6 Reasons We Love Nepal
Nepal is a small and beautiful country with different kinds of scenery, languages, cultures, traditions, and much more. Even the small places of Nepal define the country. There are many reasons to love this place, but here are just a few of ours.
The natural diversity is something we love because all life depends upon it. From the flat lands to the mountains, it all works together to sustain life.
2. Natural beauty
One of the things we love the most about Nepal is the natural beauty. Describing the hills can be difficult because they contain different kinds of trees, animals, birds, rivers, and fresh air which makes it an amazing place. The Himalayan mountains are what Nepal is famous for, their white color gives views that are breathtakingly beautiful. The mountains are home to a lot of rivers which give water in generating hydroelectricity.
Nepal has a lot of diversity of animals. There are numbers of birds and mammals which helps to add to the beauty of Nepal.
Due to the different terrain in Nepal, we have a lot of different kinds of fruits and vegetables throughout the country.
Nepal is one of the most visited countries of the world because there are so many activities to do in nature; mountains to climb, rivers to fish, hills for hiking, and so much more. The natural places have a deep connection with human beings.
The Nepalese people are hardworking with kind and giving hearts. In reality, if you want to live a life, you have to live in Nepal. We choose to live in Nepal because we love the lives that we have here.Purnaa Staff
Taboo but Important
For our monthly staff life-skills training, Purnaa invited Kanchan Shrestha from Kalyani Nepal, to come and share about women’s health and hygiene and to de-mystify and address some of the misconceptions that abound throughout Nepal about women’s menstruation.
“Puberty starts a monthly exile. An entrenched, superstitious practice linked to Hinduism, Chaupadi, considers menstruating women impure and bad luck, rendering them untouchables. Menstruating women are banished, often to forests where they sleep in crude, cubby-like sheds or caves, braving extreme weather and lurking predators, from snakes to rapists.”
The recent deaths were caused by animal attacks or other factors such as fire from trying to keep themselves warm. During Chaupadi, women on their periods are not allowed to come into the kitchen, sometimes the whole house, or touch other members of the family. At night they are forced to sleep in a shed-type building outside of the home, usually in unsanitary conditions.
In Kathmandu, the practice of sending women outside to sleep is not as common, but women can still be treated differently during their menstrual cycles and are often not allowed to be in the kitchen or to touch others.
Since these deaths, Nepal has passed a new law banning the practice of Chaupadi. The BBC reported:
“The new law, passed on Wednesday, states that menstruating women or those who have just given birth should not be ‘kept in chaupadi or treated with any kind of similar discrimination or untouchable and inhuman behaviour’. Under the law anyone who makes a woman observe the custom faces a three-month jail sentence and a $30 (£23) fine.”
Here at Purnaa we want everyone to know how valuable women are and how menstruation a normal part of being female. Shrestha taught about the importance of treating women and young girls with respect while on their period. She was very open and encouraged everyone, men and women, to ask questions. The responses were very positive with many engaged in the discussion.
Shrestha’s organization, Kalyani Nepal, promotes re-usable feminine products. She taught the importance of maintaining good hygiene while on your period and how to care for the re-usable menstrual products that she passed out to each of the women. Since Purnaa has a high value on sustainability, these reusable products were very well-received.
Although the views of menstruation will not be changed overnight, at Purnaa, we want to promote an accurate understanding of women’s health and respect women in all aspects of their lives.Sonja Kraft
The Poor’s Purchasing Power
Reports about purchasing power have been circulating (like this one that looks at what $100 buys you in each USA state, or this one looking at US housing costs). Richard Faber, one of Purnaa’s owners, recently crunched some numbers comparing the purchasing power of Nepal’s minimum wage to the USA’s.
For example, the average cost of boneless chicken breasts in the USA is $3.42/lb. A person working a minimum wage job ($7.25/hr) would have to work just 31 minutes to buy that pound of chicken. In Nepal, the cost of a pound of chicken breasts is about $2.25/lb. However, the minimum wage is just $0.53/hr. So a person working a minimum wage job in Nepal would have to work 4 hours and 14 minutes for that same pound of chicken.
