Newsletter 1 (English, April, 2019)
Welcome to FrauenPower e.V.’s first Newsletter. We have been in operation for 5 nearly months and are already making inroads into empowering women around the world. The applications for funding have started rolling in and we have already allocated funding to 4 projects: two in India, one in Nepal and one in Kenya. The projects are briefly described below. Mayuri has had the opportunity to visit one of the projects in Kenya and she has written a short piece on it. If any of these projects interest you, and you would like to support the women on long-term basis, please get in touch with us. Note that it is not just financial support that we are looking for – though this is very important – but also contact to other organisations working towards empowering women, other sources for funding our work, and also ideas on how we can further support women in developing nations.
FrauenPower was only able to partially support all the applications it had received for funding. This was mainly due to lack of sufficient funds. We are hoping that with time – and your support - we will be in a position to support more projects on a long-term basis and be able to empower more women worldwide. The FrauenPower Team, and the beneficiaries of its funding, would like to thank all the donors for their generosity. Without your donations, FrauenPower would not be able to support the projects it currently undertakes or give some (and their families) a slightly better future.
The FrauenPower e.V. Team wishes you all a wondering Easter
Our current projects:
The following organisations have been the first beneficiaries of funding from FrauenPower:
1. Institution of Culture and Rural Development (I-CARD, Johrat, Assam, India)
I-CARD actively puts the tribals, especially the Misings, on the development map of Assam through a time bound programme of systematic and intensive sustainable development strategies at every level. It educates the community to be cumulatively self-sufficient in developing themselves through internal indigenous resources. It ensures a successful future for the community through powerful youth projects, undertakes a holistic health awareness cum assistance campaign for women and children. I-CARD helps to keep alive, preserve, protect and unite the cultural identity, traditional values, language and literature of the tribes from disintegration. FrauenPower has given I-CARD funding for a women’s literacy program. The aim of this project is to empower over 700 Mising tribal women (picture above) in Assam by providing them with basic literacy - reading and writing skills - over a period of one year. Animators will undertake the teaching in the villages, and the classes will be held in the evenings so that they don’t interfere with women’s daily chores. Apart from literacy classes, further training for development and empowerment of women will also be undertaken and will include sessions on women's rights, social justice, health care, family planning, preservation of Mising culture, formation of self-help groups, business development skills, girls education, and so on.
Women in Assam are mostly dependent on their husbands or fathers, with little independence to act as they wish. They are mostly categorised as second-class citizens, are mostly illiterate (which further isolates them), play a minimal role in politics, do most of the hard agriculture and housework. Yet, women benefit financially very little from their workload and are often unaware about their rights. We are hoping to emancipate some women with the basic literacy training we are providing together with I-CARD.
2. Kevin Rohan Memorial Eco Foundation (KRMEF, Kathmandu, Nepal, http://www.krmef.org)
KRMEF creates a healthy, sustainable environment that embodies eco-friendly practices for the well-being of local communities in and around Kathmandu in Nepal. Its main goal is to foster health and wellbeing in the most impoverished communities by encouraging sustainable change through environmentally friendly programs.
FrauenPower is providing KRMEF with funding to conduct health camps for 200 women, with the aim of improving their health and that of their communities. It is hoped that by improving the health condition of (especially) women, one can uplift the living standards of their families and community. It is also hoped that a health camp would help create awareness about the environment and healthy living.
Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world, with also very poor socio-economic status for women. The women are discriminated against, mishandled, lack basic literacy, have little access to health facilities or rarely visit them, or are unaware about their health or symptoms. We hope that the health camps will be able to detect, diagnose and treat women – in case something is detected - before it is too late.
3. M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF, Chennai, India, https://www.mssrf.org)
MSSRF is a not-for-profit Foundation that aims to accelerate use of modern science for sustainable agricultural and rural development. It focuses specifically on tribal and rural communities with a pro-poor, pro-women and pro-nature approach. The Foundation applies appropriate science and technology options to address practical problems faced by rural populations in agriculture, food and nutrition.
FrauenPower is supporting a project to empower tribal women through skill and “Eco-preneurship” development in Kolli Hills in Eastern Ghats, Tamil Nadu. It was realised that tribal women had limited access to training and “Eco-preneurial” development, lack market awareness, and lack opportunity for value addition of local plant genetic resources. The objective of this training program is to create awareness on local resources conservation and sustainable use, to extend value addition training for primary and secondary processing of locally available plant genetic resources, to create financial linkages for tribal women and market linkages for their products, and finally to develop trainer’s training modules and build cadre of tribal women as Trainers of Trainers on the Rural “Eco-preneurship” development. This project aims to empower women - particularly of the age group between 20 and 35 years - and provide them with an opportunity for cross learning of their natural environment and available resources for their sustainable utilization. FrauenPower is of the same opinion as that of MSSRF that creating an economic stake in conservation is a viable approach for sustainable management of local resources.
