HomeAdventureKnitting a brand new path: How an opportunity assembly modified the whole...

Knitting a brand new path: How an opportunity assembly modified the whole lot


Suryamaya Thapa was knitting in secret, hiding her craft expertise from her husband and her disabilities from the surface world, when a last-minute determination modified the trajectory of her life.  

Suryamaya lived within the bustling hub of Kathmandu however she most popular to remain indoors – when she went out, she was usually mocked for her disabilities. So, she’d keep in, knitting whereas her husband was at work.  

Naturally, when her neighbour urged she accompany her to a free workshop that taught girls the way to promote garments and different merchandise they’d made, she was hesitant to affix her.  

However, with some encouragement, Suryamaya went alongside and met a younger Australian, Steph Wollard, who’d organized that coaching day. The opposite girls who’d joined the workshop made garments and different craft items, identical to Suryamaya. And so they all tuned in to discover ways to hone their expertise and promote their items for revenue. 

After assembly the ladies that day and listening to their tales, Steph needed to supply extra girls in Nepal with expertise coaching and training to generate an revenue and energy their independence. 

She went on to discovered Seven Girls in 2006 and spent 17 years serving to to teach and make use of 1000’s, each in-person and with digital coaching, earlier than handing the organisation over to native management in 2023. Whereas staying true to it’s unique mission, Seven Girls morphed into it’s subsequent part of philantrophy and have become Sungabha Nepal

Suryamaya began working with the organisation – making garments and incomes a gradual revenue as an worker – shortly after its inception in 2006, and she or he’s nonetheless there as we speak. However she’s hardly the identical individual she was when she joined nearly 20 years in the past.  

Discovering power amid materials scraps 

As we sit collectively on the ground of a tiny workplace above the stitching room at Sungabha Nepal – fragrant, freshly brewed chai in hand – Suryamaya quietly explains how completely different her outlook was earlier than she got here right here. ‘I had a mindset that I can’t exit, or I can’t work,’ she says.  

She paused momentarily earlier than putting her heat mug on the small espresso desk in entrance of her. ‘More often than not, individuals round me additionally used to tease me, like, bully me. So I most popular to remain inside my residence.’  

She advised me she would come to the complicated, hidden within the coronary heart of chaotic Kathmandu, day by day. She’d concentrate on enhancing her knitting and studying new trades like stitching, crocheting and felt weaving earlier than she discovered her ardour for tailoring. 

Like many different girls who discover hope within the form of the quaint two-storey complicated crammed with stitching machines and craft items, Suryamaya got here to study new expertise. She didn’t anticipate that she’d additionally discover confidence, independence and power. 

‘Due to my bodily incapacity, my legs weren’t robust, my palms weren’t robust. So, my thoughts was additionally not robust. I used to really feel very scared when individuals would come to speak to me,’ she confesses. 

She smiles, ‘After getting concerned right here, I felt I acquired a form of confidence. I needed to face lots of people. And since I had some expertise in my hand, I used to be actually empowered.’ 

Small steps, huge affect 

Nepal remains to be, for essentially the most half, a patriarchal society so girls are anticipated to remain residence and full family chores whereas the lads exit to work. 

Add bodily disabilities to an already hefty checklist of limitations for ladies coming into the workforce, and the revenue that grants them independence appears almost unattainable to realize. 

‘I really feel like I’m not disabled anymore as a result of I’m handled properly, like different in a position individuals.’ 

However Suryamaya was decided to construct a brand new life free from stigmas and gender inequality.  

‘I actually wish to encourage different girls,’ she says. ‘Let’s not rely on anybody else and attempt to study one thing so that you simply’ll have the ability to be unbiased and stay the life that you really want.’ 

Training and job alternatives can change the lifetime of a person. However, greater than that, it helps change society’s notion of girls and other people residing with disabilities.  

‘I really feel like I’m not disabled anymore as a result of I’m handled properly, like different in a position individuals.’ 

A style of Nepali tradition 

Full of inspiration after sitting down with Suryamaya, I made my technique to the massive kitchen out the again the place the staff run conventional cooking lessons for travellers, one other one of many methods Sungabha Nepal creates employment alternatives for ladies. I threw on one among their hand-made aprons and chef’s hats, every matching with maroon and navy patchwork, and did my greatest to comply with together with their native cooking teacher. 

In the identical manner the comfy craft workshop helps assist girls with expertise coaching and employment, these cooking lessons give native girls an opportunity to share a bit of their tradition with travellers whereas incomes an revenue with their expertise. 

Nepal Kathmandu Seven Women cooking class Image by Yvette Scott
The cooking lessons give travellers a real style of Nepali tradition.

With a small group of simply 5 different girls on Intrepid’s Nepal Girls’s Expedition, I chopped greens, added spices and stirred steaming pots of liquid till my coronary heart was content material. On the finish of the category, we sat down collectively and loved the normal dahl bhat and sticky rice pudding we’d created underneath the steerage of our charismatic native instructor.  

On my manner out, I handled myself to just a little hand-made retail remedy within the small reward store of their courtyard. The entire items right here – hand-made garments, crocheted toys and candy equipment – are made with love by the ladies working there, together with Suryamaya. Now, that’s a memento with a distinction. 

You possibly can go to Sungabha Nepal, be part of a cooking class for your self and get your palms on some hand-made presents on Intrepid’s Nepal: Girls’s Expedition or Premium Nepal. 

Word: Suryamaya and I swapped tales with the assistance of a translator who shared my questions with Suryamaya in Nepali and her responses with me in English. All pictures by Yvette Scott.

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