Meet Nepal's newest donors
These six women – (from left to right and by row) Bhawati, Kumala, Shree Maya, Prema, Rama and Yoshada – are all donors to Tewa, the Nepal women’s fund. They recently gathered at the Tewa Centre in Kathmandu, to talk to Tewa staff and Jenny Hodgson from the GFCF about why they give. Yoshoda, who has been a Tewa volunteer since 2013, described how she had cut some of her own personal expenses so that she could give back to Tewa and encouraged other women to see if they could raise small contributions from their friends and relatives. “If we can support women,” she said, “they can change society.” Shree Maya is one of the few women to have left her village, which was badly affected by the 2015 earthquake. “If we can all give a little, we can create something big”, she noted. The women agreed that their decision to give back was because they saw the value of Tewa’s work, that everyone has the ability to give – no matter how little – and that Tewa’s transparency in managing donations reassured them that the money would go to good use.
Tewa is a community philanthropy organization that has walked its talk, embracing the values of local ownership and local agency in the way it does its work. Tewa has built up an impressive network of over 3,000 individual Nepali donors - “ordinary” people - whose combined contributions have formed the backbone of Tewa’s small grants to women’s groups and organizations across the country for almost twenty years. This is so significant because it reinforces the importance of local participation in development and highlights that there are resources available in even the poorest contexts.
In the same manner, community organizations that have received grants from Tewa are often encouraged to “give back” to the organization (no matter how small their contribution) as a way of flattening power dynamics that often prevail between “donor” and “recipient”, and fostering a sense of shared and equal ownership of the organization.
While much of Nepal was still reeling from the devastating earthquakes that hit the country in April and May 2015, Tewa was quick to launch into action, advocating that local needs and voices be taken into consideration, and that grassroots groups be part of efforts to rebuild, strengthen, and expand sustainable development in Nepal's rural areas. With its sister organization Nagarik Aawaz, within the 60 days following the first earthquake Tewa disbursed over $500,000 USD to 112 communities in 15 districts. In doing this, some 23,000 households were reached and some 7,000 postnatal/pregnant women, elderly individuals and children were supported directly.
In addition, post-earthquake Tewa reached out to all of its 40 existing grantees. Noteworthy from these contacts is the amount of $2051 USD that was gifted back to Tewa’s Earthquake Relief Fund by the affected communities who had received immediate support. Even in the direst of situations, imagine the pride of Tewa staff as they encountered Nepal’s newest donors!