Jul 16, 2015

Bikes & Rights after the Earthquake

Presenting the research behind Bikes & Rights
Presenting the research behind Bikes & Rights

Dear Friends and Supporters,

As you know, the beautiful country of Nepal is home to our work, projects, partners, friends and beneficiaries and the past few months have been a very challenging time for us. The earthquakes have devastated Nepal, a country that already struggles with extreme poverty, human rights issues and rampant gender-based violence.

However, in true warrior fashion, we are moving forward with our interventions to empower, support and educate girls in Nepal.

Aura Freedom is already in the process of adapting the implementation of Bikes & Rights to the current disaster context in Nepal. Some aspects of the project had to be modified, but what remains is that Bikes & Rights is needed now more than ever. During times of emergency, gender-based violence and harmful practices such as child marriage often increase.

Why does child marriage increase in emergency settings?

  • Migration, displacement and extreme poverty related to war or natural disasters leave children especially vulnerable to abuse, exploitation and child marriage.
  • Fear of sexual violence, pregnancy outside of marriage (dishonour), human trafficking, homelessness and starvation can lead families in emergency or disaster situations to see child marriage as a way of off-setting violence and "keeping their daughters "safe". But child marriage is not the answer.
  • Further weakened or non-existent child welfare systems and legislative frameworks in emergency settings further exacerbates the problem.

Recognition of Bikes & Rights

Our founder, Marissa, was invited to Morocco in May for the Girls Not Brides Global Member Meeting and was asked to present Bikes & Rights to a room full of colleagues and fellow freedom fighters from around the world. The presentation was a success and colleagues from Mozambique are already discussing how to replicate Bikes & Rights in their context. See the photos attached!

Canada's Foreign Affairs has also recognized Bikes & Rights as "innovative and bold".

We are determined to move forward with the implementation of this project, even though the road has become a little bumpier. Thank you for your continued support and look forward to the next update.

"It always seems impossible until it's done". - Nelson Mandela

With gratitude,

Presenting Bikes & Rights at GirlsNotBrides summit
Presenting Bikes & Rights at GirlsNotBrides summit
Presenting Bikes & Rights at GirlsNotBrides summit
Presenting Bikes & Rights at GirlsNotBrides summit
Presenting Bikes & Rights at GirlsNotBrides summit
Presenting Bikes & Rights at GirlsNotBrides summit
The Girls Not Brides Global Member Meeting
The Girls Not Brides Global Member Meeting
Apr 24, 2015

Global recognition for Bikes & Rights!

Queen's Park 2015-International Women's Day
Queen's Park 2015-International Women's Day

Dear supporters and friends,

Bikes & Rights is gaining a lot of recognition in the development world and we are both excited and humbled!

Our founder, Marissa Kokkoros, has been invited to speak about Bikes & Rights at the 2015 global meeting on child marriage in Morocco organized by Girls Not Brides, a powerful worldwide partnership working hard to end child marriage (www.girlsnotbrides.org). Marissa will be presenting the project during a breakout session on innovative ways of addressing child marriage and we are thrilled to have this opportunity to tell global stakeholders and donors about our work.

For International Women's Day, Marissa was invited by the Canadian Human Rights Voice to speak at Queen's Park in Toronto on child marriage and human trafficking, and Bikes & Rights was once again highlighted and featured.

We are still aiming to implement Bikes & Rights in 2016. Although our goal of $30,000 has yet to be reached and we are still seeking funding for full implementation, our preliminary research is on track and partnerships are being put into place on the ground in Nepal. We here at Aura Freedom are excited about these partnerships, as we are involving different agencies and stakeholders in the area to help make things run smoothly and increase sustainability.

We are also researching local bicycle suppliers and working out the logistical aspects of the project.

We are certain that with the continued interest in this important project and with your continued support, Bikes & Rights will become a reality in 2016. Thank you all.

With gratitude,

The team at Aura Freedom International

Queen's Park 2015-International Women's Day
Queen's Park 2015-International Women's Day
Queen's Park 2015-International Women's Day
Queen's Park 2015-International Women's Day
Girls Not Brides
Girls Not Brides

Links:

Feb 4, 2015

PROJECT UPDATE: Bikes & Rights for Girls in Nepal

Dear Bikes & Rights supporters,

In December 2014 you generously contributed to our "Bikes and Rights for Girls in Nepal" campaign on Global Giving. Thank you.

Although our goal was $30,000 CAD, we only raised around $3,000 CAD. But...we weren't discouraged. In true warrior fashion, we will continue forward on our journey to increase education for young girls in the developing world and decrease child marriage. Besides, the campaign isn't over yet...there is still time to raise more.

Last year, we performed a study of two districts in Mid-Western Nepal where child marriage and gender-based violence is particularly high - Surkhet and Banke. Through interviews and focus groups with villagers, we identified the barriers girls face in attending school and avoiding a life of violence and inequality.  We identified those barriers as: the long and unsafe commute to school, violence and harassment met along the way to school, and gender inequality which fostered a difficult and oppressive environment for girls in the area. Quite simply, we found that these communities do not consider important for girls who will soon be married off and seen solely as child bearers and wives. Son preference was also rampant.

From this research came the birth of Bikes & Rights, a project which will provide disadvantaged girls in Mid-Western Nepal with safe bicycles for quick and secure transportation to school, while providing them with powerful mentorship and their parents with human rights awareness sessions that will break the cycle of violence and enhance their freedom and dignity.

YOU helped us kick-start this campaign, and for this we are forever grateful. Although we need more funding to fully implement the program, we have already begun planning for the preliminary implementation of Bikes & Rights with our partners in Nepal. Therefore, your contributions will go a VERY long way in more detailed design of this innovative project which will change the lives of many hopeful girls with dreams of becoming more than just a servant and womb.

Thank you for believing in the human rights of girls everywhere, and their potential to contribute to this world in profound ways.

Sincerely,

Marissa Kokkoros - Founder

Aura Freedom International

 
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