Support 40 Nepali Conflict Victims

A microproject by The Advocacy Project
Support 40 Nepali Conflict Victims
Support 40 Nepali Conflict Victims
Support 40 Nepali Conflict Victims
Support 40 Nepali Conflict Victims
Support 40 Nepali Conflict Victims
Support 40 Nepali Conflict Victims
Support 40 Nepali Conflict Victims
Support 40 Nepali Conflict Victims
Kancham, proud of her tiger bag!
Kancham, proud of her tiger bag!

This report is offered to friends of The Advocacy Project who have donated to five appeals we have launched on GlobalGiving on behalf of 35 remarkable women in western Nepal. The fifth appeal was posted late last year and is still active.

All 35 women lost loved ones to the disappearances during the conflict in Nepal (1996-2006). It is not surprising that they are still haunted by the memory. The group’s coordinator, Sarita, lost her father after he was falsely accused of Maoist sympathies by a relative. Sarita and her mother were then driven from the village. Sarita's husband died from a snakebite shortly afterwards. Poojah saw her father taken away by the army, never to return, and is still demanding an explanation - even though she is married to a soldier. Most older members of the group work in the fields for a pittance. They need justice. They also need money.

The women live in the district of Bardiya. AP began to support them through Global Giving in 2015. So far, our appeals have raised $15,735 for the cooperative from 259 generous donors, including yourself. We launched the first appeal in 2015 for three partners in Nepal, including the Bardiya cooperative, and divided the proceeds between them.

AP was set up to support community-based associations like the Bardiya cooperative that are led by determined survivors of abuse like Sarita. But we – and the women – also understand that it will take more than determination to produce sustained benefits for the group members.

And this is why they are making bags.

They began in 2016 by using embroidery to describe the disappearance of their loved ones, often in graphic detail. The following year they turned from human rights to the environment, and made squares about the tigers that live in the nearby Bardiya National Park. AP brought the squares to the US where they were assembled into three delightful quilts by Bobbi, a talented quilter from North Carolina.

The women of Bardiya then decided to go into business. They commissioned several shops in Kathmandu to turn their Tiger squares into bags, but were dissatisfied by the result. So they turned to Sarita, who made 30 sample bags at the end of 2018.

And this is where we now stand.

There is no doubt that this project has empowered these brave women. We pay $20 for each piece of embroidery, which puts money in the pockets of the women and gives them the chance to work together and learn new skills. They have shown discipline in sharing out their income at the end of the year. Helped by a new sewing machine, Sarita has become an excellent seamstress and teacher. She dreams of opening a store at the Bardiya National Park where her friends can sell tiger bags to tourists.

This dream, however, will only be realized if the group can sell bags, and this is proving difficult. We do not know why. It could be the quality of the bags, or the cost of production (which includes the $20 paid to artists), or simple competition in a country where every trekker and tourist owns a bag.

It is hard for AP to help from Washington, so we have decided that Bobbi the quilter and Iain from AP will visit Bardiya in April. Bobbi will help the women assemble their commemorative squares into an advocacy quilt to be exhibited in Nepal and the US. She will also advise Sarita on her bag-making – the first time (to our knowledge) that an American quilter has visited the Global South to provide such technical assistance. Iain will seek out markets at tourist lodges and shops in Kathmandu, help the cooperative to design a new business plan, and profile the group on the AP website. Whatever we raise on Global Giving will go to the cooperative.

AP is committed to these women and to their vision. If they can launch a successful business they could influence the national debate in Nepal over how to compensate family-members of the disappeared, which has reached an angry stalemate. But we also understand the importance of investing your donations wisely. Right now, it hangs on finding a market.

Are we on the right track? We would love to hear from you!

In the meantime, know that the ladies of Bardiya are deeply grateful for your support.

We’ll keep you posted!

The AP team

Sarita gives embroidery training in Bardiya
Sarita gives embroidery training in Bardiya
Still missing her father
Still missing her father
Peace Fellows Vicky and Kirstin (2017) in Bardiya
Peace Fellows Vicky and Kirstin (2017) in Bardiya
Bobbi is heading to Nepal to help make Tiger bags
Bobbi is heading to Nepal to help make Tiger bags
Sarita hopes to sell Tiger bags to tourists
Sarita hopes to sell Tiger bags to tourists
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Bardiya group with their tiger designs
Bardiya group with their tiger designs

Greetings from Bardiya, Nepal. The National Network for the Families of the Disappeared (NEFAD) and the Advocacy Project team launched an appeal requesting your investment in an embroidery cooperative for the families of the disappeared in Bardiya, Nepal. We are pleased to report that the funds raised went into creating the first batch of 25 high quality tiger embroidery squares, and the first set of 10 completed tote bags. Inspired by the renowned Bardiya National Park, famous for it’s safaris and Bengal tigers, the women of the cooperative decided to focus on embroidering tigers for their first project.

With the help of your donations, the group purchased embroidery supplies to complete 25 embroidered tiger squares, which will serve as the base of their product line. The primary costs of production included purchasing supplies such as threads, needles and fabric as well as wages for the artists. Over the summer, they have formally established the embroidery cooperative, elected a business leadership committee, completed a business and marketing plan, and sourced tailors to produce sample tote bags as a marketable product. They hope to market their bags to national park visitors.

In addition to teaching the women a marketable skill, the project brought them together to turn their shared grief into something positive and sustainable. The testimonies of the participants are powerful. Fudiya said “Before we were united, it was very difficult to express our grief. We were alone in our homes. We became much stronger together...I am hopeful about my friends working in this group activity where we can share our sorrows and find economic relief while learning skills.” Working towards a common goal together provides some relief from the weight of grief.

Your generous donations allowed the women to receive a higher wage for their craftsmanship. Together, the cooperative decided to each invest half of their wages into the business themselves, to they each now have not just become wage-earners but investors in the project themselves. Besides enabling entrepreneurship and providing a livelihood, your gift allowed them autonomous decision making power. 

The group also is developing leadership skills. They elected a leadership team including a Chairwoman, Secretary, Treasurer, and Marketing leaders. These leadership skills will set them up for success.

Production is a priority as we move into the second phase of the project. The first sample tote bags have been crafted, and the leadership team is evaluating them for quality and design.

Thanks to you, an empowered group of entrepreneurs is launching their startup in Bardiya, Nepal.

Electing the leadership
Electing the leadership
Alina designs her tiger square
Alina designs her tiger square
Voting moment
Voting moment
Hard at work
Hard at work
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Organization Information

The Advocacy Project

Location: Washington, DC - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @AdvocacyProject
Project Leader:
Iain Guest
Washington, DC United States

Funded Project!

Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
   

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