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Local Women’s Summit 2019

Today, on the first day of the Local Women’s Summit, Nasreen and the ladies toured some of the most regarded sites of Kathmandu.

Local Women's Summit 2019
Nasreen and our visitors for Local Women’s Summit 2019

The morning began with a visit to The Garden of Dreams, where the group enjoyed the green oasis and also discussed Nepali culture. Nasreen spoke about the systems and traditions of Nepal, sharing information on the ethnic groups, demographics, and the unfortunate impacts of the caste system.

After walking the gardens the ladies ventured to Boudhannath Stupa it is one of the largest unique structure’s stupas in the world. In Buddhism, the light of Asia and symbol of peace, harmony, wisdom and conscience. Buddha eyes of wisdom, which sees the world of Dhamma. Prame, a local tour guide, explained the significance of the Buddhist monument. Everyone circled the stupa, spinning the prayer wheels as they rounded chanting “om mani padme hum”, mean that in dependence on the practice of a path which is an indivisible union of method and wisdom, you can transform your impure body, speech, and mind into the pure exalted body.

Lunch was had on the roof of La Casita, with a breathtaking view over the stupa and into the mountains.

The last stop of the day was Pashupatinnah Temple, an extremely important site for people practicing Hinduism. The women learned about the significance of the temple and its dedication to Lord Shiva, the god of destruction. Along the river is the powerful sight of dead bodies being burned. The group also participated in a Hindu ceremony led by a local priest, who guided them through mantras and blessed each participant with flowers, holy water, and beads.

Paloma, a Mexican energy healer, finished the day with a black tourmaline ceremony about releasing negative emotions. The entire day was a beautiful, communal experience and a colorful exploration of Nepali culture.

Thank you everyone for being part of our Local Women’s Summit and we can’t wait to visit the Local Women’s Handicraft center tomorrow.

From Survivor to Activist: An Open Letter and Call to Action for Corporations & Respective CEO’s Holding the Power to Initiate Global Change

Dear CEO’s,

What does Fair Trade mean to you? Does it mean eradicating child labor, forced labor and giving a voice to the undocumented workers? Does it mean buying and selling fairly? Or does it mean transforming the world holistically through the agreement’s original principles? Most people think of Fair Trade as being sustainable, safe working conditions, and a living wage; however, in my experience, this is not commonplace.

I was born in a remote village where neither birth nor death records are kept. In fact, if you were to ask me how old I am, I couldn’t tell you honestly. I can guess that I first became a child laborer between the ages of 9 and 10 years old. I worked for well-known clothing corporations that used loosely regulated foreign manufacturing. In order to keep up with the corporation’s demands for low cost and fast production, these factories created illegal sweatshops in Nepal’s inner cities using undocumented workers.

As illustrated in the facts below, there are millions of undocumented, men women and children suffering at the hands of corporate profits:

  • 40.3 million men, women and children are victims of slavery internationally
  • 151.6 million children aged 5 to 17 are child laborers
  • Over 1 billion people live under $1 dollar a day
  • 35% of all birth and 60% deaths go unrecorded
  • Every 2 seconds a girl is forced into marriage to produce more free labor

Sadly, being an undocumented child put me at great risk to all of these things. Six of us lived, worked, and slept in a 10×10’ room without a bathroom nor clean water. We were forced to work seven days a week for 10 to 12 hours a day, getting paid less than $2 a day. My only bed was the large pile of clothes I produced each day. At night, I fell asleep on these clothes and dreamt of where they would end up and who would wear them. If you are reading this and do not know who made your clothes, you may be wearing the clothes I sewed as a child.

In the sweatshops, I witnessed how chemicals and dyes were discarded into our waterways and drained illegally. Due to industrial waste, our once beautiful rivers that ran through the city are nearly dry. Today, industrial pollutants are the leading poison in Nepal’s rivers. Nature has never known suffering like this, all by the hands of irresponsible and unaccountable corporate manufacturing. In fact, we have lost 30% of our natural resources.

The purpose of this letter is simple: I am asking you to take action to help make a change in the way we produce and trade goods that ensures the rights of every human being and that protects our environment.

In 1946, the values that established what we know as Fair Trade today were compassion, peacemaking, and services that included a spiritual component rather than financial gain. Throughout my experience, I have seen how Fair Trade principles can literally restore the human spirit through a sense of dignity and pride. Imagine what true Fair Trade could do for the 7.3 billion souls living on this planet!

The principles of Fair Trade have the potential to heal mass suffering in the world while simultaneously offering an abundant and thriving system of global trade. Additionally, there is a growing market for conscientious buying and it may behoove you both from a financial, and humanitarian, angle to consider my plea. My experience as a child laborer opened my eyes to the individual, environmental, and societal damages incurred from corporations who prioritize higher profit margins over the quality of life in poorer countries even though conscientious production is not only possible but profitable and impactful.

