WHY WE ARE HERE: In rural Nepal widows have a very low average age, because girls at a very young age can be given in marriage to older men just after their first menses. Marriages are arranged by families and it is rare to find marriages outside one own caste. It often happens that, after having married, the man dies at work or due to poor higenic conditions, leaving them widow for the rest of their lives. Young widows remain in the patriarchal family, where in many cases they are subject to violence and abuse by other male family members. A 30% of them is illiterate. A high percentage of them attempts suicide.
According to the local beliefs, when a woman becomes a widow, even if her husband died hundreds kilometers away, is considered the leading cause of death. She loses any social value, she is believed to bring misfortune and is considered a witch. These women and girls are considered “impure” and must wear the white color of mourning for the rest of their life. They cannot wear colorful clothes and embellishments, their hair is shaved off and their bracelets and necklaces, symbols of the marriage, are broken and thrown away. Widows are hold up to ridicule on the streets and cannot attend weddings or other religious services, they have to eat unsalted food and cannot eat fruits and vegetables. Even their children are stigmatized as children who can no longer receive strength and courage from their father. According to the rural tradition, they are not worth of their family’s help and support in education.
OUR PARTNER IN NEPAL: in Nepal, Women For Freedom collaborates with the ONG WOMEN FOR HUMAN RIGHTS, founded in 1994 by a small group of single women. Its initial aim was to encourage single women to step outside the confines of their home and share their sorrow, fears and frustration. Over the years, these brave women started to work together to boost their self-confidence and empower themselves. They now manage to support more than 100000 Nepali single women, empowering them to be their own agents of change, encouraging their meaningful participation at decision making levels in the social, economic and political spheres.
WHAT WE DO HERE: WOMEN FOR FREEDOM, in collaboration with WOMEN FOR HUMAN RIGHTS, fights against gender discrimination by supporting the partner’s activities: training on effective savings and credit methods, social advocacy, income generating activities, education for single women and their children, building of first-aid centres for victims of violence. Just days after the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal on April 25th, 2015, WOMEN FOR FREEDOM sent to the partner first-aid kits, water tanks and emergency shelters for the disaster’s survivors. When the winter came, we provided blankets and warm clothes for women and children. We are currently running projects regarding education, micro-financing, first-aid for women in need.
Scroll down to read about the projects we have already successfully completed and those that still require your help.
PROJECT CHHAHARI “under the shadow of a big tree” (started in 2014) ACTIVE PROJECT: In Nepal, we already support five reception and first aid centers called “Chhahari” which in Nepali language means “under the shadow of a big tree”. They are located in all five Nepali macro-regions, in order to cover the whole country. Inside the “Chhahari”, single women with their children and widow girls can find shelter, health care, psychological support and legal assistance. After having regained confidence in themselves, learnt a job, managed to become independent thus not having to submit to the rules of the patriarchal family, these women go back to the society and are FREE. Now WOMEN FOR HUMAN RIGHTS has the ambitious project to build a new Chhahari in Kathmandu. This facility will have 50-bed capacity, estimating in at least 200 women and girls recovered each year. After training and support, these women will leave the facility and will be independent and autonomous. Women For Freedom supports WOMEN FOR HUMAN RIGHTS in the construction of this center. This initiative will give more power to the local partner, already engaged in the fight for the rights of women and widow girls in Nepal, because it will be of exclusive property of the association. WOMEN FOR HUMAN RIGHTS is getting every day more stronger in Nepal and this new center will help them to be even more.
*** Join us! Help these young widows and girls to get back their rights and their lives!
With €20 we will teach to a widow girl to read and write
With € 50/100 You help us to build the new reception center
MICRO CREDIT PROJECT (started in 2014) ACTIVE PROJECT: WOMEN FOR FREEDOM supports women with micro credit to launch small businesses. In Nepal only wealthy people have access to credit, while those with nothing lack the basic input to develop their own ideas. This happens in particular with women, that are considered unable to manage their own business and, as a consequence, to be financially independent. Together with our partner WOMEN FOR HUMAN RIGHTS, we have a different opinion, and the figures prove us right. The micro credit in Nepal works very well with women because they are hard-working and responsible: we have a rate of return that exceeds 90%. Thanks to micro-credit, single women become hairdressers, open small shops, breed animals. In the long run, they manage to return the funds they received, and invest on their children’s education so they will be able, in the future, to take care of their mothers.
*** Help us to give a chance to those who want and need to work to improve their lives!
With € 50 you donate a professional development course to a woman
With € 100 you help to launch a small business (chicken breeding, shop, floriculture …)
With € 250 you support the Start-up of an agricultural cooperative (chicken breeding, shop, floriculture …)
EARTHQUAKE RELIEF AND PROJECT “Winterization” (2015) COMPLETED PROJECT: Immediately after the devastating news of the earthquake that hit Nepal on April 25th, 2015, with a death toll that exceeded the 8000 victims, we did not hesitate in sending help to our Nepali friends. Just a few days after the earthquake, thanks to the collaboration of the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, we sent to our partner WOMEN FOR HUMAN RIGHTS material to prepare and distribute the so-called “dignity kits” to help the displaced women deal with their personal hygiene in environments lacking of privacy. We sent also 20 water tanks, 20 tents, 250 thermal blankets and building material that was used to build emergency shelters. We visited personally some of the villages where the earthquake had hit the hardest, and we met many of those who still live in temporary shelters. With winter approaching, there was urgent need of warm clothes and blankets. In December 2015, we sent to the displaced women and children a truck full of blankets and fabrics to better isolate from the Himalayan winter.
PROJECT “BACK TO SCHOOL!” (2016-2017) ACTIVE PROJECT: “Every year 12,000 minors end up in the lucrative market of sexual labor of Indian cities where there is a high prevalence of the HIV plague”. WOMEN FOR FREEDOM reintegrate to school boys and girls who would otherwise be on the street. Spending the days outside the schools can be really dangerous for Nepali children. In fact, they are likely to follow false promises to move to the Indian cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and Surat. What they can’t imagine is that in the best of the cases they will end up being exploited by entrepreneurs and wealthy families. The most unlucky ones, and the young girls in particular are often convinced with false promises and the dream of India ends up in the brothels where they are sexually abuse.
Fatherless children are in even more danger: being sons and daughters of a single mother, they suffer social exclusion. These children have to leave school to help their mother in the fields or to find a job that allows them to provide food for themselves and their brothers. Some seek fortune by emigrating to the capital Kathmandu, finding themselves living on the street, together with other children in unacceptable conditions and difficult to be recovered. Once they enter this network it becomes very difficult for them to return to the village of origin.
In 2016 and 2017 we are reintroducing to school 180 daughters and sons of Nepali single women. We will pay for their enrollment fees, for their books, backpacks and school uniforms. In this, we are receiving the preciuous support of the Italian Fondazione Cariverona.
*** Be the change! Help Nepali children to go back to school!
With € 100 you will support the annual school fees of a child
With € 500 you ensure the enrollment for five years of elementary school for a child
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