Sunday 21st January 2018

English

 “SOS Bahini-Nepal”

SOS Bahini was first established in the year 2004 and this “with the declared objective  to prevent and/or alleviate worse forms of exploitation, violence, discrimination and human trafficking of girls and women in Nepal!

Discrimination, oppression and exploitation of women in Nepal is caused by cultural tradition, a male dominated society the centuries old injustice of the cast system and the racial discrimination that goes along with it. Although that the cast system has been officially abolished 12 years ago it is still very much alive in the hearts and minds of the people and discrimination and exploitation are still widespread and frequent.

The fact that peoples from the lowest casts were not allowed to own land for centuries, or only very small rugged plots of land in the higher, hard to farm regions, is the reason why the lower casts are still the poorest in Nepal. The fact that many fathers abandon their families if their wives fail to provide a male heir leaves women and their children without protection, who can easily fall victim to worst forms of exploitation, violence, abuse and discrimination.

  • Annexe: Rural poverty in Nepal

The death of a father can lead to just as catastrophic consequences as the family cohesion no longer safeguards girls and women from the dangers emanating from society.

  • Annexe: Widowhood in Nepal

 “Child-Marriage” is still widespread in Rural-Nepal. Girls as young as 12 years are often coerced to marry much older man.

  • Annexe: Child-Marriage in Nepal

It is “SOS-Bahini’s declared objective to battle these unacceptable-injustices!

Villagers, members of the civil society and our net-work-partners are informing us about cases of girls and women who have become victims and/or at high risk to fall victims of worst forms of violence, abuse and exploitation.

The different cases are reviewed and assessed on the spot by a selection committee, which consists of five employees. This committee will decide if a girl or women is in imminent danger and in which way “SOS-Bahini” can help them.

  • Annexe: Human-Trafficking in Nepal
  • Annexe: Selection Committee/Selection-Criteria’s

Many women and children are forced by poverty to leave their remote villages in search for a new and better life in the cities. They are usually ending up in the suburban slums surrounding the cities and they are living under dishonorable conditions and are exposed to the greatest threats of exploitation, violence and sexual abuse. Many of these destitute and defenseless girls/women fall prey to the “Human-traffickers”. Statistics are stating that annually 5.000-10.000 girls and women are trafficked to India alone.

The number of prostitutes in Nepal too has dramatically increased over the past 10years and the number of HIV/Aids infected people has soared accordingly.

     6.)Report: Prostitution and HIV/Aids in Nepal

Over the past 14 year, “SOS Bahini” developed a number of innovative and complementing projects and an all-encompassing strategy and this with the goal to prevent these atrocities from happening and give these girls and women an opportunity to live a live in safety and dignity.

At this stage, November 2017, 87 beneficiaries aged 4-22 and 6 Widows/Mothers age 26-43 (total 93),are living fully under the umbrella of “SOS-Bahini”.

“SOS-Bahini” is implementing the following projects:

  • The “Integrated-Family-Project (IFAP) (>Annexe 7<)
  • The “Eco-Village”
  • The “Eco-Village-Hostel” (<Annexe 8>)
  • The “Crossroad-House”(<Annexe 9>)
  • The “Lighthouse” (<Annexe 10>)
  • The “Women-Skill-Development-Centre (Centre-Jean-Prum) <Annexe 11>
  • EDU-CARE

 

IMPACT:

SOS Bahini is the only NGO in the western part of Nepal that is focusing on the Prevention of worse forms of exploitation, abuse, violence and discrimination” of vulnerable girls and young women who are at high risk to fall victims of the same.

Consequently over the past 14 years, numerous innovative projects have been created and implemented in the district of Pokhara, all tailored to the needs of these target groups.

This leads to a synergy effect, with the result that a huge number of destitute, helpless and desperate girls and women find adequate support from SOS Bahini.

SOS Bahini  is taking great care in providing appropriate-safe-shelter, nutritious-food, medical-care, clothes, everything that is required for a proper hygiene, education, vocational-training, and psychological support if needed so.

This is affecting not only those beneficiaries who are fully living under the umbrella of this organization, but many more from our target-groups in our community and beyond.

The vocational-training/job-training for a poor single mother for example, will also benefit her children and the latter’s education gives them a chance to escape the vicious cycle of poverty and discrimination.

