“The aim is to assist in the creation of sustainable futures for disadvantaged women. We also believe that all women have the right to be educated and be able to provide shelter, care and nutritious food for their children,” Jan said. “Today, our successful women’s program runs vocational education classes out of our cramped Didi Headquarters in Kathmandu where life skills programs, such as sewing, computer education, literacy and social enterprise businesses, teach from 420 to 660 women a week”. The outcomes are impressive: 835 women have graduated from vocational courses in 4.5 years; there has been an 85% success rate of women gaining employment and 64% have started their own business.
Since 2014 Didi Foundation’s outreach service has included a women’s health program with an emphasis on teaching women about their reproductive system. “This has seen nearly
1000 women educated and over 600 women attending free medical clinics. One area of focus is the care and treatment of prolapse. Didi Foundation has facilitated 30 operations for women for 3rd degree prolapse. It also maintains educational sponsorship to a boarding school for hearing impaired children, a school for child labourers and a remote school in Ramechhap”. Jan’s world was turned upside down again when the devastating earthquakes struck the country. Many lives were lost, whole villages decimated and many more injured and displaced. Jan was on her way to Tibet with two volunteers and had crossed the border into China when the town they had just left was wiped out and her van was hit by falling rocks.
Missing for ve days and with no means of contacting worried family and friends, they had to endure makeshift shelters and little food, while tremors continued in the dangerous and mountainous terrain around them. “We were very calm during the ve days but it was not easy listening to the frightened screams of women and children,” she told me. “We also talked about dying as the destruction around us forced us to continuously confront our mortality”.
On the 5th day they were able to make contact and continued on their way to Tibet. “I wanted to go straight back to check on the children and the Foundation’s work but was not allowed,” she said. Five weeks later she did return to a land shattered by this catastrophe.