Someone asked me last week what the past few posts had to do with the book about Mahabir? Good question. My reply was; to understand the man you need to understand his country and I think reading these stories can build better insight into both. Each story started with Mahabir’s dream; just like this story about bead making.
Mahabir believes education is the key to improving all aspects of Nepali life. Education needs funding and people should be funding their own education. Based on this linear principle he has worked to establish income earning projects in the villages to support the school and provide jobs. These include; yak breeding, cheese production, fish farming, community trekking and paper making which is one of the oldest projects. The paper making industry produces paper made from a local renewable resource, the Lokta shrub. This provided the materials needed for paper bead making.
Paper beads are rolled from long, thin triangles of either new or recycled paper. Using the local Lokta paper, recycled papers and machines donated by Spellbinders, a craft supply company; steel rule dies donated by Apple Die, a metal manufacturer; and bamboo bead rollers donated by Janice Bautista, a paper bead artist; ten women from four villages participated in the workshop. They experimented with different weights and colors of paper to create paper earrings, necklaces and bracelets. The jewelry is sold to tourists who visit the villages and in Kathmandu.
The jewelry is a source of income and artistic accomplishment for the women. I asked them what they would do with the income. The answers included buying basic food products such as oil, salt and rice to purchasing school pencils for a younger brother to buying clothing. The effect is indirect but unquestionable. Improving a household’s income strengthens a family’s ability to care for themselves and opens options not previously available, such as sending a child to school beyond the ninth grade.
Join me next week as I describe the community trekking business…sure to make you want to grab a walking stick and amble through fields of wild flowers while gazing at the Himalayan mountains.