Furthermore, the health-camps, the health- awareness and prevention-programs, the free medicine for inflectional diseases, the free distribution of condoms in the slums provide the most underprivileged access to healthcare and prevent the proliferation of STD and HIV/AIDS. All these programs are conducted by “Female-Doctors and Nurses” and this on a voluntary base.

Our “Legal-Awareness” programs conducted by “Volunteer-Female-Lawyers”, instruct women about their rights and thus prevent domestic-violence and injustice.

The sum of all our efforts to support and empower our “Target-Groups” leads to a considerable improvement for many of thousands of the most underprivileged girls and women and to a general improvement of the status of Girls and women in the whole district of Pokhara and beyond.

Equality and Participation:

The “Board of SOS Bahini” comprises seven Women and this from all walks of life. They are house-wife, lawyers, nurses, doctors, business-women, social-workers and teachers.

They are composing the legal body of SOS Bahini and they are accountable for the “Good-Governance” of the organization.

The management and the TEAM are by large majority women and many of the employees are former beneficiaries. This is another way in our constant endeavor to empower women and actively profess and promote sustainability.

Our decision making process is pluralistic and participatory and all are in involved in discussing the relevant issues, including the IFAP-Mothers”, as well as the older beneficiaries. Our decisions are not made from “TOP-DOWN”, but from the “BASE-UP”!

THE “ECO-VILLAGE

The construction of the “Eco-Village” was completed in the year 2014.This project was financed/co-financed by CHL/MAE.

The “Eco-Village” has been designed in the Nepalese-Village style and all edifices have been constructed with mainly natural building materials such as clay and bamboo and the construction works were done by local people, women and men.

The emphasis is lying on eco-friendliness, intermediate technology and sustainability.

All the infrastructure listed below have been completely furnished and equipped and this where ever possible with bamboo furniture that has been manufactured on the ground.

The “Eco-Village” comprises the following edifices and facilities:

  • The Girls-Hostel-Complex, comprising three houses for a total number of 22 beneficiaries and six-sanitary facilities, which are all equipped with solar-panels for hot water.
  • Four Houses for IFAP-Families
  • One big multi-Purpose-Community-Hall (80m2) built with bamboo
  • One building 80m2 comprising kitchen and refectory
  • One building comprising the “Clinic” and store-room
  • One Bamboo-House the “Women-Skill-Development-Centre
  • One building for computing and Engliish-School and staff-room
  • One building serving for office
  • One small-House for “Security”
  • Stables for live-stock
  • One big open “Pergola”
  • One small “Pond”
  • Play-grounds and sports-grounds
  • Orchards and gardens
  • A water-well (providing plenty of pure water for the whole Village)
  • Solar-Energy-plants

The “Eco-Village” pursues the following goals:

  •  “Eco-Village” is home to  the “Girls-Hostel”, with a capacity for 23 beneficiaries. It is here that the newly admitted beneficiaries find a safe-home and loving care. Here in a strictly non-violent environment everything is set up for them to heal their past traumas and to regain confidence and trust in themselves and others.

Annexe <8>

Over the years the “Eco-Village” also called the “HUB” has become a bustling center and meeting place, and this not only for the 93 beneficiaries who are fully living under the umbrella of our organization, but also for hundreds of girls and women from our “Target-Groups” who are benefitting from the various programs  we are permanently offering.

Moreover, we give much emphasis is to recreational and creative activities as well as in door and outdoor fitness and empowerment programs.

Game, dance, martial-arts, swimming, volley-ball, bicycle-riding, art-classes are frequently taking place and “empowerment-workshops” as well as confidence building activities such as “Quest=Treks” and “Rock-Climbing” are organized for our older beneficiaries aged 16-20.

The Intregrated-Family-Aid-Progrram (IFAP)

This is the main pillar of our organization, and this is what is making “SOS Bahini” different from conventional children homes.

Our children grow up in a safe and caring family-environment, in a separate house where one mother is caring for seven/eight children. All our mothers are “Widows” with dependent daughters (see report 2: Widowhood in Nepal).

These families live autonomously, the children are going to different schools in our community, they are making friends in school and in the neighborhood, they are bonding and they learn to socially interact. We are ensuring the right mixture of small, middle aged and bigger girls and all are caring and loving for one another just like in any other good family.

