Whether it’s spring cleaning and gathering all of your gently used clothing, toys and outdated household furnishings to donate to a local charitable organization or signing up to become a monthly sponsor of a global humanitarian organization; giving blood, stirring stew in a soup kitchen, reading to a child or giving a cup of coffee and a blanket to a homeless person – in today’s world there are so many opportunities to give of yourself.
I’ve aligned my personal philanthropic objectives with my corporate ones – to support initiatives that incorporate and benefit women, youth and wellness.
When I heard Linda and Kevin Edgecombe speak of an IWEN Canada volunteer opportunity in Nepal to build “Classrooms For a Cause” I was intrigued. These were local, down to earth people with a clear passion for making a difference in the lives of children on the other side of the world.
I started following IWEN, learning more and asking questions. I learned that approximately 94% of each dollar donated goes directly to their projects. Their projects are local and global. Their base was local; it has transparency. Their benefactors are women and children – “supporting her right to freedom and education”. I took the leap and became involved! Under their umbrella, there are several ways to become involved:
In the months leading up to our classroom build trip, I chose to raise awareness and promote the Indentured Daughter/Bonded Girls Program and the Building A Future – Buy a Brick Campaign.
This program supports girls as young as 7 years old that are at risk of trading servitude for education. IWEN has a liason who once was a bonded child, Deepa who works tirelessly to identify at risk girls and supervises them once they are involved in the program. For as little as $25/month ($300/year) you can sponsor a girl’s education; affording her tuition a school uniform, supplies and monitored support.
My spa was celebrating it’s 6th anniversary while I was away, so in lieu of putting on a big party, I opted to sponsor 6 girls annual education in addition to the first girl I sponsored last year. My friends and work colleagues rallied and together we sponsored a total of 28 girls prior to my departure to Nepal. The best part – I was able to meet the sponsored girls – which speaks volumes to the transparency of this organization!
This was an initiative that warmed my heart. For every $100 brick that a friend or colleague bought, I installed it on the school and brought back a picture. Together my friends and work colleagues bought 113 bricks; raising $11,300 for the classroom build!
There was an exciting announcement made while all of us were preparing for our trip to Nepal. This was not only going to be a Classroom build journey, IWEN had also acquired a nearby plot of land and the vision and blueprints for UNAKO House were well underway! Unako translates into “it’s hers”. Unako House is a two storey, 4000sqft women’s vocational centre a short walk from the school that IWEN has built in Chainpur, Nepal. Unako House will be a multipurpose community facility supporting the education and training of women in that remote and impoverished region. Typically speaking it is the mothers of the Indentured Daughter/Bonded Girls Program that will be benefitting from it. In educating and assisting these women in addition to their daughters, we are impacting future generations – giving them knowledge and sharing information they would not otherwise have the opportunity or platform to receive.
During our trip to Nepal we literally dug ground and began work on the foundation for Unako House – there are no words to describe the excitement that such monumental work meant to me. This was so real – I am extremely proud to be part of this foundation and strongly encourage you to support this extraordinary project. To donate <select Unako House>
And while I was on the ground in Chainpur, a few of us volunteer women were invited to visit a Tharu Women’s Group. IWEN has inspired and currently supports 13 women’s groups in the Dang Region. These women’s group are kinda like our western culture “book clubs”. They gather once a month and contribute their mandatory monthly fee (equaling $.20). They are a group sharing wisdom, strength, knowledge and money; they mentor and protect each other. If a friend has been physically abused, they will march collectively to the family home and shame the husband. They will console and nurture each other (often times if a doctor is needed, he is not always available at the community medical post). They listen to each other’s needs and vote on who they think needs the most assistance. They manage their funds in a microcredit fashion and lend to the neediest. There has not been one default in monthly payment or loan payback in any one group. Their success stories bring tears to your eyes. While visiting we were told of one women who borrowed the equivalent of $10CDN to purchase mushroom seeds. Once she harvested and took her first crop to market, she had enough to repay her loan. In that season she had made 3x the original investment. She could afford to support her family.
IWEN has a liason, Sarita – who herself, at the age of 9 was a bonded labourer. Sarita visits each women’s group for their monthly meeting. She mentors and listens to their needs – she is their Field Co-ordinator. With monitored progress, IWEN makes an annual contribution to each microfinance chapter. A mere $200 CDN donation to any of the Tharu women’s groups has a significant impact to assisting women to strive and work for independence and success.
To donate <select general; but in the notes please specify that your donation is to support the Tharu Women’s Groups>