Dec 27, 2017

We're lifting the stigma of menstrual health with youth!

Photo:M.Glinsbockel on assignment for Aura Freedom
Photo:M.Glinsbockel on assignment for Aura Freedom

All around the world, even in the West, talking about menstrual health is uncomfortable.

WHY?

What's with the shame? It's our biology... it's what makes us female... what makes us HUMAN. It enables women to bring life into the world, if they so choose.

If you ask us, women's menstruation should be cherished, not hidden.

Aura Freedom's Outreach, Knowledge, Change program is lifting the stigma and breaking the silence on female menstrual health, and giving young girls in Nepal the tools they need to practice good hygiene and enjoy good reproductive health.

In many Nepali communities, menstruation is shamed and hidden, making young girls feel at fault for their own biology. In extreme cases, some communities still enforce "chaupadi" a harmful cultural practice which banishes young girls to animal sheds during their menstruation, further isolating them from the community, perpetuating gender inequality, and in some cases, subjecting them to dangerous living conditions.

Our local Outreach staff host awareness sessions with young girls in rural areas to discuss menstrual and reproductive health, something that is normally taboo in Nepal. Through the sessions, they learn that their bodily functions are normal and important. Young participants are able to ask questions and speak freely about their bodies, which is so important for adolescent girls to do. 

Sanitary pads are also provided for the participants, as many cannot afford them and may use other menstruation management methods which can lead to poor hygiene and even infection.

Of course, the distribution of sanitary pads is a super useful component of the program for the class participants. However, it is the education and the KNOWLEDGE, not the pads, that make the program powerful and create lasting change.

Being able to manage mensturation also increases school attendance, which ultimately leads to a reduction in poverty and gender-based violence, which is our ultimate goal.

 

Thank you for supporting this important project!

Young participants discuss menstruation and stigma
Young participants discuss menstruation and stigma
Outreach participants receive sanitary pads.
Outreach participants receive sanitary pads.
Our dream:To see all girls live free from violence
Our dream:To see all girls live free from violence
Oct 25, 2017

The students of Shree Bhumimata School

All children deserve a safe place to learn.
All children deserve a safe place to learn.

The 225+ students of Shree Bhumimata School are underprivileged children of the surrounding community of Chalal Ganesthan. 

There are approximately 125 girls and 100 boys currently enrolled in the school, which accommodates Grades 1-10. Our goal is to make sure these children complete school. Rebuilding the damaged classrooms, offices and library will ensure they have a safe place to learn.

Most of the children (90%) come from the Tamang tribe and more than half of them belong to families in fragile economic conditions. Child marriage and other harmful cultural practices are common in these communities, making girls more vulnerable.

According to the head master and teachers at the school, many youths in the community, due to the low economic status of both the region and their families, end up taking low-paying jobs to help support themselves and their families. Ensuring these young individuals stay in school and acquire job skills will not only benefit them, but countless others. 

The secondary beneficiaries are many. The empowerment that the new school will bring to the families and relatives of the students is immense. It is expected that at least 2000-3000 beneficiaries from the marginalized community will benefit from this project, including women, men, youths, the elderly, community leaders, teachers, journalists, researchers and change-makers.

Education is the only way to break the cycle of violence and poverty, which makes the Shree Bhumimata School rebuild project even more important. We thank you for your continued support!

Inside one of the earthquake-damaged classrooms.
Inside one of the earthquake-damaged classrooms.
Roof of one of the new school classrooms
Roof of one of the new school classrooms
Education for girls is especially crucial in Nepal
Education for girls is especially crucial in Nepal
Sep 27, 2017

Meet Shakti: Leader of her village's 'GBV Watch Group'

Shakti - Gender-Based Violence Watch Group Leader
Shakti - Gender-Based Violence Watch Group Leader

We believe a determined woman is one of the most powerful forces on earth.

 

“We should not have to bear these problems any longer – we should stand up and speak up!”

These are the empowered words of 25-year-old Shakti.

Shakti is the mother of two young children and a passionate participant of our Outreach program. As the Secretary of her community’s Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Watch Group, which is an Outreach initiative, Shakti is now a strong advocate for anti-violence and women’s rights.

She also shares much of what she is learning about GBV, gender equality, and the legal rights of women with her husband, who is beginning to talk more openly about the issues affecting their family, including violence.

We are in awe of Shakti’s strength and determination. 

The GBV Watch Group is an integral part of Aura Freedom's Outreach program. A Watch Group is formed in each of the communities we work in. Members of the group are residents of the community who show interest in GBV prevention activities and their participation is completely voluntary. The Watch Group size varies depending on the community size and the different groups within the community, but are typically comprised of 10-15 members. The criteria are that the groups have 75%-90% female participation from different age groups and ethnic backgrounds based on community demographics. The remaining 10-25% male participation is selected by the female group members themselves. When possible, an adolescent boy and girl are included in the Group.

The Watch Groups are given specific training by our staff on identifying different forms of gender-based violence, legal provisions related to GBV, and referral networks. Special emphasis is placed on risks that typically increase in the aftermath of disasters and are of particular concern in Nepal, such as human trafficking, child marriage and unsafe migration. They are also given information on gender equality and how to contribute to the dismantling of harmful gender norms. The GBV Watch Groups meet regularly and the meetings are attended by a member of project staff in order to foster better collaboration and support.

The role of the Watch Group is to monitor the security situation for women and girls in the community, address risks and challenges, and refer community members to services, if needed. The idea behind the formation of these groups is to assist project staff in attaining project objectives and to increase the sustainability of the project once the staff leaves the community. Essentially, they are community members who are educated in the rights of their community members and will go on to act as outreach volunteers for local women and girls in need.

There is nothing more sustainable than providing local communities with education and knowledge in order to respond to their own needs and issues, and the Watch Group does just that.

Some GBV Watch Group members and their little ones
Some GBV Watch Group members and their little ones
Training for some GBV Watch Group members
Training for some GBV Watch Group members
Men are also involved in our Outreach program
Men are also involved in our Outreach program
 
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