NAUSENI (pronounced now-se-ni) was founded in response to Nepal Earthquake 2015 with the mission to empower women in Nepal by providing skill development and income generating opportunities for Nepalese women, particularly those affected by the Earthquake.
NAUSENI’s founder has been involved in the relief and recovery efforts from the third day after the Earthquake, having fundraised and sent over 3 tonnes of tents and relief materials directly to Gorkha, the epicenter, within the first 14 days following the 7.8 magnitudes Earthquake. Many survivors, particularly women, have expressed their wishes to rebuild their lives and their homes with their “own two hands’, and do not expect any handouts.
We took the phrase “with our own two hands” quite literally and began exploring crafts that would connect well with Nepalese women and be relevant to domestic and global markets. Wool crafts came first on the list, as for centuries women in the Himalayas had been making rugs and coats from the wool of their sheep. While a majority of women are familiar with wool crafts, wool needle felting is still a novel technique, so we decided to introduce needle felting as a value added craft.
We organised a weeklong training on needle felting in Kathmandu in September 2016, with a designer and tutor invited from the UK. The training was open to interested women free of charge. We had expected about 15 participants, but more than 40 women turned up. We welcomed everyone and had to promptly restructure and extend the training period.
After the training, we continued working with a smaller group of women to further train them to be trainers and lead artisans. NAUSENI’s core team comprises female artisans in their twenties through to sixties from Gorkha and the Kathmandu Valley. Motivated, skilful and creative, after three months of training, without any instructions, the team collectively invented a new method that would speed up a part of the creation process. The result of their self-initiated collaborative efforts was increased efficiency and improved quality of crafts(wo)manship. We also collaborate with a network of women artisans in and around Kathmandu valley and connect with wool farmers in Gorkha.