When considering our larger societies and their economies, we are mostly concerned with buying, selling, and competing with each other; hence, we have become a money driven and competitive society. By our actions it seems we do not care about human rights or our environment. This statement is proven evident by most of the American and European corporations who move production to poorer countries to make profits off of humanity and their environment. When the buyer negotiates with these manufacturers, they only discuss the product, quantity, price, and timeline, but don’t survey the production sites. If they did, they would have found my 9-year old face in that unmarked building, and perhaps my village wouldn’t be undocumented. In 2018, the people of that village’s births and deaths would have been recorded, and my aunt wouldn’t have been murdered because she advocated for her basic human rights.

Now, as an adult, I am educated, empowered, and fully aware that all social injustices are actually solvable problems. It’s up to us to change the world for each and every one of us but you and your corporation have far more power to effect change. We live in a globally connected world where the actions of one person or one country or one corporation affects the other. Such actions are not only based on trade and investment but also on matters of people and environment. I started to talk about my life and my work because few buyers understand my business’ principles and why they would be inclined to work with us. Most buyers are looking for cheap and fast services which is why I felt the need to find like-minded people who can work with us and who can be part of this change.

If there is no equality (gender, economic, environmental, etc.) then neither will people nor the society will feel fulfilled. Therefore, I have made a vision to eliminate this feeling of imbalance through LOCWOM Public Charity and Local Women’s Handicrafts, a clothing manufacturing company that uses a 100 year old loom. I don’t know how much change I can effect internationally but I know I have created a change in my society. These social businesses are changing not just the lives of women but the picture of the whole family and this is ending a major imbalance in our society.

The following is a snapshot of what we do that will hopefully encourage you and your corporation to follow suit:

  • We started the campaign Clean City because the people of Kathmandu valley are unknowingly inhaling fumes equivalent to the smoking of 10 cigarettes every day;
  • We provide menstruation wellness kits to poor school girls and women so they can feel comfortable and not miss school;
  • We started the project Donate Creative Backpack because 20% Nepali students do not have sufficient supplies to attend school;
  • Local Women’s Handicrafts follow the 10 principles of Fair Trade;
  • We have a biogas where we recycle all our leftovers into a cooking gas;
  • We train Earthquake victims and marginalized women with sustainable skills to make them independent. Since 2008, we have trained more than 100 women;
  • We also have a cooperative shop where we invite every buyer to connect with all the employees and it is mandatory that every buyer visits our factory and connects with each artist.

I believe in the business of empowerment. I believe in empowering the people to improve their own lives. We are creating opportunities to inform other factories about working under Fair Trade conditions is possible, that a living wage is possible, and that ethical trade is possible. This is why I ask for this call to action, laid out below, as it has the opportunity to ripple out into the world in an exponential capacity. This effect will challenge several facets of the existing global currency and trade system, but I promise you the rewards it will bring to the world will be far more valuable than a profit.

I am asking you to trade:

Corrupt production facilities FOR Working with disadvantaged producers
Environmental pollution FOR Agreements to protect the earth
Corporate greed FOR Safe working conditions
Child laborers FOR Equal workers’ rights for all men & women
Slave labor wages FOR Living wages
Questionable business ethics FOR Transparent agreements of mutual profits

Together as businesspeople, we can make the difference the world desperately needs. We can create and support human rights, human dignity, environmental protection, and eventually thriving societies that are self-sustainable. We have to increase the quality of the common citizen and even more so the quality of life of the poor. I know from personal experience that the people of the world’s poorer countries are looking for one single chance for a better life and if we bring healthy and quality systems they are the ones who are going to heal our planet.

Friends, the transformational shift is coming our way because we are finally waking up. You can be a part of it with me, or you can be held responsible for all the atrocities listed above that will continue to happen if you don’t change your company’s production. I encourage you to take the first step today, either by contributing to LOCWOM through our kickstarter fund, which will allow us the resources necessary to continue the work needed to spread our message as far and as wide as possible., or by beginning to create new corporate policies which take into consideration the well-being of those who are tasked working in your factories.

Will you answer this call to action by taking the steps necessary to ensure people, like myself, will never have to endure the hardship caused by ignoring Fair Trade practices? I hope your answer is yes.

In Solidarity,

Nasreen Sheikh, Founder & CEO of LOCWOM

#GivingTuesday – Help Us Make a Difference

If we all are one then she is part of us, a world problem is our problem, we can’t run from it. It is our shadow that we created and we are the one to fix it as well. We can fix it as soon we step up and have love, compassion, and the courage to upgrade this experience for all of us because we are together in this experience.

So the time is now: let’s do it, let’s take a responsibility to help humanity, help our planet and bring balance harmony to this beautiful experience.

I had this awakening when I was very young and that is why I started to build the learning center and that one center is like a healing temple where every year 100’s of women life gets changed and they operate from the much higher frequency which we call love knowledge and skills. Not only that the learning center is 100% sustainable 100% focused on sacred love. Last year we did Emergency Relief work in one small village when the floods hit the whole village and killed almost 200 people, we witnessed the villagers don’t even have access to clean drinking water the children’s which represents sacred love were so sick and in pain. We as a team first developed sacred love courage and compassion in our self to be able to give more to this community and thought to replicate our Learning center model in this village. This project is almost funded and needs little bit more support to make it sustainable. Will you be interested in being part of this Nobel work?

