Nov 17, 2015

Sisterhood in Post-Earthquake Nepal

For November's update, we share a stunning story on Aura Freedom's project in action published on EXPOSURE. Here is an excerpt: 

DISPLACED.

By now we assume everyone has heard. But just in case…

A 7.8 magnitude earthquake rocked Nepal on April 25, 2015, bringing the country to its knees. Then, on May 12, another one. In fact, the ground is still shaking. 

Millions were displaced and hundreds of thousands made homeless. Women and children became instantly more vulnerable and violence against them increased overnight. For women, ‘relief’ means so much more than blankets and rice.

Something needed to be done...

Read more in 'Camp Sisterhood', a story on Aura Freedom's post-earthquake work on Exposure.

 

WITH ALL OF OUR GRATITUDE - Thank you for supporting this work, and for your continued support. Our women and girls still need us.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? - How do you think we can attract more widespread attention in order to continue this important work?

Links:

Aug 31, 2015

Our Female Friendly Spaces Are Changing Things

"The Female Friendly Space is full every single day. Women and girls are pouring in for protection, information and help. Some of them didn't even know that support was available to them. Many of them have experienced violence, but they didn't think anyone cared." - Pragyaa, on the ground in our Female Friendly Space (Nepal)
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In June, we lanched our travelling Female Friendly Space (FFS) in the Jorpati displacement camp of NepalIn emergency situations, violence against women and girls increases drastically, as well as harmful practices such as child marriage and the sexual exploitation of women and girls for water and food.
Our FFS is making a difference in the camps, prividing shelter, 24-hour security, access to services, education, human rights awareness and community awareness og gender-based violence. We are also providing life skill training for women and a sports empowerment program for adolescent girls to keep them safe.

On July 15th we moved to the next displacement camp of Thali, where 97 families from Sindhupalchok and Dhading are living. Sindhupalchok and Dhading are some of the areas worst hit by the earthquake and high-risk zones for human trafficking and gender-based violence. These communities have suffered great losses.

The FFS provided the women and girls of the Thali camp with a safe space where they could report incidences of violence and exploitation, seek services, be referred to medical or trauma counselling, attend awareness workshops and feel safe. The FFS also provides activities, education, temporary shelter and 24-hour security and protection for women and children. The space also provides men and boys and other community members with education and awareness of human rights and gender equality, engaging them through various activities.

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ON THE ROAD AGAIN...

This week, our travelling Female Friendly Space in Nepal is on the road again! Off to the next displacement camp in Dhading, to empower, protect and educate women and girls against violence and exploitation.

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SOME HIGHLIGHTS FROM OUR WORK IN THE THALIDISPLACEMENT CAMP

Astounding things are happening in our Female Friendly Spaces as we break the silence of gender-based violence and give women and girls the empowerment and support they need to protect themselves in the camps and in their daily lives.

Recognition from the United Nations Population Fund

The data we are collecting in the camps on attitudes of gender-based violence has been featured on the UNFPA Humanitarian Response website and shared with the other organizations in the Gender-Based Violence cluster.

The Power of Sport

We are using sport in our space as a way to increase agency and confidence in adolescent girls, and as a way to introduce sensitive issues such as consent, saying NO and abuse. After just one session, one girl came forward with a traumatic story and we were there to support her and refer her and all the other girls to services and support available to them. Adolescent girls are the most vulnerable, and our intervention is making a difference.

Above: Young girls are given education and support to break the silence of gender-based violence inside our Female Friendly Space in Thali, Nepal.

Knowledge is Freedom

Our awareness sessions on gender-based violence and human rights continued with the introduction of a new campaign and flyer, which the women took away with them, along with dignity kits and mosquito nets. Knowledge is freedom and these women are walking away from our space with a little more freedom in their hands.

"Of course we experience violence. But we didn't know there was anything we could do about it." - voices from the camp

Men and boys in the community are also being exposed to our education, which is part of the big picture and so important for sustainability. We cannot end gender-based violence without support from men and boys.

Above: An English version of our flyer and poster being circulated in the camps.
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We need your support to keep this project going. Funding for this project is running low. 
Please donate to our project today!
THANK YOU FOR YOUR GENEROSITY!
Aug 26, 2015

Bikes and Rights On Hold for Earthquake Relief

Life Skill training inside our FFS
Life Skill training inside our FFS

Dear friends and supporters,

Thank you all for your generous support of Bikes & Rights, a project which aims to empower and educate girls through mentorship, human rights awareness and BIKES!

Aura Freedom will be putting this project on hold in order to concentrate on our earthquake relief work and to address the escalating violence in Nepal, both inside and outside the displacement camps. Your funds have already been put to important use for the design and research of Bikes and Rights, as well as for the initial implementation stages with our local staff and partners. We thank you. Aura Freedom has every intention of continuing with implementation of this project once feasible...a project which has received recognition from Girls Not Brides, Canada's Foreign Affairs and other groups. Thank you for believing in the work we do.

OUR CURRENT FOCUS: Female Friendly Spaces in Nepal's Post-Earthquake Camps

After the earthquake hit Nepal four months ago, our focus has been on combatting gender-based violence in post-earthquake camps both in the Kathmandu Valley and beyond. There is URGENT need for an intervention in Nepal's displacement camps addressing gender-based violence. Reports from camp officials have identified an increase in rape, including the rape of a 5-year-old girl in one camp. This is unacceptable. Sex trafficking is also on the rise, as girls have become even more vulnerable due to food/water shortages and a lack of shelter. According to the UN, during natural disasters the likelihood of rape and sexual exploitation greatly increases the likelihood of unwanted pregnancies, STIs and reproductive health complications. There are more than 3.2 million women and children whose protections is at risk in Nepal. Cramped situations and a lack of law and order may exacerbate the existing vulnerabilities faced by females. Among the 8 million+ people affected by the earthquake are 40,000 women and girls at immediate risk of GBV including harmful practices such as child marriage.

For women and girls, relief means much more than rice and a blanket.

We are targeting this violence through our Female Friendly Spaces ("FFS") project, which provides a roving safe space that travels to various post-earthquake camps in Nepal where women and girls can go to report incidences of violence, seek services, be referred to medical or trauma counselling, attend awareness workshops and feel safe. The FFS also provides activities for children and adolescent girls, temporary shelter and 24-hour protection for females. In emergency situations, violence against women and girls increases drastically, as well as harmful practices such as child marriage

This project is already seeing success. See the photos attached from inside our Female Friendly Spaces and find out more about how you can support this important project here: https://www.globalgiving.co.uk/projects/safe-spaces-for-girls-in-post-quake-camps-nepal/

Thank you again for standing with us,

Marissa Kokkoros - Founding Director, Aura Freedom International

Women learn of their rights and services available
Women learn of their rights and services available
Our Female Friendly Space camp community in Thali
Our Female Friendly Space camp community in Thali
Gender-Based Violence awareness session in the FFS
Gender-Based Violence awareness session in the FFS
Young girls participating in our program
Young girls participating in our program
This girl survived the quake and is staying in FFS
This girl survived the quake and is staying in FFS
 
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