Opening Women Empowerment Center
Today is a special day. I feel humble and proud to stand here in front of you. 20 brave women, who all show the courage to take a step in the direction of making a positive change for yourselves, your children and your communities. Despite or maybe because of the difficult situation and background you are dealing with.
5 years ago I came to Nepal for the first time with my dear friend Carijn. We were impressed by the work of Visma and his team running Namasté Children’s House. Together we decided to start a dialogue with the women, who were in such desperate situation that they tried to give away the care of their children to Namaste Children’s House. Instead of separating these children from their mothers, it became our joint mission to find out what kind of support these women needed to take care of themselves and their own children again. To become independent. We listened to their stories. They told us how they lost their husband and how they were coping with a situation of taking care of their children by themselves. No education. Often doing physically hard work, which made them suffer from bad health conditions. Very little support of government and family. Forced to leave their children at home by themselves. We shared tears, but also laughter. Figuring out that a solution could be found in a Buffalo, a goat or a sewing machine. After providing these women with a loan and guidance to start a small business with a buffalo, goat or sewing machine, we witnessed them making their own steps towards an independent life. Step by step.
The courage and willingness of these women to work hard for an independent life was inspiring. The richness and wisdom they spread from their hearts, taught me a lot as well. Traveling on and off between the Netherlands and Nepal, it showed the huge difference between being a single woman in the Netherlands or in Nepal. It made me realize how the women in the generations before me had stood up for their rights and fought for equality between men and women. How development and education empowered me to fulfill my ambitions and even gave me the freedom to travel. Something I love to do. And how this privilege comes with a responsibility to help and free others. To work together towards a fair and free world for everybody.
I have great respect for you all here as the second generation of women in this project, that start the sewing & skills training today from this brand new building in Ghachowk. Let it be one step in the direction of an independent future and that of your children and your community.
This was not possible without the enormous effort of the people in Ghachowk and hundreds of supporters in the Netherlands, represented here by some people that are dear to me. It was one huge cooperation by many people that made this project reality. With in the middle the running engine, the team of NCF Nepal and Namaste Foundation NL. A collaboration between men and women coming from two completely different worlds, cultures and languages. Working equally together, making mistakes and sharing successes. Learning from each other in this challenging field. With respect for each other. A great team that worked hard: Alisha, Utsav, Emeline, Hein, Man Singh, Visma. Greatly empowered and supported by their boardmembers, members, staff and volunteers of Namaste Community Foundation Nepal and Namaste Foundation NL. May the Women Empowerment Project, and may all of us here, set an example of the power of equality in this world.