Changing the future for those most vulnerable

Over the past few months the UK Aid Direct team has made several trips to visit our in-country partners. We’ve seen first-hand the impact UK aid funded work is having on the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world. We wanted to share some of our journey with you….

Raising awareness of human trafficking

In the rural areas of Nepal human trafficking is a common occurrence. There is little opportunity of employment, and only a small chance people will be able to work themselves out of poverty.

So, when families are offered a chance to send a family member to India or the Gulf States, with the prospect of a better future they are quite easily convinced. They are told they will be able to send home money to support their family and ultimately improve all their lives. Sadly, this is often a lie and the beginning of a dark future where people are taken and used as slaves or sold into the sex trade. Sometimes the traffickers keep in touch with families to give the impression the person who left is fine, this way the family doesn’t come looking for them.

Impact grant holders, ChildHope UK and in-country partner Shakti Samuha are working to reduce human trafficking. Shakti Samuha, based in Nepal, is the first organisation in the world set up by people who were themselves once trafficked into slavery. They know first hand what can happen and how better to warn people of the dangers.

The ‘social mobilisers’ who work in the project, travel around the rural communities of Nepal. They work with community groups, women’s groups, youth groups and others, to talk to them about their experiences and raise awareness of the dangers. They also act as neighbourhood watch reporting any suspicious activity to the police.

Alongside this speaking to the community, the youth volunteers help get children back to school to make sure they have the prospect of a brighter future – a prospect which reduces the chance they will fall into hands of traffickers.

Creating a stable home

There are children in Tanzania who have no rights, they have run away and have no place to go. They live on the street.

With an Impact grant, Railway Children is working both directly with these children and with the Tanzanian Government to help improve life for this vulnerable group of young people.

They have put in place a re-integration project to help the children re-connect with their families and move home. They don’t just return the children to their family but work with the child and the parents to address why they ran away, trying to overcome the cause of the problem. Offering therapy sessions often helps.

The organisation also provides facilities where children without a home can come to eat, wash, learn and have a private place to lock away their valuables.

Anne Liedloff, Grants Officer for UK Aid Direct, met those involved first hand: “I went with staff to visit one of the children who had returned home. Three staff attended the visit so that they could give both the child and mother time to talk privately, whilst the third member of staff looked after her mother’s baby. Such care and consideration were taken to the personal needs of the family.”

Railway Children is also working with the Tanzanian Government to help them to recognise and find ways to implement the UN general comment on the rights of street children. This comment says children living on the street have rights, but it isn’t yet fully recognised by the Tanzania Government.

Access to financial support for women

In a Masai village in Tanzania women have come together to create their own community banking scheme with the support of Community Partnership grant holders’ African Initiatives, who are running several projects in the region.

With strong support from village leaders, these 24 women set up the scheme to create greater independence for the women of their community. They all pay into the scheme on a regular basis to help build up a pot of money. They want to eventually provide small loans to other women in their community so that they can set up their own businesses.

The fund is also there to support urgent social needs. One mother recently had to take her child to the next town for hospital treatment but did not have money to pay for the trip. The group provided financial support to cover the costs.

These are just a few examples of UK Aid Direct projects that are reaching people across the globe.

Spotlight on Street Child and their UK Aid Direct project

Street Child believe that achieving universal basic education is the single greatest step that can be taken towards the elimination of global poverty. 121 million school-aged children are currently out of education world-wide. Millions more are in school but failing to learn.

UK Aid Direct funding is supporting Street Child through an Impact grant, to run a 36-month project in Nepal. This grant is helping the Musahar community gain access to education, and is allowing them to build the skills needed to run their own businesses and break free from poverty.

Musahars are the most politically marginalised, economically exploited and socially outcast group in Nepal. They have been traditionally oppressed through a system of caste segregation that considers them pariahs. They are alienated from other communities – some people won’t even buy a cup of tea or food served by a Musahar.

The Musahar literacy rate is just 3.8% amongst women and girls and 100% are out of school after the age of 10. This project will support 3,650 Musahar girls aged 15 to 18 in Dhanusha, Mahottari and Siraha in Nepal, to achieve functional literacy and numeracy.

The girls take part in a tailored education programme which will also support them to transition into employment. This work will help them to overcome poverty and break free from generations of bonded labour; where a person pledges their services as a payment for a debt, but as the terms of the agreement are unclear the person holding the debt then has control over the labourer.

