Feb 22, 2016

Unexpected Challenges

A weaver at a GoodWeave factory with her young son
A weaver at a GoodWeave factory with her young son

Dear Global Giver,

It’s now been nearly ten months since the first massive earthquake hit Nepal, and international attention has largely moved on – so it’s quite likely you haven’t heard about a second national crisis that has recently been unfolding.

 In September, a complicated political situation led to the start of a blockade at the India-Nepal border. Over the last several months, this blockade has prevented many essential goods – fuel, medicine, food, and other products – from entering the country. As a result, Nepal’s exports have fallen about 25.4% and an estimated 800,000 people, many of whom are still recovering from last spring’s earthquakes, have been pushed into extreme poverty. Those who lost homes and family members in the earthquakes have now experienced even more severe crisis, as fuel and food prices have surged, home rebuilding is at a standstill and entire villages are experiencing a cold winter without permanent housing. 

Hospitals have run out of drugs, social services have been disrupted and schools have been shuttered, with children bearing the brunt of the impact. As UNICEF has said, the blockade “threatens the future of the country itself.” GoodWeave remains deeply concerned that the stalled economy will have lasting impacts on vulnerable young people. The risk of death and disease among children has dramatically increased, as has the threat of exploitation – we worry that increased levels of poverty mean increased pressure for families to take risks in order to survive. Since the blockade began, GoodWeave staff have observed an increase in child labor cases in comparison to previous years, and our transit home in Kathmandu is now home to a higher number of rescued children than usual.

The carpet industry also continues to struggle. The weaving workforce has not fully recovered since the earthquakes, and while in the immediate aftermath of the disaster we estimated that approximately 30% of GoodWeave workers had left the factories, our team estimates that 15% of the workforce still has not returned. Many of these absent workers remain in home villages where destroyed houses have not been rebuilt and temporary shelters remain the norm. At the same time, the weavers who continue to work have to spend time waiting in lines for gas and collecting firewood, which means that they are weaving for fewer hours and earning lower incomes.

Because the materials for the planned home rebuilding come from India, the blockade has delayed this part of GoodWeave’s earthquake recovery efforts. Transportation, too, is extremely expensive because fuel prices have shot up. Due to this unexpected crisis, our team has spent the last few months making as many preparations as possible – planning, hiring and training additional staff – so that the home rebuilding process can begin as soon as materials can be transported to weavers’ home villages in Sindhupalchowk. In the meantime, with your support, GoodWeave has been working to provide school fees to more than 150 children of weavers so that they can remain in school and maintain a sense of safety and security.

The blockade is now ending and the flow of goods slowly resuming. However, the fuel shortage persists and we don’t expect things to return to “normal” for several months. GoodWeave remains committed to supporting vulnerable weaving families and former child laborers through the aftermath of multiple crises, and we are eager to move forward with home rebuilding so that families can regain stability. We plan to update you as soon as this work is feasible. Thank you for your generosity and understanding as our team faces such a difficult situation.

Gratefully,

Nina

Nov 25, 2015

A reunion - and a moment of gratitude.

Sanju, age 14.
Sanju, age 14.

Dear Global Giver,

Before I left Nepal this summer, there was someone I had to see.

More than a year ago, GoodWeave released a video featuring an inspiring young girl who you might recognize- Sanju. We rescued her from bonded labor in the carpet industry back in 2012. The animated short, Stand with Sanju, has been viewed over 20,000 times and covered in media ranging from CNN to The Christian Science Monitor. Supporters like you helped us to bring freedom, safety, and an education to this young girl – and the film ends with Sanju back at home and attending school for the first time.

But the story didn’t end there.

When GoodWeave reunites children with their family, we continue to support their education and regularly visit to check on their school attendance and overall wellbeing.  This is an important part of the rehabilitation that you enable us to provide when you donate to our project on GlobalGiving.

As her mother braided her hair on the morning of April 25 of this year, Sanju started to feel dizzy.  Then, as things began to fall down, she heard her father shout, “Earthquake!”

