Nov 25, 2016

We've done it!

That’s right – our Female Friendly Space (FFS) project has officially been fully funded – and it is all thanks to your support.

Over the past year, we have witnessed incredible change as a result of our FFS. Despite the grave tragedy these communities endured following the earthquake, women came together.

There was hope. Resilience. And an indomitable eagerness to rise above their circumstances.

And rise they did.

Through our FFS, women and girls gained an education unlike any they’d known before. Learning about their basic human and legal rights, and violence against women. About human trafficking, safe migration, and harmful cultural practices. About mental health, family planning, and personal hygiene. The importance of education. Life skills. Finance. Literacy. The list goes on.

And things didn’t stop there.

Through our coordination with local stakeholders, we regularly referred women to health and legal services as needed, and provided trauma counselling within the FFS. After learning about the importance of vital registration, we also assisted women with obtaining their identity documents and certificates.

But we are not done.

We saw what the FFS accomplished for so many women and girls, and we cannot let it end there. For that reason, we are thrilled to share that our FFS has evolved into what is our current Outreach program.

We are now reaching more women and girls in new communities where gender-based violence is rampant and access to services and education are very much needed. The program also targets the most vulnerable women and girls, including those from marginalized ethnic groups, who endure unspeakable violence in their homes and villages.

Already, women are sharing just how much the Outreach program has positively impacted their lives. They are also reporting that attitudes and behaviours surrounding gender equality and violence in their communities have begun to change for the better.

Thank you all once again for your kindness, generosity, and selfless contributions to our work. Help us continue reaching women in need by donating to Outreach today! We simply cannot do it without you.

THANK YOU! We couldn't have done it without you.
THANK YOU! We couldn't have done it without you.
Nov 1, 2016

What Education can do for a Village

So far, much of this project has entailed planning and assessments of physical attributesbuilding a new school, seismic-resistant construction, soil testing, solar power systems…

These are, without a doubt, extremely important – it was, after all, intense seismic activity that destroyed Shree Bhumimata School. Aura Freedom is absolutely committed to building back better.

But a school is so much more than a building. For communities living in poverty, it is opportunity.

Education is powerful in a myriad of ways. An excellent example of this is health. The education of girls in particular has a strong positive influence on maternal health and goes a long way in the prevention of maternal deaths and infant mortality. It also affects fertility, with rates dropping by 10% with every additional year of female education. This is extremely critical given the rates of child marriage at Shree Bhumimata School.

Aside from these life-preserving benefits, education is also strongly linked to economic prosperity. With literacy, knowledge, and skills, educated children become educated, creative, and innovative contributing members of society. On a national level, this goes on to have a significant, positive effect on GDP and economic growth. For the children who attend Shree Bhumimata School, the majority of whom come from extremely marginalized groups, the economic opportunity afforded by education is priceless.

Lastly, education is crucial for the empowerment of girls and women. When girls are educated, they are less likely to experience child marriage or early pregnancy. Education also enables girls to grow into economically autonomous women, whose salaries can increase by up to 20% with each additional year of schooling. In fact, when given the chance, women have proven to invest more in their families and in their communities than their male counterparts. When girls and women win, everyone wins.

Each of these and more are our goals for the children of Shree Bhumimata School. In combination with physically rebuilding a safe school, providing its teachers with capacity building and gender sensitivity training will ensure an ideal learning environment that promotes tolerance and inclusion, and intrinsically motivates its students.

And it is in this environment where we begin to see the ripple effects of change – leading to long-term, sustainable impact – take place. 

Educated children hold tremendous power.
Educated children hold tremendous power.
A safe, dignified learning environment is crucial.
A safe, dignified learning environment is crucial.
Educated girls benefit entire communities.
Educated girls benefit entire communities.
Oct 26, 2016

The Promise of Life Skills

Women gather in our FFS in Damgade.
Women gather in our FFS in Damgade.

Aura Freedom's post-earthquake Female Friendly Spaces (FFS) are all about education and awareness - disseminating life-saving information to women and girls on their human and legal rights to protect them against violence and exploitation.

But information isn’t the only thing we’ve shared. In each Female Friendly Space (FFS), we’ve hosted regular literacy classes and life skills training – and the results have been nothing short of amazing.

For many of the women in our FFS, this was their first time receiving 'formal' education. But despite being illiterate, they were eager students, quickly learning the alphabet and how to write their own names.

While this may seem simple, the ability to write their names and addresses enabled them to complete vital registration and obtain their identification documents. This powerful act not only faciliates exercising their rights, it also fosters an incredible sense of accomplishment and goes a long way in increasing the self-confidence of these women.

In terms of life skills, the women in our FFS received training on knitting and income generation. Before long, these warriors had mastered these skills, creating beautiful pieces they have been able to sell in local markets. In a time of so much uncertainty following the destruction of the earthquake, these survivors are successfully earning a living from their very own creations. Now, that is resilience!

Behmaya (photo below) is a perfect example of such resilience. Badly injured in the earthquake, she also lost her daughter. Yet, despite her hardship, Behmaya has been an active participant in our life skills training sessions. In fact, with the skills she has learned, she earns enough of an income by selling her knitted creations to provide for her family.

In the end, a little life skills goes a long way in empowering not only these women, but entire communities.

Literacy classes are empowering for women.
Literacy classes are empowering for women.
A mother multi-tasks during literacy class.
A mother multi-tasks during literacy class.
Life skills give women a chance to earn a living.
Life skills give women a chance to earn a living.
Behmaya is a testament to the strength of women.
Behmaya is a testament to the strength of women.
 
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