If the purchasing power of minimum wage earners was the same in the US as in Nepal, US buyers would pay $30.78/lb of chicken!
Below is a table that I put together to show how much items would cost in the US, if purchasing power were equal to that of minimum wage earners in Nepal. This should give you a “feel” for how expensive items are for the people in Nepal.
For those of you that like equations and want to know how the prices were determined, its very simple: Price = (Price in Nepal / Nepal Hourly Minimum Wage) x USA Federal Hourly Minimum Wage.All prices are in US dollars.
It was really enlightening for me to make this table. No wonder most of our neighbors live in a single room with family, walk to work, don’t use toilet paper, and consider milk tea a special treat!
(This was excerpted, with permission, from Richard’s personal blog.)Katrina Bryant
Water is needed for survival and the effort people expend to get it varies drastically around the world.
In some countries you just turn on the faucet and your water is there. Here in Nepal that’s not always the case. According to Water Aid Nepal, “Over 3 million people in Nepal have no choice but to get water from wherever they can.” Sometimes, the water is from a stream or river, sometimes from a spring, sometimes from a community water tap, like the one shown above.
Many people do not have water systems in their house. Usually it is the job of a girl or woman to walk to a water source to fill up jugs for their families to use. They do this every day, carrying the heavy jugs full of water back to their homes. The women of Nepal are so resilient and strong!
The water they get is not usually ready to drink and needs to be boiled or filtered first. “In the rural lowlands and the mountains, the distance to water sources is great and water supplies are often polluted with naturally occurring arsenic. Open defecation also spreads diseases across living environments.” –Water Aid Nepal. According to The Water Project, “Children under the age of five are the most affected with an estimated 44,000 children dying every year in Nepal from waterborne diseases.”
Some of the Purnaa employees walk every day before work to get water for their families.
At Purnaa, we get two water deliveries each week. The water truck fills up at a spring in the mountains and then delivers to our tank 3 times a week.
Multiple times a day, we turn on a pump to get water up to a tank on the roof so that we have enough pressure for water to flow through our office.
In the kitchen we’ve installed a Reverse Osmosis, UV-ray filter for our drinking and cooking water. It is common to see employees filling up their water bottles at work!Sonja Kraft
Cold Weather Gear for Earthquake Survivors
In a joint effort to provide aid to earthquake stricken villagers and to bolster Nepal’s economy, Purnaa partnered with the American-based organization Baptist Medical and Dental Mission International (BMDMI), manufacturing 2,500 ponchos to distribute to the surrounding villages and impacted communities. The ponchos were designed in-house at Purnaa as a solution for the victims impacted during the harsh winter. An additional 300 ponchos were distributed through the Mukti Network thanks to generous donations from KICC and other private gifts and a further 300 ponchos were distributed by Mountain Child.
It’s been nine months since the devastating 7.8 earthquake struck Nepal and the country is still feeling the effects of it. Combined with the impact of the blockade this winter, Nepal was hit especially hard in the past year. Many villagers are still without proper housing, fearful to start construction without government approval and aid. Consequently, many of the mountain villages have suffered deaths due to inadequate shelter from the freezing winter temperatures (read more about the situation here).
The 3,000-piece order kept all three Purnaa teams in operation, and added four temporary employees to assist in the final production of the ponchos. Not only did our teams feel a sense of nationalism and pride in their work but they were also inspired to work diligently, breaking our in-house production records and completing production a full 8 days ahead of schedule. “Knowing we were helping people in need inspired us to work harder and faster than ever,” commented several Purnaa employees. “And it was fun to do work really fast and well!”
