Newsletter 2 (English, September, 2019)
Welcome to the second edition of our Newsletter that aims to briefly update you on FrauenPowers’ activities for the past 6 months. FrauenPower is currently supporting 4 projects - 2 in India, one in Nepal and one in Kenya – with three out of four progressing well; one is yet to start. Considering that we have been in operation for just a couple of months, this is not a bad scorecard. FrauenPower continues to receive funding from some very generous donors and I hope we will be able to continue supporting current and future projects that empower girls and women.
I would like to take this opportunity, also on behalf of the other board members, to thank all the generous donors who are making the work of FrauenPowers possible. This is much appreciated, not just by us but also by the girls and women who have so far benefitted from your generosity.
Brief update on current projects:
The following organisations have been the first beneficiaries of funding from FrauenPower:
· Institution of Culture and Rural Development (I-CARD, Johrat, Assam, India)
FrauenPower is funding I-CARD’s women’s literacy program that aims to empower over 700 Mising tribal women in Assam, by providing them with basic literacy - reading and writing skills - over a period of one year. The first training covering 29 villages and nearly 400 women has already begun. Participating women receive up to 3 hours training per week, when circumstances allow it. Attendance is at times low during planting, harvesting or the rainy season, when classes have to be postponed. The project intends to give honour, respect and independence to the women, who are taught how to sign their names and to read a simple letter. Most of the literacy classes are conducted by volunteers, with FrauenPower paying for materials (like books, pencils, chalk, etc.) and transport for the teachers. Classes take place in the evenings when women are done with their chores (so there are no constraints from the men-folk!).
It is sad to see women learning their ABC's, in an English-speaking country like India as adults, but many of these women never got an opportunity to go to school as children. Community/tribe-based discrimination as well as poverty is widespread in the field of education - which further sidelines especially women.
· Kevin Rohan Memorial Eco Foundation (KRMEF, Kathmandu, Nepal, http://www.krmef.org)
FrauenPower is providing KRMEF with funding to conduct health camps for 200 women with the aim of improving women’s health, as well as that of their families and communities. Below are some pictures of the first health camp conducted for women and children in Nepal. The second camp has been delayed because of the rainy season but will hopefully take place in October.
· M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF, Chennai, India, https://www.mssrf.org)
FrauenPower is supporting MSSRF’s initiative of empowering 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, a lack of market awareness and a lack of opportunity for value addition of local plant genetic resources. MSSRF aims to train a number of women in these areas and has identified women (aged between 18 and 30 years) who will be trained to become “eco-preneurs”. Unfortunately the training has been delayed due to the monsoon rains in southern India and will hopefully begin this month.
· The Zuri Initiative Trust SoCCs Project, Nairobi, Kenya (www.zuri-initiative.com)
FrauenPower is supporting The Zuri’s Trusts social capital credits (SoCCs) initiative. SoCCs is a concept developed by the Asia Initiatives (www.asiainitiatives.org). It is an innovative way for young girls and women to be rewarded for any social good that they do. For example, if a woman attends a health clinic, gets her child vaccinated, sends her daughter to school, teaches sex-education, and so on, she will earn points. These points can then be redeemed for school fees, books, access to additional training workshops, or healthcare. Zuri is currently conducting this exercise with two women’s groups, one in a slum in Nairobi and one in Ngong.
The above pictures are from the sex-education / menstruation classes that women taking part in the SoCCs exercise conducted in schools in Kibera, one of the largest slums in Africa. Such teaching is usually not done in schools or at home - as it is a taboo topic - and girls grow up not knowing about their bodies or changes to it. Rape and teenage pregnancy is also a big problem in many parts of Africa, yet few steps are taken to address these serious issues at home or in school. The women earned SoCCs for conducting the classes and also if their children took part in it.
Another exercise that the women conducted to earn their SoCCs was to visit an old peoples’ home in their slum neighbourhood, where they helped cook and feed the elderly. For some women the experience was so touching and gratifying that they spent more hours than intended at the place, bought extra food with their own limited savings to feed the elderly, and committed themselves to continue doing such work in the future - even after the SoCCs "redeeming" incentive was over!
On the one hand it is sad to see that one needs an incentive, such as that of SoCCs, to "make" people do social good or to change their mind-set. On the other hand slum residents are often poor, displaced or living away from their homes and families. Peoples’ priorities in a slum environment are often about survival and they have little time for "social good", especially not for strangers that are not of their own tribes.
And yet this exercise shows that most women can manage to juggle their workload and can still to find time for others. They can be a great force in bringing change to their communities and families!
Field visit by FrauenPower members
Four members of FrauenPower, together with their families, recently visited The Zuri Initaitive offices in Nairobi and the Jukumu Letu School (www.jukumukenya.org) in Ngong. FrauenPower is currently supporting Zuri’s SoCCs initiative (see above).
Zuri currently conducts one of its Zuri Initiative Women’s Empowerment Program (ZIWEP) training at the Jukumu Letu school, that is located on the edge of a slum where the women participants live. The women proudly presented to the visitors what they had learnt from the ZIWEP training, what they were doing to earn their SoCCs, and for what they intend on redeeming their points. The women’s children, who attend Jukumu Letu, were very happy to interact with the visitors and could have played with them all day long!
The deadline for new funding proposals is the end of September 2019. If you know of a project that needs financial assistance, and meets FrauenPowers funding criteria of empowering girls and women, spread the word and encourage organisations to apply for funding.
We are looking for ideas for a large fund-raising event to raise funds for our work. As such an event needs long-term planning, we are considering next summer (2020). Please let me know how you feel about this, and also if you have any brilliant ideas for this charity event.
Please don’t forget the next FrauenPower board and member meeting (where non-members are also invited) will take place on 11th October 2019, from 7PM onwards, at Gartenstr. 14, Aich. There will be something to eat and drink, as usual. Please let me know if you will be attending by 05.10.2019. The agenda will be distributed (to those attending) nearer time.