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.
Sep 1, 2015

An image I won't forget.

Som's children in their makeshift tent.
Som's children in their makeshift tent.

Dear GlobalGivers,

The images from my recent trip to Nepal are still fresh in my mind. One in particular is hard to forget.

For my second update, I’d like to tell you about my talks with weavers to hear their concerns, meet their families, and ask for their ideas. I spoke with Som, who had recently returned to Kathmandu from his village in Sarlahi, along with his wife and three children. At first, they rented a room in the city, but because of all the aftershocks, they found it hard to summon the courage to sleep inside. So, like more than 100,000 others, they set up a tent outside.

I walked into the tent that is now Som’s temporary home and I saw a sarong stretched into a makeshift cradle with a baby inside. The air was heavy and damp, as monsoon rains have already begun and will only get worse. 

The image above - which recently won the most votes in the Relief category for GlobalGiving's yearly photo contest- was snapped at that moment. As I looked at this scene of incredible vulnerability, I thought of the words from GoodWeave partner and respected exporter, Bala. Reflecting on recent months, Bala said: “Stability has been dismantled.”

The instability applies to emotions, infrastructure and to the economy. GoodWeave Nepal was retained by the International Finance Corporation to contribute data on the extent of damages to the carpet industry, because it’s a primary sector to Nepal. In our assessment, we found that at least 800 workers in our licensee supply chains had their homes totally collapse. We also estimate that 30% of carpet workers have fled the city. Some left to check on their family, others feared the outbreak of disease, and many went abroad in search of better opportunities.

At GoodWeave, our main mission is to protect children. The adult labor shortage poses a huge risk to boys and girls who are already being recruited by traffickers seizing on the tenuous situation. As a result, many conversations in the field centered on one question – how to bring adult workers back to the capital? I’m happy to report that GoodWeave is working on both a short and long-term solution.

In the short-term, GoodWeave has secured funding to support vulnerable workers to rebuild their homes, pay school fees for their children and receive psycho-social counseling. We heard that restoring stability in these fundamental ways will enable weavers to get back to work.

In the longer-term, GoodWeave is expanding its Weaving Opportunities program, which trains women in this craft and to be breadwinners for their family. It is a way to ensure that children do not fill the void on the looms and that Nepalese rugs retain their place in the world’s market.

With your support, GoodWeave is getting adults into safer homes and better jobs, so that children can be children. On behalf of Som, and the all those who are feeling a newfound sense of stability – thank you.

Gratefully,

Nina Smith

Executive Director 

Som, a carpet weaver, at the factory site.
Som, a carpet weaver, at the factory site.

Links:

Aug 27, 2015

Sumitra's Journey Back to School

Sumitra, 11, studies in class at Hamro Ghar.
Sumitra, 11, studies in class at Hamro Ghar.

Dear GlobalGivers,

Here in the United States, it’s nearly time for a new school year to begin. Parents and children are busy shopping for school supplies, organizing carpools, and meeting new teachers. It’s an exciting time – full of anticipation, sharpened pencils and sometimes a few tears.

Going back to school looks different around the world, and in Nepal, the new year began a few months ago. But for the children who fill the classrooms at Hamro Ghar, every school day is a chance at a brighter future. Every child who sits at a desk once sat at a carpet loom, including Sumitra.

When Sumitra was a young girl, she attended school in the rural village where she lived with her parents, sister and brother. However, after her family moved to Kathmandu in search of employment opportunities, her parents faced financial crisis and could no longer afford to pay her school fees. She was forced to drop out of school and work weaving carpets in a factory.

In January, Sumitra was found in the factory by a GoodWeave inspector. He brought her to Hamro Ghar, where she is currently receiving support to continue her education. She dreams of one day becoming a nurse.

I met Sumitra during my recent visit to Nepal, and was struck by her confidence and bright smile. Although she is one of the smallest students at Hamro Ghar, her commitment to learning and curious nature make her a leader among her peers. And it’s because of you that today she sits in a classroom, pencil in hand, instead of in a carpet factory.

The recent earthquake in Nepal has made many children and families more vulnerable. To us, the aftermath of the disaster has underscored the urgent importance of GoodWeave’s work to ensure that children are protected from child labor and trafficking and receive educational opportunities. With your continued support, we can help many more children like Sumitra get “back to school.”

On behalf of Sumitra and all of the children of Hamro Ghar, thank you.

Gratefully,

Nina

Sumitra and a friend enjoy lunch at Hamro Ghar.
Sumitra and a friend enjoy lunch at Hamro Ghar.
Meditation is a daily part of Sumitra's schedule.
Meditation is a daily part of Sumitra's schedule.
 
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