The first batch of 700 ponchos were flown up 8,000 ft by helicopter to the village of Thulo Haku in Rasuwa, Nepal. The village here experienced 64 deaths from the earthquake and a loss of all structures. The ponchos were distributed among 250 families, totaling 1,470 people, and were well-received with grateful smiles and lifted spirits. Check out BMDMI’s pictures of the poncho delivery in action on their facebook page!
BMDMI is an organization designed to assist developing nations and provide medical and dental expertise through short and long-term trips abroad. Nepal is a recent addition to their two primary countries of service. Read more about the organization and follow their activities on their website.
We are happy to have partnered with BMDMI, Mukti, KICC and Mountain Child on this local relief project. It’s encouraging to see international organizations continue to help Nepal both with short-term aid and long-term employment solutions. Our partnership has helped Purnaa remain in business and empower our employees with full-time salaries and the knowledge that they are making a difference in their home country.
Thank you, BMDMI, Mukti, KICC and Mountain Child for your partnerships and for changing lives in Nepal!Peter Ikeda
Elections and HopeElections in Nepal are only 9 days away. I struggle to keep up with all of the major players…120 parties on the ballot is a lot to track. Yesterday, I read this excellent article in the NY Times, which gives a great overview of what Nepal is facing in the upcoming elections.Considering that we just got our new production unit up and running, the section of the article about how the Maoist party extorts money stood out:If they refuse to pay — required donations range from $1,000 to $5,000, depending on the size of the business — they are told they will suffer serious vandalism or violence, they said.“The consequence is as simple as it is dramatic,” said one top Nepali businessman who asked to remain anonymous for fear of spurring further violence. “They will disrupt your business, damage your property and perhaps do violence to you and your employees. They’re fairly open about it when they need to be.”We’ve heard these reports before, seen the closed down factories, and talked to the businessmen that moved their companies elsewhere. Today was a bandh, which means roving gangs from the 33-party alliance harassed businesses that opened and vehicles that ventured onto the roads…it shut down nearly all commerce around the nation. The rest of the week until elections all public transportation will be similarly shut down, which means that we the PURNAA founders will be personally playing motorcycle taxis for our employees to be able to come to work (many of whom are single moms that live a fair distance from our office.)This situation is not something that would typically give hope for a new business. So, I was surprised by the comment from the local merchant about needing to have hope:But Gopal Tamkakar, a 58-year-old merchant, said he was optimistic. “Things will be calmer once they draft a constitution,” he said. “You have to have hope.”Hope seems to be something rare here these days. I personally don’t know many Nepalis who have bothered to register to vote. Most have seen too much corruption to believe in the system anymore.We founded PURNAA believing that business can transform society, that we can both create hope for people who come from exploited backgrounds and benefit a struggling nation. Good jobs can break many of the detrimental effects of poverty. I was encouraged recently reading “Poor Economics” about how a factory can change the whole future of a community. Steady income for one family member eases the enormous risk carried by most small business owners and farmers, results in productive savings, children in school, and better nutrition.So, in many ways, we agree with Gopal Tamkahar. We hope not only for things to be calmer, but for these elections to lead to a better Nepal, and for PURNAA to create hope for many many people who have lived without it for far too long.Katrina Bryant
Adventures in sourcing…This past month we have done a lot of work searching for fabric, which is not an easy task in Nepal. There is very little domestic textile manufacturing and most imported material fairly low quality, intended for small scale local tailors. Given that Nepal is the second poorest nation in Asia, for Nepali buyers, price is usually the biggest factor in purchase decisions; quality is a distant second and sustainability usually is not considered.So we brave the crazy traffic and crowded markets in search of good quality options here in Kathmandu. We also travel to India to look for cost effective ways to import high quality and sustainable material.At PURNAA, we want to produce beautiful products, that last a long time, and are made of sustainable