The mothers are receiving a monthly allowance for food and sanitary items and they are responsible for the shopping and household chores. Each family has their own orchard and all are helping to grow organic vegetable.

Once a week we are having “Mother-Meeting” with the family mothers and the TEAM and all issues, concerns and problems are discussed, and where needed advice and counseling is provided.

Meanwhile they are living an autonomous life, they are fully under the umbrella of our organization and the TEAM is organizing and monitoring everything from education to healthcare, transport, tuition and recreational activities and more. Moreover we are assisting the mothers to raise and educate the children in the best possible way.

Currently we have six such families counting a total number of 49 beneficiaries.

Most of our “Mothers” have been with us for ten years and longer. All of them were destitute widows with dependent daughters, landless, without any assets or resources and in desperate situations. “SOS Bahini” gave them and their children a new life, a life in dignity and security. In turn they are caring for those of our children that have no one to care for them, and they give these children what children need most, A Mothers love and care”!

When someone is asking our children on their way back from school “where are you going?” they will naturally respond “I’m going home to my family”!

These children have a real sense of belonging and the trust and confidence that comes with it.

All our children are receiving the attention and care that meets their unique aspirations, their unique talents and qualities, and this is what is making the IFAP such a great success.

Each child from age 5 onwards is receiving an appropriate amount of pocket-money each month and this according to their age. In this way they are learning how to deal with money and they can satisfy their “little wants”. Be this some candy, the first lip-stick or a small gift for their friends. This is adding to their confidence and self-worth and they don’t have to feel bad or inadequate because their school-friends have pocket-money and their pockets are always empty!

Our children have the right to choose their own clothes! When time comes to buy new clothes, in the spring, summer and winter season the whole family will go to the whole-sale-market and they will select their own clothes. In this way each one of them finds her own style, develops her own taste and is wearing her favored color. It goes without saying that each one has a restricted budget and we are not spending more than by ordering everything at the whole-sale-store.

All this allows our children to grow up with the freedom of choice that leads to self-esteem and the confidence which will be needed to cope with live once they have to leave their family.

More over the families are composed by members of all casts and ethnicities and for our beneficiaries this is no issue at all. They are growing up with the natural sense that all are the same and that no one should be discriminated. When confronted with cast or ethnic issues in school or in the community, their spontaneous response will be “I don’t understand what you are talking about”?

In Nepal, the cast system has been officially abolished 12 years ago, but as we all know, racism, no matter which form it is taking, is a hard to die concept and emotion, whether this be in the east or in the west. For our beneficiaries however this is not an issue at all and they are examples in this society of a generation free from bias and racial discrimination.

In due time, and after completion of the secondary school they will be transferred to the Crossroad-House for vocational-training or tertiary studies. This will make room for those new beneficiaries that have been admitted to the “HUB-HOSTEL” and they in turn will join one of the IFAP-Families. The girls will choose their family by themselves, a choice based on mutual affinity between the girls and the mother.

Our “Mothers” too are cared for and cherished by all, the children call them “Mom” and they are always responding as “MOM”!

7) Annexe: IFAP-Families

The “Light-House”

The “Lighthouse” is located in the heart of Pokhara’s main-Slum, the so called “Bus-Park-Slum”.

It is here where the most underprivileged and at risk from our “Target-Groups’ are dwelling and it sis here where many girls and women are more likely to fall victim of worst forms of violence, abuse and exploitation.

First and foremost with the “Light-House” we are offering a safe space for the girls, adolescents and women. It is here that they will find assistance, advice and support if they find themselves in a crisis, and we are helping them in the best possible way. If we can’t find any solution to their problems they will be referred to other organizations for adequate help.

Furthermore we are offering “First-Aid” service and referral to Hospitals if needed. Regular “Health-Camps” are taking place, especially for women related diseases and inflectional deseases. These “Health-Camps” and some medicines are free of charge and they are conducted by “Volunteer Female-Doctors and Nurses”.

Regular “Adolescent-Group-Meetings” are taking place to provide a platform for these girls and young women and here they can talk about problems that are otherwise taboo in this society. Counseling and advice will be offered and if one of the participants is at high risk, she can be admitted to “SOS Bahini”. Over the past years many of them found a safe home and the care they need under the umbrella of our organization.

