Ready, steady, Offa we go.....

Written on Friday 18th June 2021

Today has been an emotional day for the first trainees at Lily's Leaves as they completed their six-month-long tailoring training course. Five young women (one from Sindhupalchok and four from Dhanusha District) were absolutely thrilled to receive their certificates from their proud trainer, Meena. Then, after a final meal at our hostel, it was time to pack up and climb into a jeep for the long drive home. Aman's little son gave a wave of farewell - I wonder what he's made of being in Kathmandu since all he had known beforehand was village life in remote south Nepal.

Now for the next chapter as we support these women into work, the starting point for that being our gift of a sewing machine each. If, after some time at home, a graduate wishes to return for six months of advanced training or join the Lily's Leaves production team that will be fine. Part of the empowerment outcome is that women now have choices in life.

It's also important to realise how these women are also trailblazers. When they agreed to join the course there were understandable reservations and suspicions from families and communities in their home District where traffickers call by with big promises. Now the word will go around that a course at Lily's Leaves is the chance of a lifetime. Perhaps the only opportunity to escape from a life of unrelenting poverty.

Rojina from Sindhupalchok receives her certificate
Five course graduates
Aman prepares a final meal at the Lily's Leaves hostel
A farewell wave before the long drive home

There remains a challenge though, that is a potential show-stopper. It's the very obvious need for Pipal Tree to raise the funds to sustain the programme until such times as Lily's Leaves can be self-sustaining through sales of garments, bags and jewellery. We don't receive any government funding and it's up to us to find donations from individuals or grants from clubs and Foundations. So far, our Big Give summer appeal is going very well, having reached at time of writing £13,424 towards our appeal target of £22,800. All online gifts are being matched pound for pound (or in any major currency) which means that we have 10 days to find £4,688 in new donations. I have an idea on how to hit that target!

After drawing a line under the intensive fundraising of June, I will be setting off on the 5th July to take one more thing off my bucket-list - the completion of the 177-mile Offa's Dyke long distance trek. The restrictions on foreign travel present an opportunity for all of us to experience the best of what our home countries have to offer as holiday venues and activities. And Offa's Dyke certainly falls within the "Best of Britain" category. It was constructed in the latter half of the 8th Century by Offa, King of Mercia, as a defensive barrier that would keep the marauding Welsh people in their place. So, it broadly follows the English/Welsh border from Chepstow in the south to Prestatyn in the north. As a keen amateur historian, I can't wait to see how much of it remains visible. But no doubt there'll be lots for the naturalist that lies within me to appreciate as well.

Why don't you join me (virtually) and enjoy these delights vicariously through the private password-protected blog that I will be writing? I will be looking for quirky things along the way, hopefully meeting some interesting people who have a story to tell or a joke to share. And for the first three days of the 14-day trek I will be joined by my old friend Nigel Clarke (see "Trusted to Deliver" in the testimonials section on the website) who certainly has an eye for beautiful things as well as the unusual and the absurd. Maybe, if you happen to live near the route or know someone who does, you might be able to offer some recommendations of things to see or provide some introductions?

Here's the deal:

  • For £10 or more donated now, I will share the private link to my blog
  • For £25 or more I will also send you a postcard (remember those?) from somewhere along the way
  • For £50 or more I will also send you a small gift from Nepal after I complete the trek

All of these have negligible monetary value, so, any donations using the button below qualify for Gift Aid if you are a UK tax payer:

Thank you and I hope you can join me!

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