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Adventurous women rally to Spicebuild in East Nepal



27 June 2013

Adventurous women rally to Spicebuild in East Nepal

Aucklanders Laura Burley and Christine Williams are heading to East Nepal in September to lead an all women house building project - and they are looking for other keen volunteers to join them.

In late September, fifty kiwi women will go to Ghailadubba in Jhapa, East Nepal to assist a local group, Nari Chetana Women Agricultural Cooperative, which is working in partnership with Habitat for Humanity (HFH), the international affordable housing charity. The result will be three new homes built from sustainable bamboo and adobe brick for local women needing shelter for their families.

Treasurer of the Nari Chetana, Lata Shrestha has advised HFH that much of the community relies on selling local spices. Currently, community members are travelling 40 kilometres to use a spice grinder machine. Gill Burns, overall leader of the New Zealand volunteers has offered to assist in fundraising towards the cost of buying the community their own spice grinder machine to save travel and time for the women. This sparked the name for the project, “Spicebuild”. In addition, the women have requested support to buy a computer and set up an office there.

We require volunteers to join us on the build and assist us in these fundraising efforts.

The inspirational Nari Chetana Agricultural Women Cooperative was established 12 years ago by 15 women to provide a means for them to save, and to lend money to group members at low interest rates. Along the way they gained a reputation of standing up for women’s interests. Going from strength to strength - now with a membership of 300+ - and learning to grow vegetables and spices to feed themselves and for profit, these women have secured a small piece of land on which to build a modest office. Lately they have also decided to widen their services to house needy members in their midst.

The new houses will be occupied by families who are required to help in the construction and who will repay the cost of the home in time in affordable payments. They are likely to have grown and prepared the bamboo and adobe themselves too.

Gill Burns says “Habitat has a philosophy of offering a hand-up not a handout, and these women have well and truly proven they want to be independent. I feel privileged to be able to work alongside them”

The Spicebuild will take place from 28 September till 7 October 2013, planned to fit with NZ school holidays and when the weather is kindest in Nepal. Overall cost will be about $5000. After this, team members can return to NZ or embark on R&R organised separately by Travel Managers. Burns anticipates interest in this special project will be high, and all those wanting to be part of it and add some spice to their lives need to signal their commitment by the end of May.

She adds: “volunteers don’t need any special building skills but reasonable fitness is essential, and a flexible ’can do’ attitude helpful.”

This is the first of what is hoped to become an annual event, but it is the second time to Nepal for Williams, who took part in the 500-strong Everest Build 2 project near Kathmandu last year. She and Burns are eager to return and keep making a difference to one of the world’s poorest countries. “It was one of the most amazing and fulfilling experiences of a life time, and I am so excited about the opportunity to help lead a team of all woman back to support the Nari Chetana Agricultural Women Cooperative” says Williams.


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