Then on the third and unfortunately on my last day we started with the new women's project. Since I had arrived annoyingly without Sahin, I now had to organize everything alone. Which in
retrospect was even better. Bibas and Heman had told the women for me in advance, they thought we could count on about 30 women. Punctually on the minute the women appeared, there they came and
came and came. Oh God, that's more than 30 I thought, in the end there were 70 women. :) They all squeezed into the small classroom. And as women are, they were all chattering away because they
were so excited. Just like at home I thought. :) We quickly brought a bit of calm into the women's group. I had prepared a few questions for them which I asked them together with Heman. At the
beginning I still thought, whether they will tell everything, although Heman is a man? Because I had also asked very personal questions. But they were very open-minded, and had no problem
answering the following questions. I wanted to know if there are still arranged marriages, they said times are changing and you have to adapt. In the past, it was common to let your parents
choose your partner, but not anymore nowadays. That reassured me a lot. Now and then it would still happen if the woman did not find a husband. Then I asked a few questions about when women have
their periods. In some regions of Nepal it happens that the women have to go to a separate house during this time until the period is over. Here in Chheskam, however, they do not. But they are
not allowed to leave their own house during this time. Then I wanted to know if there are pads or tampons like in our country. They denied, they then put on about 5 underpants at the same time.
We decided in October, when I come back, bring special underpants with an insert that they can wash. They can use this special underpants for a long time. :)
Then I wanted to know how they give birth to their children. I know that in some cultures there are midwives who do this. These midwives are not trained like here, but they learn the skill from their mothers and grandmothers. In Chheskam, that doesn't exist, or doesn't exist anymore. Somehow they always manage, even alone, to deliver the baby. Either they make it to Bung to the hospital, or they do it at home. 10% of the children unfortunately die at birth. The mortality rate used to be 50%, so it has improved a lot. One woman told about her first birth: she was in the woods, when the contractions started. She sat down and gave birth. She had cut the umbilical cord with an axe. And then proudly walked home with the child. With the firewood, of course. Unbelievable this story, isn't it? But I also think that it was not different with us in the past. When I told them that we had maternity leave, they had to laugh for a long time. :)
Then I wanted to know what else they do besides farming, getting firewood and leaves for the animals. Then we came to talk about their possible sales opportunity. Since I have been in Chheskam I had observed that the women are always busy with a thread. They are spinning themselves. They don't have a spinning wheel, they do it themselves. And they do it all day, in all their activities. So when they carry wood home, they are also spinning. That's why I wanted to know how they make it. They go to the forest and look for nettles, their stalks give them the fibers they need for spinning. After harvesting, the fibers are washed and smoothed before they can be used. With the finished threads they then make incredibly beautiful things. They have a loom or rather they sit on the floor and weave, you can find pictures at the end. To dye the threads they take hair dye. Well the problem now with the finished stuff is that they can't sell it anywhere. For that Sahin would have been there. Now Pasang and I will try to find a place, a store, where we can sell the products for them. We will talk to Lhakpa if he can sell the products in Lukla in his store belonging to the hotel. I am anxious to hear his response, which is still pending. This would be a way for the women to earn money themselves. I will keep you informed.
Then I wanted to know from the women if they could read and write. They answered in the negative, of course. We asked if they would like to learn how to read and write. And then there was a lot of confusion. They were suddenly very excited. I wanted to know from Heman what was going on, and he just said that they wanted it very much. So we divided the big group into three groups and decided to start tomorrow. Again big confusion talking. :) But they would have no scribes, no book, no problem we said, that will all be organized. I got a whole box of colors from Caran d'ache, these can also use the women, not only the children. :) We then got the notebooks for writing in the village store. The lessons will now take place once a week until October. When I come back then, we can show the women what they can do. I am very much looking forward to this moment.
This women's project is going well, very well. I can feel that. :) I am very happy and the women can hardly believe their luck. They are so happy to be the center of attention now.