Rickshaw in Kathmandu and Local Women’s Handicrafts rural HQ – 5 May 2017

Eva Sifis

Relaxed and enjoyed the sumptuous breakfast offered by our hotel, taking in the manicured surrounds of the KGH garden. I connected again with the resident feline and after hearing she lacked a name, dubbed her Dami, short for Dalmatian as her colouring is reminiscent. Imagine my pleasure when I heard Dami is the Nepalese word for ‘awesome’!
A concierge we met when we first arrived was present this morn and I took the chance to hear more about M Rosie reality. She first described more about this hotel chain and it’s support of a certain organisation that helps women to sell things they have made. This hotel chain also makes a point of supporting women who have been human trafficked by employing them.
She explained that wages here in Nepal do not allow for savings as they are about $100/month for hotel management. She sees her responsibility to help her family with whom she lives and after paying for food and expenses there is hardly anything left for frivolous things like entertainment.
When we raised the possibility of her travelling to India for further career advancement she explained that Northern Nepalese (as she is) look more Asian so it would be impossible for her to go there as the racial discrimination she would likely face would render the attempt useless.
Studying for an MBA (as she would if she had the chance) is hazardously expensive. We heard that as well as coming up with a hefty sum, she would have to reveal her family’s assets, monetarily and property, in order to be considered for acceptance into a college or overseas study.
The Nepalese government make it exceedingly difficult to even apply for a visa let alone actually gain one.
An over-riding desire of the Nepalese I have encountered is to go somewhere else, not to live, just to see but it seems to be completely out of reach. It is not difficult to see how comparatively wealthy we, as Australian, are. I would like to pose the thought that wealth can be measured in many different ways but freedom to move in one of the most valuable.

Ticking one of the last bucket list boxes, we caught a rickshaw to Local Women’s Handicrafts and arrived right on time 10 mins later. We piled into a small cab to drive to the large house and property (still being built – like the rest of the country!) that is the base for the organisations operations. Also along for the ride was Lara Pizzato from the Acts of Kindness Collective, originally from Italy and Bianca Caruana from Sydney who writes the Altruistic Traveller blog.

One of the first people we encountered was a blonde woman from Finland. Senni Koskenvesa was beautifying the walls with gorgeous art painted by hand.

“There’s enough humans to make something beautiful for another human” was a gem of a quote taken from Nasreen Sheikh‘s smooth delivery as she showed us around the building. Coming from the lips of a girl sold into childhood servitude in factories, this was especially poignant.
Taking us first into a room with machines operated by cranking a spindle beneath the surface of the table to operate the embroidery needle, I was struck by the antiquated yet specialised machinery. She also showed us a room where quality control is all done by hand and then through to where paper cutouts of their clothing designs festooned the walls of a room. There was a large table upon which material was being shaped and cut using a hand held machine by two women.
Under the large bench-like table factory offcuts of material were piled haphazardly. Nasreen explained that they are cheap as they are usually thrown away.
Leading us to the first shed adjoining the main building, we saw a series of looms. 2 were being used to make hemp fabric. Upon the first loom was Narani. She was found on the street where she could not afford meds for the regular seizures she suffers and as a result was seizing unceasingly. She had once been married but had been badly burnt to over half her body in a kitchen mishap caused by her fitting. The marriage dissolved after this. Narani now has access to meds and is increasing her skill base with the org.
Then showed through to another shed, we saw piles of scraps that would be fashioned into mats and carpets. Here we met Sarswiti, an earthquake victim whose husband lost a leg in the disaster. She is empowering herself through LWH so she can get work. A gorgeous soul, we were initiated into the fiddly work child labourers are often subjected to by learning to make dream catchers. I am not that deft at all but Sarswiti ensured I left with a lovely memento of my visit today.
Sangita was the lovely quiet girl in front of the pink gates. We heard she had just been at the org for a couple of weeks so was still finding her feet and confidence. She is trying to empower herself away from the strictures of village life.
We were taken back to the city after about an hour in Goldhunga, the outlying area the organisation is in. I included photos of some of the building work going on in Nepal’s infrastructural recovery. Really nice, stylish homes.
If you would like to, check out Acts of Kindness – the not for profit we heard about today and also Subin, our travel agent dude runs the org Sagarmathainternational.org

I need to sleep!
Oh, I heard from the dr today regarding the catscan. All good. I’m flying out tomorrow. See you soon x