May 2009 E-Newsletter

Two courageous sisters protest their arranged marriages 

Ranju and Manju are two sisters living in Nepal with their parents and three brothers. Their lives started out very traditionally – living in a poor family where their parents worked as farmers and wage laborers to put food on the table.  

The family’s poverty and the fact that education is viewed as more important for boys meant that the sisters’ brothers were allowed to go to school. Their parents managed to send their three sons to a local government school in their village, but because they were girls, they could not go. The girls stayed home and managed household chores, worked on the farm and looked upon as secondary family members, receiving little care in health, education and other basic, yet, necessary things. 

As is the custom among poor families in their area, when Ranju and Manju entered early adolescence, their parents began looking for husbands for them. It wasn’t until World Neighbors started a basic education program and a health fair in their village that the girls learned about the effects of early marriage.

They attended classes through World Neighbors and learned about community and reproductive health, including ideal marriage age. The sisters learned about the ill-effects of child marriage, having seen firsthand the hardships faced by a few girls married girls in their village. 

So, when the girls were 13 and 14 years of age and were told by their parents that matches had been found for them and wedding preparations were to begin, they were deeply troubled. They recalled the information they had learned from World Neighbors and they decided to do something about their impending marriages. 

Mrs. Usha Devi, the girls’ instructor at the educational classes, never hesitated to help them whenever they visited the center with issues and questions. So, when the girls came seeking Mrs. Devi’s help, she didn’t pause to think about it. The two sisters decided that, together, they would protest these arranged marriages their parents had provided, even though this was unheard of in their village. Mrs. Devi brought up the matter in her women’s saving and credit group meeting to seek the groups’ suggestion. The group decided that they, too, would fully support the girls’ decision in any way possible. 

Mrs. Devi and the group visited the girls’ house and attempted to persuade their parents not to marry off their daughters at such young ages. When the issue was raised in the family, the two sisters along with their elder brother explained their knowledge and justification against early marriage.  

After listening to the negative consequences of early marriage and about other options for the sisters, the girls’ parents finally agreed not only to halt the progress of the marriage plans, but to leave the decision about who and when to marry to their daughters. Today, Ranju and Manju continue to study at the school, as well as help their mother with household and farm work. The two sisters have set an example to other families in the village by protesting against adolescent marriage.



Fair trade = fair wages

Fair trade is not about charity. Instead, fair trade ensures artisans earn a fair and just wage for their handmade or homegrown products, which means they earn at least their country’s minimum wage. Since fair trade organizations work directly with the artisans, the number of middlemen is reduced. This can attribute to keeping costs down for the consumers and provide a higher return of profit to the producers.

World Neighbors is proud to strictly sell fair trade products in our local gift shop and at our international market WorldFest.  The products are sourced primarily from a network of fair trade importers who are members of the Fair Trade Federation, TransFair and other certification groups. We also purchase crafts directly from producer groups in many regions of the world. 

 World Fair Trade Day 09 May 09 salutes the people and organizations who have dedicated themselves to making Fair Trade what it is today. Support artisans by educating your family and friends about fair trade options and bringing fairly traded products into your life.






WOW! Journey to Nepal shared 

Sundra Flansburg, World Neighbors WOW! coordinator, recently returned from a Journeys trip to Nepal along with a group of committed Work of Women members. They visited World Neighbors programs and met firsthand the people whose lives have been transformed.

Click here to read Sundra’s blog on MySpace about this amazing journey or click here to view the photostream on Flickr. 

Want to learn more about WOW! memberships and events? Click here.






What is the WOW! (Work of Women) program at World Neighbors?

WOW! (Work of Women) is a membership organization at World Neighbors that is committed to improving women's lives in poor, rural villages throughout the world. By joining together in this work, our individual efforts are multiplied and truly create change. WOW! mobilizes members to support efforts that improve the lives of women and their families in the villages with which World Neighbors partners, doing this through member education and awareness raising, advocacy and involvement activities and financial donations from members. All membership fees and donations support the vital work of World Neighbors around the world.

Learn more about WOW! at