It has been a while since I wrote a post about a Ten Thousand Villages artisan. This is something I like to do regularly because I so much respect Ten Thousand Villages for advancing fair trade and handcrafting, and I admire the work of their talented international artisans. Today's post is about a collective who makes something dear to my heart: paper!
Get Paper Industry
Nepal is among the world's poorest countries. Almost half of the country's working age population is unemployed or under-employed. Because of this, nearly 2 million people have left Nepal to seek work in other countries, leaving their families and communities behind. With Nepal's population of 27 million, GPI's employment opportunities might seem like a drop in the bucket. What stands out to me, though, is that GPI has provided job opportunities for such a long time through so much political and economic uncertainty, and the cooperative has provided employment for uneducated women, a demographic that typically has few employment opportunities in Nepal.
- Girls' education: In Nepal, girls' education is generally not prioritized. GWP's ongoing response to this includes operating five primary schools specifically for girls.
- AIDS awareness: GWP has over 100 staff conducting AIDS awareness activities with sex workers, factory workers, police forces, truck drivers, and students. The organization also works to prevent trafficking of girls and women.
- Environmental conservation: GWP sponsors planting programs to rejuvenate vegetation in depleted areas.
- Income generation for girls and women: GWP runs credit and employment programs to help girls and women gain sustainable income. 60 groups involving nearly 1000 girls participate in income generating programs like chicken farming, goat keeping, buffalo keeping, cow raising, paper making, and hairdressing and esthetics.
It's pretty easy for me to get deliriously excited about a piece of paper. But I can get downright passionate and weepy about a piece of paper that has dried in the sunshine after being carefully mixed and pressed by a Nepalese woman working for Get Paper Industry. There's a great deal of good, compassion and strength behind that delicately textured sheet of paper.