Apr 4, 2017

Empowering Mothers to Empower Communities

Aura Freedom’s Outreach program in Nepal puts the needs of its program participants first. One of these needs that our staff have identified is access to reproductive health and family planning education for young women. This became apparent when staff realized that many of the adolescent girls attending our awareness sessions on child marriage were already married and pregnant or nursing.

In order to address the needs of these young, economically disadvantaged mothers, Aura Freedom is distributing Mommy Kits to adolescent girls and young women who are pregnant and nursing. Designed by local staff with the help of local health experts, these kits contain life-saving items, including:

  • Bathing soap
  • Laundry soap
  • Flannel blanket
  • Towel
  • Nail clippers
  • Comb
  • Undergarments
  • Dressing gown
  • Sanitary napkins
  • Lentils and rice
  • Cloth bag

These items prove essential in ensuring the health of new mothers and their babies, and, ultimately, increase the autonomy of young mothers who lack the financial resources to properly care for their newborn children.

The Mommy Kits are distributed along with additional education:

  • Local health experts to deliver awareness sessions on sexual and reproductive health, family planning, and maternal, newborn and child health
  • Visits from local government agencies who discuss the different birth control methods available
  • Dialogue on the importance of shared decision-making in family planning and childcare – husbands were included in these conversations to facilitate improved co-parenting and address gender roles
  • Discussions on the legal rights of married women and girls

In receiving both the Mommy Kits and practical information on reproductive health, these young mothers are now equipped to properly care for their families. Not only does this empower them both as mothers and as women, it also enables them to do things differently with their own children, breaking the cycle of poverty, violence, and inequality for entire communities.

What better way to empower the future generation of youth than to empower their mothers in pregnancy and shortly after birth?

Anju (pictured below with one of her sons) is an amazing example of this empowerment.

Married as a child and a mother of two, 18-year-old Anju believes Outreach has opened up a whole new world of knowledge for her. She is learning for the first time about family planning, which she and her husband now openly discuss in their home.

As a result, the young couple are now using contraception and recognize the importance of reproductive health. Anju also remains committed to sharing her newfound knowledge with her friends and other community members, and is eager to start teaching her young sons about women’s rights and equality.

Your contributions have made this possible for Anju and for so many women like her. More kits are needed, let's continue to work together and ensure that no woman or girl in need is left behind. 

Thank you all for your continued support! 

"I was surprised to learn women also have rights..
"I was surprised to learn women also have rights..
..I thought only men did. Thank you Aura Freedom."
..I thought only men did. Thank you Aura Freedom."
A pregnant woman receives an Outreach Mommy Kit.
A pregnant woman receives an Outreach Mommy Kit.
Jan 29, 2017

Education for Child Marriage Prevention

PERSEVERANCE DESPITE DIFFICULT TERRAIN & EXTREME WEATHER CONDITIONS

Recently, harsh weather conditions and Shree Bhumimata School's remote location atop the peak of a mountain have rendered construction a little slower than expected.

Nonetheless, all the rubble from the school's original buildings has been cleared away, and our local engineers are hard at work at the school site.

 

THE CONNECTION BETWEEN EDUCATION & CHILD MARRIAGE

In Nepal, the legal age for marriage is 20. Yet despite this law, nearly 40% of Nepali girls are married before the age of 18. The numbers are especially high for lower castes, which are subject to extreme marginalization.

This is the reality in the village where Shree Bhumimata School is located.

With the majority of its population consisting of highly marginalized Indigenous groups, young girls are at an increased risk of being married off early. On top of that, child marriage has been known to increase in the aftermath of disasters, posing further risk to girls all over Nepal after the 2015 earthquake.

And it is a risk Aura Freedom is determined to fight.

In our many consultations with school officials at Shree Bhumimata, we learned that, since the earthquake, "Girls as young as 11 years old are leaving school to be married. Others become pregnant and are forced to discontinue their studies." School Principal

And for many girls – once they have dropped out, it becomes very difficult to ever return.

However, by providing girls with quality education, we can keep them in school longer and in control of their own futures. This means creating a safe and accessible learning environment – both physically and academically.

In rebuilding Shree Bhumimata School to be anti-seismic and include gender-specific toilets, as well as providing teachers with capacity building, gender sensitivity training, and anti-discrimination training, the risk of child marriage and early pregnancy is minimized.

And when girls are given ample opportunity to pursue their education and fulfill their greatest potential - everyone wins.

Harsh weather renders construction difficult.
Harsh weather renders construction difficult.
Safe schools are vital for fighting child marriage
Safe schools are vital for fighting child marriage
When girls are given proper, quality education...
When girls are given proper, quality education...
...they avoid child marriage and live full lives!
...they avoid child marriage and live full lives!
Jan 6, 2017

Get to Know our Outreach Program!

Over the past few months, Aura Freedom’s Outreach program has successfully supported hundreds of vulnerable girls and women. This support has come in several forms.

The backbone and core components of Outreach are education and awareness. These sessions are delivered on a daily basis and are aimed at informing women and girls on their human and legal rights – something many of them are hearing about for the first time.

Key topics include violence against women, gender equality, reproductive and sexual health, and harmful cultural practices, particularly witch-blaming, polygamy, and child marriage. Simply by learning about these rights to which they are entitled, these women have become empowered to demand respect, humanity, and justice.

Trauma counselling is another powerful, significant Outreach activity. Also done daily, counselling is a relatively new service in this region of Nepal, and the need is great – especially for women and girls suffering from violence and abuse. For the first time, with the help of our highly skilled counsellor, they have a safe space to open up, come forward with their stories, and begin their healing process on their own terms.

This program also provides local women with service referrals. In cases when a woman is in need of specialized health or legal assistance, they can easily be referred to the appropriate professional through Outreach. This process is facilitated by the positive working relationships our staff have developed with various stakeholders throughout the communities.

With all of these activities in place, our Outreach program has already begun to create lasting change and transform the lives of countless local women.

Take Sujaya, for instance (photo below). Sujaya is a mother of two. Recently, her husband married a second wife, abandoning both her and their children. Polygamy is a common practice in Nepal.

But Sujaya is a warrior.

With the help of Aura Freedom's Outreach program, she learned about polygamy and filed a case against her husband. Sujaya was successful, gaining full legal ownership of her land along with government compensation. She also secured her own citizenship and a birth certificate for her daughter.

However, for Sujaya, the greatest victory of all is the confidence and strength she now has to fearlessly tackle any obstacle standing in her way. Your donations continue to make this possible for Sujaya and for so many others. It is the difference between a life of violence and isolation, and one of peace and opportunity.

Thank you for your support. Stay tuned for upcoming stories on more women like Sujaya!

Our human rights awareness is new to many women.
Our human rights awareness is new to many women.
Outreach is a safe space for all women and girls.
Outreach is a safe space for all women and girls.
Sujaya gained newfound confidence through Outreach
Sujaya gained newfound confidence through Outreach
 
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