WELNepal - an introduction

5 Nepal Women

“One Bagmara woman said that after learning to read and write, she felt more confident
when communicating with others, introducing herself to people, and was able to write
letters and keep records in her home.”
∼ David Walton

In 1996, former Toronto photographer David Walton met a woman in Nepal who needed help writing a letter to a Dutch donor. The woman told David (who soon became known as "David Daai" or "brother David") that she needed to ask her friend and supporter for $100 to continue a literacy course she was running for local women. David told her he would be more than happy to donate to her class, and thus the seeds of WELNepal were planted.

Early on, the scope of David's mission (which wasn't quite a mission yet) was small. People wanted help, and he wanted to help them. He said he was grabbed by the spirit of the women, and often says their desires — not his presence — were the catalysts for change. That desire for change, percolating in the hearts of a small group of women, led to the formation and growth of what is now known as Women's Education and Literacy in Nepal.

WELNepal's mandate is simple: teach women of all ages to read and write. That said, the organization is about more than just ABCs. An education can give a person strength, confidence and ambition. It doesn't just open doors, it obliterates barriers. In the past, a rural Nepali woman might not have been able to road a road sign or count change, thereby limiting her independence. Today, she can learn to read and educate herself about her health, her country and her options. Education allows people to join together and share knowledge, assistance and experience. Education helps break down caste barriers.

WELNepal funds literacy classes run by women for women. We provide libraries, as well as lectures on women's health, wellness, rights and empowerment. We also provide lectures on ecology and new farming methods, a crucial tool for rural Nepali women. We also help women form income generating projects so they can support themselves and their families once their literacy training is complete.

WELNepal was not created to convince Nepali women that their country or culture is inferior. It was created to give women the choice to obtain an education. It has given women the resources to learn, and to take from their learning what they will and apply it, if they choose, to their own lives and culture. The goal is not intellectual colonization. The goal is empowerment.