LSSF believes that women play a critical role in the sustainable development of rural communities.
We work to:
When we opened our first school (the Metta School) we were brought face to face with unforeseen and overwhelming challenges. Most of the children who joined our program were not adequately dressed, and many had unwashed faces, unkempt hair, and had not brushed their teeth. These young faces looked up to us, smeared with dust and runny noses. Most upsetting, was the realization that so many of these children, despite living in the ‘bread basket’ of the country, were suffering from malnutrition. We were surprised to learn that the cause was not poverty or a lack of food, but a lack of awareness about nutrition. Although we immediately implemented curriculum focused on health and hygiene into our first classes, it soon became clear that these issues could not be tackled by teachers alone.
It is then that we began to realize the impact of women and mothers in family health, sanitation, and nutrition.
We began to understand that if a mother knows how to prepare a balanced meal and is educated on sanitation, then she can help raise a healthy family. This was the beginning of our focus on women’s education.
As we learned more about the situation of women and girls in Lumbini society, we became aware of the silent biases and discrimination against them. We found that the roots of their suffering went deep – malnutrition, infant mortality, and forced early marriage without having any knowledge about health, hygiene, or family planning. Our group of young volunteers learned, painfully, that women were unable to take their lives and their health into their own hands, perpetuating cycles of poverty, ignorance, and pain.
We understood that we needed to rethink, very fundamentally, the nature of our society.
Indeed we learned that in order to help rural communities, we needed to educate young girls, empower young women, and play a significant role in challenging gender roles.
LSSF supports local village women by providing vocational tailoring courses free of charge.
At Karuna Girls College 25 women participate in our vocational program, and at our Punnihawa School there are 30 women. Our two teachers have a long list of 30+ women waiting to enroll, so classes are offered on rotation to give more women the chance to participate.
By learning to tailor and making/fixing clothes themselves, women are able to cut their family expenses and also generate extra income if needed. Finally, the socio-psychological advantages of peer interaction benefit women by increasing confidence, self-esteem, and by improving household relations.
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