At the end of the year we would like give an update of our activities in May -December 2008 and say a big thank you to all donors who made this possible!
Also in 2009 we will stay focused on providing women practical skill-based training programs with gainful employment opportunities. Our goal is to encourage our fellow Nepali sisters to become self-supportive, independent, decision-making women.
Please, read the attached newsletter for an overview of all our activities in 2008.
Activities May - December 2008:
Training programs in the Far West of Nepal
Women’s Initiation in Eco-Tourisn in the Mugu district
This 6-day training, organized by EWN in close cooperation with local NGO Rural Community Development Services, sought to educate and raise awareness for the positive possibilities of tourism, bringing this potential development tool to more deprived communities. 35 women were inspired by classes such as tourism, cooking, health & hygiene, and conversational English to become more involved in tourism.
Lodge Management Trainings
The first ever training for lodge owners from the Karnali Zone (West Nepal) brought 10 participants to Pokhara in August 2008. The goal: to raise awareness about all aspects of lodge management to improve future tourist services offered in that area. In field visits the participants were inspired to bring home with them successful examples of running and maintaining lodges. This training was followed by a second one in Jumla in November 2008, with 25 participants from four districts: Mugu, Dolpa, Kalikot and Jumla.
Female Trekking Guide Training and Rock Climbing Course
The two Female Trekking Guide Trainings in Pokhara (January and August 2008) saw an increase in participation: over 40 women for each! They all learned about map reading, English, geography, as well as flora, fauna, religion and culture. New additions to the curriculum included entrepreneurship and leadership.
Women are anxious to learn more skills and are looking for advanced training. To meet this need, EWN regularly organizes rock climbing courses. The last one took place in December 2008 and was met with lots of enthusiasm.
Twenty girls, in the age from 8 till 16, from EWN's Children's Rescue Program are now happily living in Pokhara. Three years ago, the girls' education was in jeopardy mainly due to poor family economic conditions, leaving their families no choice but to have their daughters work. Now the girls are enjoying the opportunity to focus on their education. EWN provides them with food, accommodation, clothing, medical care and pays for their school tuition.
Latest Update from the Field Women’s Trek for Peace and Development
Report on Women’s Trek for Peace and Development: March 9th – 20th 2008
Organized by Empowering Women of Nepal, NGO, in partnership with a Canadian INGO ~ CECI (Centre for International Studies and Cooperation)
Women’s Trek for Peace and Development
March 9th – 20th 2008
Empowering Women of Nepal, NGO
In partnership with a Canadian INGO ~ CECI
(Centre for International Studies and Cooperation)
Every year we celebrate International Women’s Day with an Environmental Awareness program in Pokhara valley. This time we decided to do something different and instead we thought to bring together Canadian women and disadvantaged women from remote areas of Nepal to exchange and share experiences.
The Women’s Trek for Peace and Development in solidarity to the heart of the Himalayas program was organized on the occasion of International Women’s Day 2008. It started with a peace rally on March 8th in Pokhara, followed by an opening ceremony at the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB).
There were 3 separate treks in 3 different remote areas of Nepal. EWN was a partner organization for the Jumla/Rara Lake trek, while 3 Sisters organized the logistics for both group treks in west Nepal (Jumla/Rara Lake and Myagdi). There were different themes in different areas: health and eco-tourism on the Jumla – Rara Lake trek; leadership on the Myagdi trek.
Give visibility both nationally and internationally to women’s hopes and creative potential for building peace and participating in development.
1. Promote women’s participation in peace building through local empowerment and international awareness raising.
2. Promote the participation of women in economic development and the eco-tourism industry
3. Promote women’s role in the well-being of their community through improved health awareness.
Jumla – Rara Lake Trek
Lucky joined and led the Jumla – Rara Lake Trek, addressing issues on health and ecotourism, both important topics for the local people. Since 2003, EWN has been working in west Nepal on health concern awareness programs. We have been involved in Jumla & Mugu by providing them with training programs based on the theme of Women’s Initiation in Eco Tourism. These areas will improve their health and by becoming involved in eco-tourism, they can earn cash-earning opportunities in the local communities in Jumla – Mugu.
There are many development programs working for poverty alleviation in these remote areas, but nevertheless we need to reach out to the women there to share our feelings and experiences. Many programs are working for the people, but not listening to them. Our presence will show them that we want to listen to what they have to say and allow a proper exchange of views, instead of telling them what we think they should do. During my interaction with local women they considered us different to them. They feel helpless and hopeless. I believe that just financial and other materialistic help will not be enough for these people unless we personally interact with the local community. They need the chance to talk about their feelings and discuss the opportunities available to them so that they can form possible actions for improvement.
Jumla ~ Mugu falls in the Karnali zone, an area where the culture has remained untouched by modern day civilization. People need development help, but little development work has been done there. There are no proper schools or classrooms. Sanitation is very poor and there is a basic lack of hygiene knowledge. They do not know how to wash their hands properly. They hardly ever brush their teeth and wash their face. They are ignorant about disease and do not realize that they can spread disease through lack of good hygiene with the result that even simple injuries and easily cured illnesses can take their lives. They do have a health post, but this is just somewhere where they can get medicine and is not staffed by medical personnel. There is no medical aid available when the people are in need. Only in the district capital is there a hospital, but it also lacks doctors and nurses. In order to get any medical treatment they must go to Nepalganj, a 45-minute flight away.
The people are unaware about child and mother’s health. According to our research, we found that 80% of children living in this area are suffering from malnutrition. We also discovered that it is not because they do not get enough food to eat, but because they do not know how to eat. All the healthy cereals such as maize, buckwheat, millet and so on are grown here, but they do not use these cereals in the right amount.