materials. We believe that to create a great quality, sustainable garment, we need to start by taking care of the people making it. There were riots among garment sewers recently in Bangladesh, where workers were protesting the $38 per month pay. Not many people will choose to care very much about quality or the environment when they don’t make enough money to take care of their family.A friend recently said to me, “When you find something really cheap back home in America, somebody paid for that.” We’re learning that this is absolutely true in the garment industry. Sometimes we stumble upon great deals in the jungles of the Asian fabric markets, but we often ask ourselves, “What is the true cost? Who or what got short-changed so the price could be this low?” Was it the cotton farmers who received unfair prices at market, was it the environment that suffered under cheap but destructive farming practices, was it the workers in textile mills losing their hearing from the loud machines as they sweat in a building with no windows, a dirt floor, and tin roof for lousy pay, or maybe it was the local water supply polluted by unsafe dying practices.We are only one step in the long production process of the garments you wear. For now, we’ll keep tackling the crazy markets of South Asia to explore new ways to source sustainable fabrics at fair prices. But we hope that in treating our employees fairly and with dignity, we can inspire others in the supply chain to do the same. And when there is a hopeful future for the lives of textile and garment workers throughout this process, we believe the environmental sustainability will follow.Katrina Bryant
A couple days ago, I had just finished registering PURNAA for Nepal VAT (Value Added Tax) and met this kid near the line of motorcycles outside the tax office. I couldn’t help but laugh at his T-shirt. I lived for almost a year in Delhi in 2010-2011, and I guess I sympathize with his message.
True numbers for unemployment are difficult to find, but most sources put Nepal’s unemployment at more than 40% and it’s GPD per capita at $1300 (just above Afghanistan’s and roughly equal to Haiti’s.) Is it any wonder that nearly every young person I meet in Nepal wants to leave the country? They all pay exorbitant school fees in hopes that they can build a resume that is capable of landing a job or scholarship somewhere else.
Unfortunately, the paradise dream in other countries usually doesn’t materialize; and Nepalis, desperate to find ANY work, settle for whatever is available (hence the t-shirt about Delhi.) Many go to India, the Middle East, Korea, and South East Asia. 1 in 6 Nepalis have already left their country. This means nearly every family has a member somewhere else. I used to think military deployment schedules were hard on families, but knowing your spouse, brother, dad, sister is working hard labor in the blistering heat in the Middle East and won’t come home again for 3 years because plane tickets are too expensive is hard for families.
Even harder, is that many Nepali’s are duped into terrible work environments and cannot leave. It is common for workers to have their papers confiscated (“for safe keeping”) by work foremen. This effectively scares employees into believing they cannot leave a worksite for fear of being arrested as an illegal alien (a very serious crime in some countries in Asia.) A few weeks back, Saudi Arabia offer amnesty to workers trapped in just such a situation; 13,000 Nepalis applied for the amnesty program within the first week. They work in terrible conditions, to send money home, so their kids can get an education and perhaps escape Nepal to someplace better.
PURNAA is not a “jobs program.” We are simply a business that believes in doing the right thing, especially for those that work within our company. But our hope is that the more business we do in Nepal, the fewer Nepalis will feel the need to go somewhere else.Corban Bryant
Practical Ways to Fight Human Trafficking
Working in Nepal to help exploited people, we are frequently asked about human trafficking. Nepal became well known as a source region for trafficking thanks to the 2010 CNN hero of the year award to Anuradha Koirala the founder of Maiti Nepal and a subsequent documentary hosted by Demi Moore and featuring Ms. Koirala’s work. These media and many other recent reports, films, and books, have been very effective in educating people about the horror of human trafficking. Unfortunately, in such a challenging issues, it is often difficult to know how to get involved. Several months ago, I ran across this wonderful list of ways to fight human trafficking compiled by “Passion 2013,” and I’d like to share it here. (Unfortunately, it’s rather US centric and we know we have many readers in other countries, but perhaps it will still be useful for creating ideas about how to engage.)
