2012 Study Tour: Tricky Tasks and Dazzling Donations!
Each of the 15 Study Tour Participants had been chosen and has a unique role to play in the relationships we develop with the women at the new Seven Women training centre. Although we have quickly learnt that this study tour is not about coming and doing and leaving a mark on what we have achieved in the time we have been here (for this is not the Nepali way), we still do hope to make a significant contribution.
In the few months leading up to the Study Tour, each participant was to raise money to go towards something we would need in Nepal for our task or other needs we identified that would help the centre progress. With the amazing generosity of so many people, we were able to collect a substantial amount of money and therefore had great capacity to equip the centre with some things which they would benefit from. See below for more details of what we bought with the donations.
Below we will briefly outline what each person's task was, and how it went and if they spent money on materials.
Hannah - Hannah's task was to interview the women and document many of their stories. In addition, she also took the wonderful initiative to make signs for the new vegetable garden at the centre. This involved scouting out wood and finding a carpenter to make little little picket signs to put in the garden. She also had to research the Nepali names of the vegetables to write on the signs. They look great! They are a great addition to the new little garden that the women will surely lovingly tend as an extra income generation project.
Marty - Marty was working with Annita who is the manager at the new Seven Women centre. His task was to develop and update the computer systems at the centre so that doing online product orders for the women would be a lot simpler, easier and more efficient. They worked so well that they were all done in one day completing the task, so that is something that will really help the centre stay on top of their inventory, purchase orders and other logistical things.
Brad - Brad, being a bit of a handyman, was looking for jobs to do and one noticeable thing missing was any sort of storage for the women's bedrooms. So Brad's task became building shelves for clothes storage in the three main bedrooms in the house. He, along with our infamous local leader Padam, went to a local 'hardware store' to get wood, nails and other necessary tools and then Brad set to work with a couple of helpers building the shelves. Considering the frustrations of sub-standard wood (which is all that was available), Brad managed to complete three functional and shelving units, with the invaluable help of his two assistants Sarina and Marissa. The women are bound to appreciate this contribution as they continue to set up their new homes and work centre.
Sarina - Sarina, as a dressmaker back in Australia, was also contributing to some new product designs for the women at the centre which are yet to be finished. These include products such as a baby bib and other sewing products. Sarina was also kept busy throughout the trip building shelves, and capturing the trip on her camera.
Meg and Jessie - Meg and Jessie went with Padam to go and find some nice photo frames to put up all around the centre to add a touch of homeliness to the otherwise very bare walls. The photos were of the Nepali women who has been involved in the centre, and they were beautiful close up portraits - a daily reminder of who the centre is there to serve. Meg and Jessie did an amazng job on our last day at the centre finally nailing all the photos up in each room and along the corridor. The finished product was fantastic, and despite several difficulties along the way, the task was completed very successfully!
Ruby - As a talented artist, Ruby was really able to contribute to the centre using her great skills in design and painting. Many others in the group also helped to paint the mural that spreads along the concrete wall at the front of the centre. Ruby's design of red, yellow and orange magnolia's (infamous flowers in Nepal for being signs of good luck) now frame the front courtyard in the most charming way.
Annelise - Annelise is a young film enthusiast and has taken on the role for the trip as videographer. This is such a crucial role for the whole trip but especially for the Seven Women centre. She worked to capture the women in their home and their work environment, and how we as a Study Tour group were able to be a part of that. Annelise was also able to do some filming at the centre with just the women there and will really provide supporters with a direct and intimate glimpse into the lives of Seven Women.
Lara - Lara, as a business owner of a textiles design store back in Australia, created a unique design for the women at the centre for laptop sleeves. This is a fantastic idea by introducing new products that there will be a demand for in the Australian market. Lara had designed the product and created a prototype for the women to work on in Nepal. She spent some time and donation money to shop for materials - including locally sourced leather to be used as the lining for the laptop sleeves. A couple were made by the time we headed home, looking fantastic! This is something that will begin to make its way into the general Seven Women product catalogue!
Matt - Matt purchased a variety of school equipment, particularly sports supplies, which he donated to a local school which we spent some time at. Precious National College is a non-government school set up to provide schooling to children who can't always afford all the school fees to attend a government school. We were able to spend a morning at the school teaching some classes about Australia culture and playing games. Matt ran some great sports games for the school, and they demonstrated to us some of their exercises. We also played some Aussies vs. Nepali volleyball with the new equipment that had been donated.
Clara - Clara, along with Matt's help, was able to paint a beautiful mural on the roof of the Seven Women centre. It was in the shape of a wooded tree and on the last day, we all added our painted hand prints to mark us being there. The hope is that as new people come to the centre, they too can add their hand print. It also makes the roof look like a great fun working environment. It is a space which the women utilise a lot for work and socialising.
Alex - Alex spent time during the trip selecting particular photos which at the end of the trip she had developed and put into a beautiful Nepali handmade paper photo book. These photos were a wonderful collection of our trip - representing all the places we went, people we saw, jobs we did, the women we worked with, and to leave something at the centre to commemorate our time in Nepal with the centre which has had such a lasting impact on us all.
Leigh - In Australia, Leigh works for recreational camps for youth and children with disabilities and he was able to share about his work in Nepal. This was particularly relevant at the centre which works closely with people with disabilities. It was an important comparison between both contexts and strategies across countries. Leigh's input will be an important contribution to the strategy and procedures that take place at the centre.
Erin - A fearless group co-leader and mother hen of the group, Erin served an invaluable role the entire trip helping to organise everything down to the most infinite detail (as much as is possible when in Nepal!). She was always there to help anyone out with their tasks and general experience of Nepal, as someone who had been to Nepal previously, she was knowledgeable and informative and the prefect go-to-girl!
Marissa - My official role was to record our trip through regular blogging, which proved difficult with our very busy days and my need to borrow other people's computers when they weren't being used. However, I was able to record several key experiences and aspects of our study tour, with a keen eye to observe and learn about Nepali culture and what we were learning as a group as part of our tour. I was also able to put up some posters in the centre with pictures of the staff team in Nepal, as well as Australian volunteers.
Steph - Our amazing group leader and Seven Women CEO Steph was constantly working to make sure we all had the best possible experience and exposure to Nepali people and culture, as well as unique and intimate insights into the fair trade practices and producers that we were there to see.
Donations to the Seven Women Centre - With additional funds that were donated as a part of the lead up and promotion of this trip, we were able to contribute:
Additionally, we are able to contribute some more wooden beds and mattresses for the house, a tea table, and some money towards the health fund to help pay for necessary medical expenses that the women may have from time to time.
What an amazing thing it has been to play a role and pass on support from Australia for the setting up of this new centre. It is so exciting the way everything is being provided and will be ready to train, empower and employ many women for years to come. Thank you for your support too - your contributions have really helped make a difference!
If you would like to continue to support the centre and the work of Seven Women, please visit the website for more infomation, and contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details on how to make a donation.
This blog is a follow up entry from our recent trip to Nepal with Seven Women. For more blogs go to: www.sevenwomenngo.wordpress.com