This was the first of two earthquakes that rocked Nepal this spring, destroying homes and schools, including those of our champion and inspiration, Sanju. In the aftermath, Sanju’s parents sent her to the only other home she’s ever known – Hamro Ghar. Within a week, we found her a spot at one of Nepal’s top schools. 

The daughter of subsistence farmers and former “carpet kid” now aspires to be a doctor. She giggles when she says that aloud, but if you look in her eyes, there is a belief that she can do it.  We need your continued support to end child labor and help the next young girl imagine what she wants to be when she grows up.

We recently told Sanju about you and all those who stood with her.  She replied, “To all the ma’ams (teachers) and all the sirs who brought me here, I want to say thank you.” (Hear Sanju's message of gratitude on our website.)

You helped bring Sanju to safety and to school – not once, but twice. And it’s because of you that Hamro Ghar has continued to be a safe place for her and many others. This Thanksgiving, this message of gratitude from a girl who survived exploitation and an earthquake is directed to you.

Sincerely,

 

Nina Smith

Executive Director

GoodWeave

Nina and Sanju reunite at Sanju's new school.
Nina and Sanju reunite at Sanju's new school.
Sanju and her friend Maya back in 2012.
Sanju and her friend Maya back in 2012.
At Sanju's new school, she and Maya have reunited.
At Sanju's new school, she and Maya have reunited.

Links:

Nov 24, 2015

An update on the road to recovery.

Mother and child living in temporary housing.
Mother and child living in temporary housing.

Dear Global Giver,

Recently our project page underwent several changes, from the title all the way to some very specific details about how and who your donation is going to help. Your support has been essential to our response in the months after Nepal’s massive earthquakes in April and May, and I want to thank you and explain why we made some of these changes. I hope you’ll be as excited as we are about the projects we have been able to launch in Nepal with your support.

As you know, our immediate response to the earthquakes last spring focused on providing urgent relief in the GoodWeave community- with beneficiaries including former child laborers, vulnerable carpet weaving families, and carpet industry employers. Initially, our project on GlobalGiving generated funds that went directly to our Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund to provide food, water, medical care and shelter to those most in need. Then we evaluated the damage to our program facilities, as well as to the homes of weavers and industry infrastructure.

While a majority of weavers live and work in Kathmandu, in many cases they leave behind both immediate and extended family members in rural villages who they support financially. Through this evaluation process, we found that approximately 800 families of weavers had lost their homes to the disaster with the majority in the districts of Makwanpur, Dolakha, Ramechhap, Nuwakot, Sindupalchok and Kavrepalanchok. For these vulnerable families, the risk of going into debt is acute. Until they rebuild their homes, most weavers cannot return to work in Kathmandu and earn an income – an income they depend on to provide for their children’s wellbeing and education. At the same time, the carpet industry, which was experiencing a severe worker shortage prior to the earthquake, now struggles with an even greater dearth of skilled weavers as producers attempt to restart their operations.

Part of our long-term plan is to offer vulnerable families an integrated package of support to rebuild their homes, educate their children, and receive psychological counseling. We’ve received funding for some of this project, and are now seeking your support so that more of these families can fully rebuild safe, permanent houses in their home villages. Every family that receives housing support will also have school tuition paid for their school-age kids, provided through a match by a generous donor.

The homes will be earthquake-proof and made with high-quality materials to last for decades. When offered together with education support and counseling, the housing will enable these households to regain economic stability and avoid falling into severe poverty. Not only will they have access to stable housing in their home communities, but they will also be able to avert exploitation – including debt-bondage and child labor in factories or brick kilns. This near-term support will enable weavers get back to work sooner, restore their previous income, and be able to cover short- and long-term family needs. Children will also be protected during this period of vulnerability as they continue their educations.

I hope you will continue to support our efforts to bring stability to the lives of vulnerable weaving families. Please let us know if you have any questions about our ongoing work in Nepal.

Thank you again.

Sincerely,

Nina

The family of a GoodWeave-licensed factory owner.
The family of a GoodWeave-licensed factory owner.
 
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