This Tuesday Facebook is partnering with PayPal to match up to $ 7 million in donations made on Facebook, starting at 8am EDT on 27 November – Giving Tuesday. The matching offer will expire when $7 million in donations is reached at 11:59 pm PT on November 27. Donations will be matched dollar for dollar on a first-come, first served basis. LOCWOM (Local Organization Comprised of Women Offering Mentorship) is a Non-profit Organization and is partnering with Local Women’s Handicrafts to build a Learning center in world most underserved community. LOCWOM is eligible for the Donation and we qualify to raise up to 250k. To match this donation, we need to raise 120k and each and every one of you can be part of this mission.

If you are on Facebook, you have likely seen Birthday Fundraisers that friends set up for a cause they care about. Did you know that Facebook does not charge any fees to the nonprofit? This means that 100% of the funds raised go straight to your designated nonprofit. If you want to start a Campaign for LOCWOM:

  • Go to this link https://www.facebook.com/fundraisers/
  • Select Non-profit
  • Than Type LOCWOM and it will Pop up
  • And then select the amount you want to raise for LOCWOM and after that shared with family and friends.
  • The campaign can run from Nov 26th to Dec 11th
  • This the example of a campaign that I have created.
    https://www.facebook.com/donate/743636919329810/2301033779968853/

I am asking this support because I can’t do this work alone, and I am inviting you to be part of it, please.

Open Letter to the CEO’s of Global Textile Corporations

My dear friends,

I am going to share with you an open letter addressed to the CEO’s of global textile corporations, written by a child survivor of undocumented and illegal sweatshops.

To the corporations and CEO’s holding the power to initiate global change.

It is my wish that the words I am sharing with you today become more than just words on paper. I am asking you to take action. This action has the opportunity to ripple out into the world with an exponential effect. This effect will challenge many matters of the existing global currency and trade system. But I promise you the rewards it will bring to the world will be far more valuable than profit.

As a child I know very little of the world around me, because of this I have become a victim of global consumerism.

  • Today 40.3 million men women children from every part of the globe are victims of slavery
  • 151.6 million children aged 5 to 17 are child labourers
  • Over one billion people live under 1$ dollar a day
  • 35% of all birth and 60% deaths go unrecorded

Sadly being an undocumented child put me at great risk to all of these things. I was born in a remote village where neither birth nor deaths records are kept, if you were to ask me
how old I am I couldn’t tell you honestly.

I can guess that I first became child labor between the age of 9 or 10. I worked for well known clothing corporations that used loosely regulated foreign manufacturing. In order to keep up with their demands for low cost fast production these factories setup illegal sweatshops in the inner cities using undocumented workers. 6 of us lived, worked and slept in a 10 by 10 room without a bathroom or clean water. We were forced to work 7 days a week for 10 to 12 hours a day, getting paid less than 2 a day. My only bed was the large pile of clothes I produced each day.

At night I fell asleep on these clothes and dreamt of where they were going to end up and who would wear them. If you are reading this and do not know who made your clothes you may be wearing my clothes right now.

There are millions of undocumented, men women and children suffering at the hands of corporate profits. In the sweatshops I have seen how chemicals and dyes are discarded into the water ways and drains illegally. We used to have beautiful river running throughout the city, They are almost dead now, because of industrial waste. Today industrial pollutants are the No.1 poison in Nepal’s Rivers. Nature has never known suffering like it has today at the hands of irresponsible and unaccountable
corporate manufacturing.

I do not blame you for stealing my child hood or polluting this planet. I know that in order to be accountable for one,we must be accountable for all. We must make a change in the way we produce and trade goods that ensures the rights of every human being and our environment. The principles of Fair Trade have the potential to heal mass suffering in the world, while also offering an abundant and thriving system of Global trade.

  • I am asking you to trade working with corrupt production facilities for working with disadvantage producers.
  • I am asking you to trade environmental pollution for agreements to protect the earth.
  • I am asking you to trade corporate profits for safe working conditions.
  • I am asking you to trade your forced and child labors for equal workers rights for all men and women.
  • I am asking you to trade slave labor wages for living wages.
  • I am asking you to trade shady business ethics for transparent agreements of mutual profits.

It’s up to us to change the world for all of us. It took so much courage, sacrifice, and magic to bring you this message. The little girl that wrote this letter is the women now and fighting against sweatshop, child labor, and forced marriage. Please join me in this effort.

Thank you
Nasreen

Making a Difference

Chanda is a girl from an undocumented village who doesn’t know her birthdate or her exact age. In her native Southern Nepal village girls births are not recorded in any official record. They are unacknowledged from the moment of her birth. If ones own birth does not matter then the conditions in which you lives, work, strive, suffer and die also do not matter.

We found Chanda when she was only 5 or 6 years old. Camilla Wolf has sponsored her for the last few years she has been with Local Women and is now going to a really good school. Today she gives all her love to everyone who visits our cooperative shop in Thamel.

Chanda’s destiny is changing and she’s becoming very impactful in her community as a young leader.

There are still millions of girls who aren’t able to go to school. Please help us save more girls www.locwom.org/donate-now/