Many of the girls taking part in the education programme have been sharing their stories with us.

Three young girls tell their stories
Runa Devi (middle, red sari, 16), Dutri Devi (right, red & yellow sari, 18) and Sitli Devi (left, orange sari, 18)

These girls are neighbours from the same village and are enrolled in the education programme. They are all married, passionate and ambitious, determined to change attitudes to girls’ education in their communities and set up their own businesses. Sitli wants to run a grocery shop, Runa wants to set up a tailoring business and Dutri wants to create a cosmetics business.

Jiten sir (the community educator), was the one who informed us of the classes in the community centre and encouraged us to attend. In our first few months, we have learnt the Nepali alphabet and can count-up to 100. This encourages us and gives us hope about what we can learn with even more lessons.

Our families are very supportive, and our husbands encourage us to go to classes every day to get an education. We hope that with an education we can set up our own small businesses. The only shops we have in our village are liquor shops, run by men. By having our own businesses, we think we can set an example to our community and help change attitudes.

Nandani, a 25 year old mother of four is breaking down barriers by running her own successful fruit stall in Lahan, Siraha:

It’s been three years since I started this business. I save Rs.200 per day and Rs.6000 per month. I am very happy with it.

Three years ago, I didn’t work. My husband works as a mason. It used to be very difficult for us to manage our expenses. We sent our kids to school, but it used to be a struggle to cover their costs. I was not confident to work myself. Later, my husband supported me to start this business and we took a Rs.40,000 loan from Swabalamban Microfinance, as well as some money from creditors. We started the business with a few fruits.

Initially, I didn’t know how to do calculations, which is why I was losing money for a few months. But my daughter then taught me how to do them. Thanks to her, I can do all of the calculations for my business myself now.

I know the importance of sending my children to school and I’m so proud that all four of them are attending.

By educating and giving Musahar girls livelihood training, the project will enable them to eventually earn an income which will contribute to household costs and sending the next generation of Musahar children to school.

From Wednesday 26 September to Thursday 27 September 2018, an open learning and networking event for UK Aid Direct and UK Aid Match grant holders will take place in Bakhundole, Lalitpur in Nepal.

The objective of the event is to bring grant holders together to allow the sharing of experiences and learnings, as well as to provide a deeper understanding to grant holders of DFID’s strategy.

Street Child will be our hosts for the event.

On International Women’s Day, we celebrate improvements in SRHR for women in rural Nepal

UK Aid Direct grant holder, PHASE Worldwide is currently working to improve the lives and sexual and reproductive health and rights of women in rural Nepal.

Few organisations work in such remote places as PHASE Worldwide. It takes 2-3 weeks to arrive by donkey here.
Few organisations work in such remote places as PHASE Worldwide.

The Karnali region, which takes 2-3 weeks of travel on a donkey to access, is one of the poorest and most remote areas in Nepal.

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The region has the highest proportion of women (35%) in Nepal who report receiving no antenatal care.

Contraceptive prevalence is lower than the national average and only 45% of women aged between 15 and 49 have reported receiving antenatal care (at least once) from a skilled individual, with just 29% of deliveries attended by a qualified health worker.

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PHASE Worldwide is making great strides to change these statistics.

The organisation employs qualified health workers who live in the community and work closely with government staff in health services.

Based in the government health centre 4 days a week, and conducting outreach activities 2 days a week, PHASE staff build strong relationships with local women’s groups and provide workshops and community meetings to offer a platform for discussions and working together.

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Health workers offer guidance on issues such as hygiene and the dangers from certain cultural practices such as Chhaupadi, when mothers are excluded from the family home during (and after) childbirth, and during menstruation.

Maila health post Humla: a PHASE Auxilary Nurse Midwife listens to baby's heartbeat

Maila health post Humla: a PHASE Auxilary Nurse Midwife listens to baby’s heartbeat

The major change that has happened as a result of this project is that many of the women in the region are attending the birthing centre to have their babies. Since PHASE started work in 2008 no women have died in childbirth in the village and very few babies have died, both common events before the project started.

The major change which has happened as part of this project is that many of the women in the region are attending the birthing centre to have their babies.

Thank you to PHASE Worldwide for sharing their stories and photographs with us.