Our group used drama to teach the basics of childbirth, health and hygiene. We gave out delivery kits and also distributed medicine at the health post. We also taught them how to wash their hands and later distributed soap and nail cutters.
During our trek we were welcomed by many communities with cultural programs. Experiencing such warm welcomes, despite the obvious poverty, brought tears to many trekkers’ eyes.
This trek was very fruitful for locals as well as for us. Each day and moment was a lesson for all of us. Introducing ecotourism by looking at the communities' needs not only encourages tourism development, but also gives hope for the future to the locals. Hand washing and nail cutting were very simple things to share but also very important ones for their daily lives to be healthy.
Safe motherhood gives them an idea of how to take care of pregnant women and ensure a safe delivery. It also makes them aware that a clean environment is needed for a healthy life. This program inspired women’s groups to work for saving by providing a small donation. Many locals got jobs as porters which brought cash to their villages. They got a chance to walk with women from other countries, sharing many things.
Currently trekking companies who organize treks in west Nepal take all supplies and staff with them, with the result that little or no money is brought into the area. EWN and 3 Sisters are starting a new system of buying and hiring locally. This camping trek put the new system successfully into practice, showing how it should be done as a model for other companies to follow. We are optimistic that we can continue with training and trekking in this area. This area is ideal as a future responsible tourism trekking destination, with many possibilities to explore in this, as yet, untouched traveler destination, offering wonderful experiences full of culture and tradition.
Dicky led the Myagdi trek in the Myagdi region, where the main topic of discussion was devoted to women’s leadership.
Here, village life is still some decades away from today’s world. The same old ways of irrigation are used and the daily lives are as our grandmothers used to have with the same lack of education and opportunities. Girls are deprived of further education and women are still bound to the house and traditional ways.
There is a saying in Nepali “When a female chicken quakes then it is not good” – this means that being a woman, we should not give our opinion. We should always respect what our elders say even though we are not happy and even if it is not fair. We should always listen to what our mother-in-law, father-in-law or husband says. They believe that the women’s role is to be a good daughter-in-law, loving wife and caring mother. In this rural society if a women does or tries to do something good for society or if she speaks out for her rights, then she is considered to be a witch.
She will be treated very badly. In a male dominated society like ours, it is a challenging job for women to lead the way. We discussed with the local mothers' groups the problems they faced during their periods. They have tried to control the harsh violence against women, but it is very difficult. Hopefully the new Nepal will offer the hope of dignity, equality, and the sharing of wealth for women and marginalized people.
Walking off the beaten path for four to six hours every day, the group soon realized that their physical effort was nothing in comparison to the harsh living conditions of the inhabitants of these mountain regions. A lack of essential services, poverty, and constant sickness are a daily reality for 15% of the population of mountain villages in Nepal.
We may not be able to immediately change the lives of these people while on this trek, but we can raise awareness and sooner or later we will hopefully see changes in these women’s lives.
This trek was productive for both visitors and locals. Seeing the women porters, guides, community activity moderators and Nepalese journalists were an inspiration to the young villagers encountered along the way, showing them that women have a part to play in society other than the traditional women’s roles.
Empowering Women of Nepal (EWN) and the Magic Mountain Foundation in Poland held a All-women Ice Climbing Training in Annapurna Base Camp and Tent Peak from Dec 24, 2007 – Jan 17, 2008.
The goal was to:
*Provide technical skills to women
*Involve more Nepali women in adventure tourism
*Produce skilled, quality-service orientated female mountain guides for employment opportunities
*Instill courage and leadership among women
*Increase independence and self-confidence of women
*Encourage women to express their hidden talents and technical skills.
*Trekking guides (any educational background)
*Women with the capabilities and qualities to work as mountain climbing guides
Skills learnt at Annapurna Base Camp:
*Basic rope and harness maneuvers, auto-security techniques using belay equipment, fixing the stand with stripes, belaying on the rope, securing partner
*Basic ice-climbing – walking in crampons on rock-grass and ice, using ice axes.
Comments from the participants:
*Januka ~ I am very happy to have summit Tent Peak. In future I wish to climb Mt Everest and be a mountain guide.
*Saraswati ~ I was unable to summit the peak. Nevertheless I am very happy and thankful to the organizer. I wish and pray in future that the organizer may run another training program like this.
To climb a mountain, whether on ice or rock, one should be physically as well as mentally strong. Therefore we gave this opportunity to those women who were working at 3 Sisters’ Adventure Trekking (P) LTD. We chose 12 participants from them.
This training course is part of our advanced training program. We always thought and dreamt to run this kind of big training program (project) in Pokhara and we finally succeeded. This training program was the first ever Women's Ice Climbing Training in Nepal and also the first winter's ice climbing training. The program received lots of media attention with coverage by many local and national newspapers. Even FM Radio covered the program and also gave an interview with Lucky.
We had 12 participants, but due to bad winter weather conditions only 2 of them had the opportunity to summit Tent Peak. Nevertheless all the participants built up their confidence for snow and ice climbing.
FM Radio also asked for an interview with one of the participants. Januka, one of the climbers who summited Tent Peak, gave an interview. She said it was very hard, but not impossible. She was very excited and some day wishes to be on the top of the world (Mt Everest). She has gained confidence and said if she gets more opportunities like EWN gave, one day she will become a mountain guide.
We organised the first Women's Ice Climbing Training in December 2007-January 2008 for our more experienced guides.
The training took place in Pokhara, at Annapurna Base Camp and Tent Peak. See our report for more information...
Namaste! On the occasion of International Women's Day 2008 and the opening of the Women's Treks for Peace and Development, we organized a rally in the morning on the theme "Tourism opens doors for women". We marched from Sawagrihiya Chowk to Chhipledhunga. In the afternoon we held an opening ceremony for the "Women's Treks for Peace and Development in Solidarity to the Heart of the Himalayas".
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