4. The Zuri Initiative Trust SoCCs Project, Nairobi, Kenya (www.zuri-initiative.com)
The Zuri Initiative is a non-profit social business and charitable trust set up last year to support poor women in and around Nairobi, Kenya. Zuri’s vision is to create a sustainable future in which women and communities are socially and economically empowered. The Initiative aims to empower women, promote entrepreneurship, alleviate poverty and transform communities using the power of social capital. Zuri is currently recruiting and enrolling women from low-income backgrounds, with basic or no education, to become sales agents for natural hair-care products that the Initiative has just begun to produce. Before the women start selling the products, they have to undergo a 3-month training program (known as ZIWEP – Zuri Initiative Women Empowerment program) that covers topics related to group structure, becoming a sales agent, hair care products, financial literacy, entrepreneurship, personal confidence, and so on.
FrauenPower has decided to support Zuri’s SoCCs Initiative. SoCCs, or social capital credits, is a concept developed by the Asia Initiatives (www.asiainitiatives.org). In brief, it is a virtual community currency for social good. It is a bottom-up initiative, giving power and the freedom of choice to communities so that they are stakeholders in their success. People do social good to earn SoCCs, which they then spend on improving their lives. The women sales force involved in selling the Zuri hair-care products will earn SoCCs by recycling, sending their children to school, going for health check-ups, volunteering and helping their neighbours. They will be redeeming their earned SoCCs for school fees, books and uniforms for their children, sanitary items for themselves and their daughters, water drums for water harvesting, and solar lamps. FrauenPower will be paying for the redeeming of these SoCC points. The concept is new to Kenya and to these women but it is hoped that the social capital that these people possess can be put to better use. Moreover, that (economically poor) people can do something to improve their situation and not wait for hand-outs from donors all the time.
Mayuri’s Nairobi Visit
During my recent trip to Nairobi (April 1-13), I had the opportunity to visit the work being done by The Zuri Initiative in Nairobi and to assist them in implementing the SoCCs initiative that FrauenPower is supporting (see above). I managed to attend 4 sessions of their ZIWEP training programs (also mentioned above) that they hold at schools on the outskirts of two large slums (Kibera and Ngong-Mathare).
The women taking part in the training program (who are also become sales agents for Zuri hair-care products) all live in the slums, have had limited education opportunities, have married young and have a couple of children. They are mostly single mothers, unemployed, casual labourers or volunteer in their children’s schools (if they cannot afford to pay the school fees). Most women live on less than $2 a day. Therefore it was not surprising to see that most women undergoing the training program were keen on learning something new and on improving their economic situation (partly through the commission made on sale of hair-care products).
After the training programs, I also had the opportunity to venture into 2 of the most notorious and dangerous slums in Nairobi. We wanted to see where the women taking part in the course live and come from. This was an eye-opening venture. I have been to slums in India, South Africa and elsewhere but these are “fairly good” compared to those in Nairobi. Almost half of Nairobi’s population of around 2.7 million is said to be living in slums, as there is no affordable social housing and/or people cannot afford rent that is at times as high as in Western developed countries. The slums consist mainly of “displaced people” who either lost their homes after racial/tribal “disturbances”, or of migrants who have moved to the city in search for work. Far-reaching problems with ethnically divided politics, corruption and economic disparities have caused violent outbursts of frustration in these “hot-spot” slums, as the basic needs of citizens remain unaddressed (whilst the rich corrupt politicians get richer).
A 2 x 4 meter corrugated shack with no water, electricity or toilet costs around 20 EUR a month to rent in one of these slums. I saw families of up to 4 people living in this small space. If rent is overdue by a day, the mafia that control these slums can throw out one’s meagre possessions. People have to buy water to drink and wash, and carry it a long way to their shacks. Lack of toilets means the small alleyways between the shacks are used as toilets, largely out of desperation. People talk of shit flying around (bags with shit are hurled in the air). The conditions are even more precarious during the rainy season. Next to both the slums I visited are garbage dumps where Nairobi’s trash is dumped and burnt; mountains of it. The slum dwellers and their children inhale the toxics released from “rich-men’s trash”! (Kenya has taken the step to strictly ban plastic bags since last year but there is a long way to go).
The shacks where the slum dwellers live are not safe either. They are easily broken into and the meagre possessions often stolen. Women and children are not safe living in these places either. Rape is very common, even that of small children. Single mothers, who are desperate to go out working to support their families, often have no choice but to leave their children, some even very young, on their own in the shacks. I heard stories of how some mothers tie their small children in the room so that they don’t wonder out! Many of these women have no extended families or grandparents in town to help them raise their children.
There are a few schools that support mothers to look after their children so that they can go out to work. I visited a day care centre and school, Jukumu Letu (https://www.jukumukenya.org) that helps take care of around 140 children from the slum, even during school holidays to ensure that the children are safe in the school whilst their mothers are out working. Due to lack of funds, this school cannot take on more children. However, the children who were at school appeared to be very happy, being fed on 5 meals a day and feeling protected in the secure environment. If you want to help any of these children, please check out the above website or contact me.
I hope that with the work we are undertaking with The Zuri Initiative, we can empower a few women, give them and their children a better future, and hope that they may (one day) be able to live away from the terrible conditions in the Nairobi slums.
P.S. If you happen to have used smart phones (only) that you do not need, we would like to have them for the disadvantaged women we are working with in Nairobi slums.
Address: FrauenPower e.V., Gartenstr. 14, 72631 Aichtal-Aich
Our bank details for donations: FrauenPower e.V IBAN: DE87 4306 0967 7048 2893 00 GLS Bank