The Sisterhood of Survivor program in Nepal has come a long way. Initially just a dream to bring survivors of human trafficking into the tourism industry, providing sustainable funding for SASANE’s nonprofit programs. SASANE’s program has trained 10 survivors as paralegals, making them the first point of contact for other survivors. In order to better support this program, SASANE went on to develop a successful mo:mo demonstration and lunch for G Adventures’ travellers through a $25,000 USD catalyst grant from G Adventures and Planeterra, and even won the 12th United Nations World Tourism Award for Excellence and Innovation in Non-Governmental Organizations in 2016. Today, they are dreaming even bigger with the launching of their own trekking business to support northern communities and provide alternative income opportunities, decrease poverty, and combat human trafficking which is prevalent in the area.
I had the opportunity to catch up with Laxmi, a founding member of SASANE and now the lead of the trekking business, to learn more about their progress in starting this new business.
What is the purpose of this new trekking business?
“Our trekking program is targeting the mountain village [Ghyangphedi]. Our goal is to develop the poor communities. They need education and opportunities. Someday, we can work with other villages too.” Ghyangphedi is a vulnerable village, as “there are no job opportunities”, this remote village relies on older agricultural practices, leaving children at risk of being trafficked if an influx of cash is needed. “We did an education program, but now they need an alternative income source.” SASANE has been working with this village for years in order to educate children about human trafficking and their rights. They hope to bring travellers to this villages led by their own guides.
How are you making this happen
“Since 2015 we are sending our girls for guiding license.” SASANE has already sent 10 girls for their guiding license. Right now these guides are building their skills while working with Planeterra and G Adventures in the Sisterhood of Survivors mo:mo demonstration. They have also just launched a new website, are are beginning to create partnerships in the industry to better promote their business.
“We still need experience to gain expertise [in guiding]. Now we are taking our volunteers for trekking. This is very new for us!” The sisters receive a 35-day guide training in theory and practice.
What is next for SASANE?
“Now we are bringing some of the girls from the Ghyangphedi here [Kathmandu] to learn hospitality skills so they can go back home and do hospitality properly. We still need help with the homestays in the village.” There are only 4 homestays now, but before the earthquake there were 10. SASANE had invested in the bathrooms and toilets to improve the quality of these homestays. “We want to help them, but we need to fundraise first.”
Over the coming months SASANE will continue to seek out training for their guides and work on improving the homestays located in the northern villages they are working to support. SASANE has just begun their journey into their trekking business, and we’re very excited to see the impact of their dream in the future.