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  • Writer's pictureVoita

The Empowerment Collective

"Empowerment Collective" ... quite the mouthful, isn't it? Occured to me as I watched woman after woman struggle pronouncing these, to them, very foreign words. Stressed out, half of them would ever forget 'thank you'. It resembled a secret cult initiation and in a sense it was, as the interviews marked the first day of their new lives. Lives in which these brave women, brave for breaking ranks of their village, will have a job and a fair salary in exchange.

find the GOAT?

Local Women Handicrafts is, in my opinion, a perfect example of progress done right. Both Nasreen and Sahin grew up locally. Their own experiences in their upbringing led them to believe... that there must be a better way. Not getting locked up, not having to slave in a sweat shop... to have a little bit of decency.

And so they looked around. And found how we raise and treat (or try to, in any case) our children. And now they're bringing that knowledge back home.

Bud, myself and others... we're simply helping along the way.

interviews

In my case, I helped to document the latest round of interviews of women, who'll start learning how to work a loom. With barely any to no education (remember, kids only started going to school en masse half a decade ago here), that is a major step forward for them, not being entirely dependent on males in their surroundings. For the first time in their lives, they've made a decision for themselves and a major step out of their comfort zones. Saying foreign words into a camera is but a tiny part. Upsetting their status in the village (remember the kid getting arrested for dating) is a whole lot more frightening as that's been virtually their entire life up until now.

"thank you so much Empowerment Collective"


looms

Six years ago, during my first visit, there was the KTM shop and a budding factory on the city's outskirts. The Terai safehouse was but an outline of a dream. But over the years, the Collective has persevered and put down roots - and a lot of cement. Equally importantly, they built up reputation for themselves (remember the massive corona kitchen) and now people aren't (often) trying to come and destroy the safehouse anymore. Barring any nonsense regulations the government keeps sending their way, the Collective finally has enough space to breathe and grow. Isn't that an amazing progress?

Oh and they produce kickass handicrafts, which you can check out in their online shop. Have a browse!

And like a proper filming crew, as my mission came to a wrap, I got shipped out without seeing anything beyond... this already beyond ordinary project. But I don't mind one bit, I've seen so much as is.

The ride back was the smoothest on Nepal's roads yet. First there were the endless patties and the local families planting rice. Then over bigger and bigger hills, until we got lost in clouds and air much cooler than down in the plains. And finally down again towards Kathmandu. Despite the continuing heavy rains the city remains covered in dust and smog to the point where coming in, it's impossible to see the other side of the valley.

We're gonna have to go for a little hike to fix that. ^^

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