ramro” (Pronounced as it is spelled) which is Nepali for “good”. Another word we are using is “dayaan” (Pronounced DIE-ANN) which is “listen” as well as “paaunu jawaab” (Pronounced PIE-E-NOO JI-WAB) which is “find answer”. I have also come to devise a system with both of my classes, but especially my 6th grade class, where I have designated two students, a girl and a boy, to be my lieutenants and these lieutenants are in charge of each group of the class and if said groups get out of line, then these two little lieutenants take the fall and will be in trouble. Now, between you and I there is nothing I would do concerning punishment, but they do an awesome job of keeping the kids in line who are in their designated groups, and I continue to encourage them and thank them for helping me keep the class in line.
There are so many opportunities and times I think of my mother and father and how I watched them in their classes during their careers and see myself emulate them. All of this is hard work but rewarding. Even creating the lesson plans at night and seeking out tricks or methods to keep them locked in is as much of the puzzle as the execution the next day.
The lessons continue with my 6th and 7th graders and this past week we worked on using the phrases “I will” and “I won’t” as well as what it means to tag a negative statement on the back of a question/ statement combination, for instance: You are late for school (the statement), aren’t you? (the question) And then here comes the reply “No, I am not.” There are times I jump off the book and get creative with the lesson and we are now at the point where the kids are taking the chalk and doing some of their lessons on the board. Both classes are lousy at doing their homework but it is hard to lay blame. Resources are scarce and many of my kids are without books and/or writing utensils but they soldier on and as long as they are in their desk each day we will find a way to get as much English into them as possible.
Binita is going to school! The materials and her tuition were paid for through fundraising efforts of Friends of Volunteers Initiative Nepal and their online fundraising campaign sponsored through crowdrise.com
VIN provides regular reports and photos from the girls. Presently, over $4,000 has been raised through the Crowdrise online fundraising campaign.
Going to school is often very difficult financially.
VIN has also helped with school safety concerns by installing a fence around a school yard to keep children from falling down the mountain.
The tuition program is a direct example of how the Friends of Volunteers Initiative Nepal is serving marginalized women and girls. Providing meaningful education opportunities for women and children continues to be a pririty for FVIN.