Passion 2013 – 27 Ways to do moreYou can find the original list here: http://268generation.com/passion2013/action/
1. Take the Slavery Footprint Survey and learn how many slaves work for you – based on the things you purchase, wear, eat, use and purchase on a daily basis. SlaveryFootprint.org
2. Be a conscious consumer. Download and use the Free World App to let brands know that you care where they source items from for their products. itunes.apple.com/us/app/free-world/id466979649?mt=8
3. Demand that your senators, representatives, and government officials make fighting slavery a top priority.
· Here’s how you can contact them:
· Representative: WriteRep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml
4. Do research. Dig online, read books and articles, and watch films to learn as much as you can about the slavery issue.
5. Be aware. If you suspect trafficking call the National Trafficking Hotline. Plug the number in your phone: 1-888-3737-888
6. Start an International Justice Mission Chapter on your campus and rally a generation to fight for freedom. IJM.org/itmatters
7. Get trained to fight slavery. Attend one of the Not For Sale Abolitionist Academy’s to learn more about how you can identify and fight slavery. NFSAcademy.org
8. Stop viewing pornography and encourage your friends to stop. Human Trafficking and pornography are closely linked. When you consume pornography you are supporting trafficking. Stop.
9. Challenge airlines to provide training for all flight attendants on how to identify and watch for victims being trafficked. InnocentsAtRisk.org
10. Adopt, foster children, or become an orphan advocate. Orphans and risk children are more likely to become victims of trafficking, slavery, and sexual exploitation.
11. Breathe life and words of encouragement to girls who have been rescued from trafficking situations by writing letters to them. thea21campaign.org/write-a-letter.php
12. Read books about slavery, pass along the book or start a book club. Decide as a group how to take action. Suggested book list available at 268generation.com/passion2013/learn/
13. Get educated and learn the facts. Then, boldly use social media and opportunities in your community and sphere of influence to speak up.
14. Become an intern at an organization fighting slavery and/or trafficking on a local, nation, and/or global scale. Use your gifts, talents, and time to make a difference.
15. Act local. Get your church, friends, or group involved in fundraising, volunteering with, and serving a local organization caring for women and children who have been sexually exploited.
16. Fight slavery in the checkout line by learning about and refraining from purchasing items often produced by forced labor. Learn more by reading the Department of Labor’s List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor. dol.gov/ilab/programs/ocft/PDF/2011TVPRA.pdf
17. Eat Fair Trade chocolate and tell leaders in the chocolate industry to stop using child slave labor and institute labor standards among their suppliers.
18. Be creative. Use your gifts to raise awareness and fight for freedom right where you are. Write articles, make films, host events, go – the options are endless.
19. Engage with the CNN Freedom Project as they use their media influence to highlight slavery stories and help set captives free. TheCNNFreedomProject.blogs.cnn.com/
20. Challenge tourism suppliers such as hotels and airlines to sign and participate in the Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct. TheCode.org
21. Connect and/or support a local ministry working in your town that is reaching out to strip clubs and massage parlors to identify trafficking and offer alternative options for girls who want to escape.
22. Help report, document, and track cases of trafficking in your community and around the globe. slaverymap.org/
23. Buy goods and support organizations that are helping those rescued from slavery, trafficking, and sexual exploitation begin a new future.
24. Use your investments to fight slavery, not feed slavery. Learn more and take action to ensure slavery free investments: FreeTheSlaves.net/Page.aspx?pid=379
25. Demand companies to define and root out forced labor from their supply chains. chainstorereaction.com
26. Volunteer, teach a life skill class, be an academic mentor, or participate in home improvement project to help restore the women at Wellspring Living recovery shelter in Atlanta, GA. wellspringleague.org/?page_id=163
27. Teach young people that slavery still exists and challenge them to get involved. Parents, educators, youth and college pastors can help raise up the next generation of abolitionist. Parent and Educator Discussion Guide: cnn.com/2011/US/studentnews/04/04/freedomproject.teacher.guide/index.html
Also, we would add #28 to the list: Volunteer with PURNAA in beautiful Nepal!Corban Bryant