Moreover we are providing condoms for free and this to prevent STD and AIDS.

The “Light-House” was established in the year 2008, and over the past ten years it has become an institution in the slum and with it we were able to prevent and alleviate a lot of suffering by the most underprivileged Girls and women.

10.) Annexe: “Light-House”

The Women-Skill-Development-Centre (“Centre Jean-Prum”)

This is a “Training-Centre” for the underprivileged women in our community. The majority of which are uneducated young women, single mothers or otherwise underprivileged women.

The “WSDC” is located in a beautiful bamboo-house in our “Eco-Village” and here we are offering a number of skill trainings, such as handicraft with local available-material, tailoring and stitching, and a variety of work-shops that are introducing new technics and methods of handicraft.

All the formations are designed to enable the participants to generate an extra income while staying at home and caring for their children.

We conduct three training-sessions each year, each one lasting for a period of four months and this for an average of 25 participants.

This is yet another way, how “SOS Bahini” is helping the most underprivileged in our community to “help themselves”.

11.) Annexe: “Centre-Jean-Prum”

 The “Crossroads-House”

The “Crossroad-House” is yet another innovative project created by “SOS-Bahini” and unique in Nepal. The “Crossroad-House” is located in the vicinity of the “Eco-village” and all our “Beneficiaries” who have completed their primary and secondary education are transferred to the “Crossroad-House” for vocational training and/or tertiary studies.

Here our beneficiaries are enjoying a maximum of autonomy and independence meanwhile they are still fully supported by our organization. A “Governess” is monitoring the daily activities and is watching over the decency and discipline that is required for such a place.

All the beneficiaries who are living in this house are responsible for the daily chores like shopping, cooking, house-keeping and the like. In this way they are learning the “livelihood-skills” required the day they are ready to leave and reintegrate into the society.

All are provided a mobile-phone, internet-access, an appropriate amount of “Pocket-Money” each month and regulated leave.

The “Crossroad-House” has a capacity for a total of 21 beneficiaries’ and one Governess.

Currently 28 beneficiaries are undergoing vocational training respectively tertiary-studies and we are planning to increase the capacity to accommodate all of them.

9.) Annexe: “Crossroad-House”

 

The “Clinic”

The Clinic is located at the “Eco-Village” and it is providing health-care for all our internal beneficiaries.

Moreover we are offering frequent “Health-Awareness-Programs” and “Prevention-Programs” for our target –groups in our community.

The Nurse in charge of our “Clinic” previously was one of our beneficiaries.

12.)Annexe: “Clinic”

 Categories of beneficiaries:

There are two kinds of beneficiaries that are cared for by SOS Bahini.

Internal-Beneficiaries (<93>)

To this category belong all the beneficiaries who are fully living under the umbrella of our organization. These beneficiaries are females and either orphans or they come from a dysfunctional and unsafe family and they are aged  5-22. (<87>)

Furthermore six-widows aged 25-43, with dependent daughters, and they are fully integrated into our organization and are the “Mothers of the IFAP-Project”

External-Beneficiaries: (<5000-10.000>)

This category is including all those that are benefitting from the service provided by “SOS Bahini” externally.

  • The families of the mothers who are receiving vocational-trainingg
  • The beneficiaries from our “Health-Programs”
  • The beneficiaries from our “Legal-Awarenes-Programs”
  • The Community of Pokhara due to an increasing number of empowered women
  • The Gradual reduction of violence and discrimination against women is generally improving the quality of life in Nepal
  • The The “Eco-Village” who is providing an example for sustainable living and “non-violence” for the community and beyond.

 

The political and social situation in Nepal:

12 years ago democracy was established in Nepal. However, due to the instability of Government and a constant change in politics, and a powerful and inefficient bureaucracy, the political evolution in Nepal is very slow. Democratic conditions, like gender equality, respect for human rights or the establishment of a welfare-state, are not quit part of the Nepalese everyday reality. However, efforts are made; the changing Governments over the last years made efforts to establish equal rights to women and ethnic minorities. The official abolishment of the cast-system was to underline the Government’s endeavor introduce equality, although in today’s reality it is still very present in the daily life in the Nepalese communities.

