In what has been a mild and short lived winter here in Nepal, the season is rapidly switching and early rains are perking up the dry landscapes and mountainsides. Gardens are beginning to bloom and burgeon with late winter crops, and layers of clothing are being reduced from puffer jackets and mufflers to thick shawls and chia (tea).
Our collaborative project has continued to remain on hold for the safety of our community and our local staff.This has had a profound impact on the women’s sense of community in not being able to gather together. Many of the women had ambitions which we were working towards, implementing their skills in local businesses to better support their families or travelling overseas to be able to provide more income stability for their families. With those businesses now closed and international travel paused, the knock on effect has been difficult for many to remain motivated, as being a part of our Women Empowerment projects were crucial for them in achieving those goals.
Having proficiency in English, confidence in interacting with people, advocating for themselves, and having a greater understanding of business are all key focus areas of our programs. Our team has begun planning how to run intensive catch up lessons once it is safe to gather in small numbers again, with many of the women worrying they have forgotten everything they have learned, pushing their dreams of financial independence and stability further behind. Most students are eager to avoid exams and tests but our community women are requesting it!
Our team regularly keeps in touch by phoning and checking in with each of our community women. Eager for conversation and updates, they often call us before we are due to call them,missing their thrice weekly sessions of building and maintaining community with other women through learning English. The conversations though brief are always peppered with similar lines of questioning – a longing to return to classes and concern for others. Though busy with domestic duties, some women have managed to find part time work to help further support their families and have been encouraged to continue to explore work abroad options through their improved English skill level.
Inspired by similar events in previous years, a handful of the eager women are signed up to participate in an upcoming fundraising walk – which they all exclaim is good for health anyway! It will be a precious time to gather in small numbers and share in community together as they reconnect with friends and supporters who are crucial in helping them to maintain a sense of pride and community in their lives.