VIDEO

Nepal - The Story of TEWA
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TEWA is the preeminent women’s non-governmental
organization in Nepal. It raises funds inside Nepal and elsewhere to support
national and grassroots women’s empowerment programs that fight effectively for
economic opportunity, social justice, peace and gender equality.
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felicity heffernanFelicity Heffernan

 

Throughout my 35 year career I have always been involved with finance. From the time I left school I worked in a Bank. When I left my bank job to have children I set up a Vendor Finance business to assist people with finance to buy a home without bank finance. I took a 2 year unplanned sabbatical in 2008, I was exhausted and needed a break, I discovered that being bored was way worse than being exceptionally busy. I was inspired after my 2010 trip to East Africa, to reignite my business interest, and established a Mortgage Brokering and Property Advisory business with the view that some of my profits could be used to support my charitable interests. I have now written a book titled Limitless Wealth and the profits from the book are donated to Living Goods.

In March 2010 I had the most wonderful opportunity to see Micro Credit in action. I was introduced to Susan Cornwell Wilkes from ‘Adventures in Giving” now Global Horizons for Women. The particular area of the organization’s expertise is raising awareness of microcredit or microenterprise lending in the most unique way by taking groups to developing nations and experiencing the amazing work of Micro credit agencies first hand. Traditionally the only way for most us to help is to donate money hoping it gets to the right people. This can be a little uninspiring, leaving some people to think the developing world is a hopeless case and there is nothing we can do. This trip just opened my eyes, to how we can help in so many ways.

The personal experience was just so much more – being able to meet the people who had benefited from these programs blew me away. Not only were women able to provide for their family by being in their own business, they benefited from many more spin offs. The biggest one, of course, is the empowerment of women who traditionally have not had their true worth valued. I loved how all those women valued education and how they felt that if their children were educated, their family and local community could improve. The extension to that was how their country will eventually improve hence the hope I could see on their faces.

Micro credit organizations operate on a very personal level – they really know their clients. In depth assessments are done to qualify people for amounts to borrow and affordability. The micro credit organization offers a very holistic approach to loaning money it is not just assessing people to see if they can qualify for loans, they offer everything from improving literacy to in depth business training. The people are supported all the way through the process. All the organizations that we met were aiming to be sustainable in their own right without having to rely on funds from foundations and charities.

My favorite organization was Living Goods. The Living Goods business model is huge on education and is designed to grow profits whist driving lasting social and economy change. The community health providers are invited into the local branch on a regular basis for education on products and common ailments. The women are taught how to record health information about each client on a card as well as bookkeeping skills. After our meeting with the Living Goods team we drove out to a slum in Kampala to meet a couple of the women community health providers. The most amazing of the women was named Betty. I can see why Betty was selected – very vivacious and a get up and go girl. Betty gave us a demonstration on her lecture for that day which was on breast-feeding. Bearing in mind Betty has had no toast master training – she was a natural and very entertaining presenter who would give most professional speakers a run for their money! Betty shared a story of one her clients – A young mother was holding a sick child. The child’s stomach was very swollen, eyes were sunken and runny and the child was crying all the time. The mother was told that the young child was bewitched because of the local remedies had worked. Betty said that the child had worms and left the mother with 1 worm tablet and said pay her when she came back in a few days’ time. The mother very suspiciously accepted the tablet. Betty went back a few days later and the child had made a remarkable recovery and the mother was so happy. Betty’s status within the village has been elevated greatly – they are regarded as “Musawos” meaning nurse. I made a recent enquiry through Living Goods to see how Betting was going – She is now in charge of 12 women on her team.

Felicity Heffernan

Valentine NSW Australia