EDUCATION and HEALTHCARE: due to reforms the educational-system is gradually improving and this especially with regard to “Private-Boarding-Schools”. These are increasingly expensive and only the privileged in Nepal, around 30%, are able to bear the high costs and to send their children to these institutions. Government-schools however continue to be of poor quality and this with regard to the infrastructures (in most of the schools sanitary-facilities are inadequate or even absent), or the teaching-body. Teachers in government-schools are underpaid and accordingly the education is of poor quality. 70% of the Nepalese children are attending these schools and drop out is considerably high. Many are leaving the schools before class eight, or after completing class eight. From those who continue until class twelve which entitles them to obtain a “School-Leaving-Certificate” over 50% will fail the final exam. They will not be able to go to college, they are very unlikely to find a job and they are not even entitled to make a “Driver-License”. This is an example of unacceptable inequality and given the fact that demographically Nepal has one of the youngest populations in the world, this is going to create huge problems in the near future. The Health-Care-System is equally unfair and most poor Nepalese peoples, around 70%, don’t have access to Hospitals and they cannot afford to pay for the medical bills or treatments in Hospital. This is the main reason why many of the rural poor are heavily indebted; they have to take loans to pay for the education of their children and they have to take loans to pay for costly medical treatments or surgery. This is the ruin for many and it is leading to a new “Rural-Poverty”!

Since 2017 a new law is requiring that all students complete class twelve in order to obtain a “School-Leaving-Certificate”. This will only increase the disparity between the “haves and don’t haves” and an estimated 50%-60% of all students will not be able to obtain this certificate which is indispensible for further study or a respectable job.

 

ENVIRONMENT:

Too little effort only is made to rebalance the Eco-System and to stop or reverse the pollution! Albeit on a small scale “SOS-Bahini” aims to show new paths through its sustainable and innovative projects. The goals of SOS Bahini are on par with those of the government and it is for this reason that SOS Bahini has a good relationship with the local and federal authorities and administrations, even if the confusing and inefficient bureaucracy constitutes a grueling test. On this note it is worth mentioning that in the year 2017, SOS Bahini was classified Grade A by the Nepalese Government. This award is honoring the excellent Governance, accountability, transparence and the quality service that SOS Bahini is providing to its beneficiaries’! Only very few NGO’s in Nepal received this award, and for us this is a confirmation that we are on the right track, and it is an incentive for us to continue our work with zeal and determination.

NETWORKING: SOS Bahini is a founding-member of a richly connected and efficient NETWORK by 25 NGO’s in Pokhara and many more across Nepal. The constant exchange between these organizations leads to a synergy effect and this is how that girls and young women from our target-groups are referred to SOS Bahini from all over Nepal.

CONCLUSION:

All our projects are realized with the intention to provide our beneficiaries a life in safety and dignity. To help peoples to help themselves, to develop their capacities and their potential .To empower them is our top priority!

From primary-school to secondary-school, to college and professional-training, to indoor and outdoor-games, sports, dance, arts, crafts to livelihood-skill-training and empowerment programs, everything is aimed at enabling our beneficiaries to evolve into confident, competent, disciplined and powerful women. The provided education and training and the confidence that they are manifesting will increase their chance to find a decent job and their prospect for a life in independence and safety!

Nepal is rich in resources and these especially in human-resources. Nepal is a nation of hard-working, talented, creative and intelligent peoples. Our beneficiaries are the prime example of a new, dynamic generation who are confronting the challenges of live with confidence and determination. They have left the century old burden of discrimination behind them and they will walk their way with courage, responsibility, and determination, knowing that the clock cannot be turned back, not for them and not for the future generations.

Women are the back bone of Nepal’s society and they are the back bone of Nepal’s economy. It is the women who work hardest and it is the women who are carrying the majority of the responsibility for the upbringing of their children. They are the future of Nepal, they are the hope of Nepal, and they are the wealth of Nepal!

But until this day, the girls and women in Nepal are the majority of the unfed, stunted, and uncared for; the most discriminated, abused and exploited!

We are determined to change this intolerable truth and our beneficiaries are the living proves of our success in helping the most underprivileged and vulnerable!

We cannot be deterred and we will increase our efforts to help these girls and women because they are deserving it !

 If anything will change Nepal for a better it will be because of them, the Women of Nepal !

 

 

Report by Raymond Lindinger (Founder/Cooperant)