The quakes of 2015 brought home two important needs in the rural villages.
We're happy to report that we are addressing both at Her Farm, and creating jobs for women at the same time. Construction of a 2000 + sf emergency shelter at Her Farm is nearly complete. The facility can house 150 people, nearly the entire village population and has a clinic on-site to render first aid as well. (See photo). Constructed to the latest earthquake resistance standards (and actually way beyond that) the building is the only disaster shelter that exists in a rural farm community in Nepal. The facilty has back up power systems, a 10,000 gallon freshwater supply and will soon have an FM radio station for communication as well. The building will be in service by the end of September, 2017. There is nothing like this Emergency Center in any other village in Nepal.
The FM radio will be operated entirely by women and can inform authorities in times of disaster what the conditions are in the villages so that relief and aid can be properly directed. We will begin training women from the villages in fall 2017 to act as community correspondents. As such, they will have cameras, video cameras, voice recorders and training in how to use them. They will be able to gather facts quickly from nearby villages for distribution via our FM station. These women, thanks to generous Patrons via Patreon will receive regular monthly salaries and gather regular stories from the villages for our FM station to broadcast not only in times of emergency, but on a regular basis so that news from the villages can be broadcast to other villages.
Being able to provide paid positions for these "community correspondents" is actually HUGE. There aren't cash paying jobs in farm villages, for women especially. One of the reasons for such out-migration from the villages to the cities in recent years is due to the fact that people want things that money can buy and subsistence farming doesn't generate much cash. Jobs, other than occasional and seasonal farm labor, which is very poorly paid, do not exist in the villages.
We will begin by employing up to 6 women as community correspondents and add more in the future. Refer to the attached photos to better understand the importance of this and how it works.
Low-power, women owned and operated FM radio is coming in fall 2017 to Her Farm. One of the women who lives at Her Farm is a nationally known journalist and was a radio announcer for four years, prior to moving to Her Farm. People in the village listen to radio as their primary source for news and entertainment. A low-power FM station will reach the entire population of Mankhu, where Her Farm is located and the villages of Goganpani, Chakmaki, and Mahadevbesi. A total population reach of approximately 2,200 people. The programming for this station will include local news, radio drama, programs on women's health, women's talk radio with local women discussing issues and challenges relevent to every day life for women in the villages as well as English language lessons and local musicians and singers. Much of the broadcasting equipment is already in place and we have applied for a license as a "community radio station" with the Government of Nepal.
It's truly exciting to think that our Her Farm women will be able to provide media communication that is focused on women in a nation where very little media is directed at women, and virtually no media is 100% women owned and operated. We hope all of you will help support women's FM radio in Nepal.
In our last report we talked about teaching the women of Her Farm skills in the areas of photography, podcasting and filmmaking. These are important skills for the women at Her Farm who are in leadership positions as it creates instant status in the community, in addition, we will soon be adding a women owned and operated FM station at Her Farm where some of the women will work, so understanding sound recording, interview techniques and how to prepare for an interview are skills they will be using for the radio station.
One of the issues facing women in Nepal is the simple fact that there's just not enough media coverage of women's issues. The media is male dominated and not interested in stories of women. In fact, I asked a woman journalist I know recently "how many other women were studying journalism at the same time as you?" She replied, many women were in school with her, but none were working as journalists. They graduated, they got married, they had children and never used the eduction at all. I am personally aware of just one, working photojournalist in the country who is female.
Our film and podcast work is intended to raise the voices of women and counter this media bias and to capture the stories, from heroic to horrific, of the every day live of women. One video I'm sharing with this report does just that. It's the story of 84 year old Bishnu Maya from Mankhu Village, Dhading District, Nepal. At 2 she lost both feet in the 1934 earthquake that struck Nepal. At 9 she is married to a mature man. She didn't have children until she was in her 30's and then had 9, but several did not survive. She found a shoemaker to make her some shoes that she designed that allowed her to work and spent her life working in the fields of a farm. She became a widow at around age 40. Today she has vision problems brought on by very high blood sugar levels but claims that if she can fix her vision, she's ready to go back to working and can work as hard as anyone. Faced with all the issues she has throughout her life, she's confident. strong and forward looking. She's an amazing person and serves as an inspiration for women and for those with disabilities. This is in Nepali language and one of the Her Farm women conducts the interview while another operates the camera and sound.
