The last two days at EPSA I've been taking lots of pictures of hand-made items for the new catalogue, I’ve been finding out more out about the centre, in how it runs and how things are going to be improved. There's been a real concern with the water shortage, so two guys have been digging into the ground for the last two days, and they've found water at just twelve meters down, they thought there wouldn't be any water until twenty-two meters so that's good, good! It was fun watching the guy all the way down the well, covered in muddy water hehe.
Sangita has begun telling me about the lives of the women at EPSA and how much the centre has helped them, (and of course vise-versa). Shanti Mahariam is nineteen; her family lives and works on their farm, where before EPSA Shanti was also working, (however not by want, but obligation). Her Mum - Senumeye Mahariam- said that before EPSA her daughter was shy, sad and didn't have the confidence to communicate much with anyone, being particularly challenging to communicate when half deaf. But since Shanti began working at EPSA she's felt more supported and understood, and her Mum said she's smiling all the time now and is a lot more open and confident, she is now able to actually enjoy life
Devi Bhandari is thirty-eight; she works and also lives at EPSA with her two children Suresh and Subekshya, and husband Lokreag. Devi and her (before marriage) family were worried that she wouldn't be able to get married because of her disabled foot (marriage is a big deal in Nepal, so much so that marriage becomes a cause for many issues on all sorts of levels). However Devi's family found her a husband, he is much older than her and to begin with this was a big issue for Devi (as I think it probably would be for any young woman). Before being involved with EPSA Devi had nothing outside being a wife, through EPSA she has gained skills, confidence, friends, a job... a life. EPSA has clearly been life changing to Devi in all aspects of her life, and her husband is older now and can't work, so it has become essential for her to work to provide for her family and send her children to school.
Sangita has now also included two brothers into EPSA, who she saw on the street two days ago. They are both in wheel-chairs from two separate accidents. They have been wondering the streets each day begging to try and get enough money to pay rent, to survive. It is crazy and hard to imagine that people have to resort to this! The two brothers said that people get angry at them for begging, telling them that they should be working for their money, and tell them to go away. But it's hard to work for your money when you have no set skills and you are discriminated against for being in a wheel-chair, I can't imagine what these two guys have had to go through. The eldest brother is 35, and the younger one is just 24. They were in EPSA today learning how to make small items out of felt, Sangita said they’ll come in regularly now and learn how to make soaps and candles, so they’ll be able to sell things on the street and hopefully make a little more money and be better treated then how they have been so far.
I know every country have their faults, and I surely do know Australia’s, however I am thankful that we don’t have the same extent of discrimination issues. I have come across some quite amazing discrimination, I am aware that people have grown up differently with different believes and ways on life, but to discriminate against someone for something beyond their control, such as having a disability, seems absolutely bonkers. As does the issues surrounded by marriage and women’s equality and questioned capability of doing certain things, and men too, boys are not allowed to help out as kids/teenagers which means they are left unable to do the basic of things like dishes, cloth washing or cooking! There are also huge caste system issues and discriminations, the caste system really makes not an ounce of sense to me, I know I’m from elsewhere but it really is in no way that I can see fair or just. I’m learning to accept that discrimination happens, and am very, very thankful I am not trapped into any of it, and hopeful that in all our own ways we can all try to make things fairer and more just... I feel like I'm learning that people everywhere make no-sense at all, we're all a lot of non-sense :p but that's ok :) it's very interesting :p