The next video link is an in-studio interview with a young woman named Belmaya. Belmaya, with the help of a woman from the UK is seeking to create her first short film about the life of a woman who works in commerical fishing in Nepal, not a job where women are expected to be found and the woman faces a lot of abuse for working a "man's job". Belmaya herself has had a very hard life and faces a difficult time in wanting to make films. Sushila, from Her Farm speaks with her about the challenges she faces as a young woman trying to create films including family pressures to do something different. Again, this in Nepal since its Nepali women who are the intended audience.
I hope you can appreciate how hard our women have worked to create these, the skills they had to learn and master. It's a start, it's a voice where there has not been a voice before and it wil multiply.
Thank you so much for your continued interest and support.
The women of Her Farm Nepal have had a keen interest in podcasting, photography and filmmaking for some time. Recently we set up a studio at Her Farm to encourage them to explore these interests more fully. We’ve just completed our first full podcast from the village. A young Nepali woman named Belmaya has been learning video and photo skills with assistance from a woman from the UK. Belmaya visited Her Farm to see our studio and talk with the women of Her Farm about creating podcasts, videos and photos. Sushila sat down with Belmaya in the studio and conducted a 16 minute long interview about the challenges that Belmaya, as a married woman with a child, has faced in trying to produce her first video. The link attached to this report is the audio of that interview. It’s recorded in Nepali language. At the same time Sushila was conducting the interview, Namuna and Laxcha were filming it on two different cameras. The girls are now learning how to edit that video and we will update this report soon with the video of the interview.
Dear Her Farm Supporter,
So much has happened recently at Her Farm that it's hard to know where to begin. As our last report said, our family grew with the addition of more women and children and there's now 28 people living full-time at Her Farm. As many of you know, following the 2015 earthquakes our village sustained a lot of damage. Most homes were destroyed, the water supply for the village failed and left us with barely enough drinking water and no water for crop irrigation, the road to the village, a lifeline for supplies in and farm products was damaged and even if the road hadn't been damaged, the single truck that brought supplies up and took crops out broke down. That's a lot of challenges to face all at once. The women of Her Farm are some of the most extraordinary people you will meet anyplace on earth. They faced each and every challenge head on and solved them all, with your financial help. The women are in charge of the community loan fund which provides zero interest loans and flexible repayment terms to anyone in the village wanting to rebuild their home. The Government has been slow to respond and only a handful of those who lost homes have received any assistance from the GoN to date. But the women of Her Farm have managed over $50,000 in loans to those who chose not to wait on the government but to rebuild now. One family not only rebuilt from these loans but added to it's herd of dairy cows and dairy buffalo and is now selling paneer to buyers in Kathmandu and supporting themselves well from the sales.
Buying and selling of land in Nepal is considered a man's job. Few, very few women even own land, (unlike the women of Her Farm who own the farm) so when we needed to negotiate the purchase of a parcel of land that had a very productive water resource on it, you can imagine what the landowner first thought when tiny, 22 year old Usha showed up for the negotiations. The landowner of course wanted to know where her husband, or brother or some other male family member was and was at first reluctant to believe this demure, young woman could possibly be a serious buyer. In the end. he capitulated and the deal was done. The land, and the precious water resource it held became part of Her Farm. But, that's not the end of the story. The women of Her Farm still needed to get the water from where it was to where it needed to be. They contracted 38 local men to trench and lay pipe so the water would reach a 10,000 gallon water tank at Her Farm. From that tank nearly the entire village is once again supplied with plenty of water. Amazing undertaking.
Next, the women tackled the road issue. Again, with support from GlobalGiving we were able to completely regrade the road to the village and in the process also made it twice as wide as it had been before. To widen the road required that the private farm land on both sides of the road be given up by its owners. Convincing a struggling Nepali farmer to give up precious farm land for the greater good of the community is no mean feat, but it happened. Every single landowner cooperated.
Her Farm is about to begin it's final post-earthquake project which is to prepare for the next disaster. In Nepal, there isn't a system of "safe places" that are stocked and ready to take in those impacted by quakes, landslides or other natural disasters such as we have in the West. There isn't a disaster response agency, emergency radio network or designated gathering place. There soon will be at Her Farm. We are about to start construction on a 5000sf facility that will house a medical clinic, small medical lab, food supplies, tailor and clothmaking shop and provide room for 150 people to live in times of disaster. The disaster center will have solar and battery back up systems for power, water and food stores and even a community FM radio station (owned and operated by the women of Her Farm, of course) to disseminate critical information to the villages served.
Funding for the building of the disaster center has been secured. Funding for cots, cooking equipment, blankets, emergency food stocks and for the radio station has not been secured so we are counting on all of you at GlobalGiving to lend a hand and help us create one of the very few disaster preparedness centers in Nepal.
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