The only way we accomplish this is together.
Karuna Trust Partners with FAN
by Charley Mayhew
On April 25th, 2015 the Ghorka District of Nepal was at the epicenter of a disastrous earthquake that killed almost 9,000 people and injured just under 25,000, leaving entire villages razed to the ground. Dalit (“untouchables” in caste society) women and their children were a mong those most deeply affected. Already knowing discrimination and humiliation, in an instant they lost their homes and became even more vulnerable to infectious diseases, sexual harassment and human trafficking, with minimal access to relief and protection.

Disaster responders and international aides sprang into action to save lives. However, one British charitable foundation, the Karuna Trust (KT) , in partnership with Friends of ADWAN (FAN), provided funding to ADWAN that was not only life-saving but also life-altering. In 2016, ADWAN launched a livelihood pilot program for 144 Dalit and other marginalized women still affected by the earthquake. Trained in livelihood skills as well as agriculture and entrepreneurship, women emerged with market-oriented skills for economic empowerment. In addition, with workshops focusing on their civic and gender rights, w omen whose lives had been devastated emerged empowered to advocate for themselves and their children’s needs.

Inspired by the success of ADWAN's pilot program, this year Karuna Trust again partnered with FAN to fund a more ambitious four-year program, aimed at providing education to 600 women in Bharatpur and Ratnanagar, lower-tropical areas of the Chitwan District.  The four-year project "To provide life skills to Dalit and other marginalized women in order to improve their economic status through sustainable livelihood development” is now completing its first year.

We can't thank you enough for helping FAN launch this project! Your donations provided the funds to acquire farm tools, tractors, seeds, skilled instructors, technical equipment such as projectors and laptops; notebooks, pens, newsprints and certificates. Training is well underway in horticultural practices to grow sustainable crops- ginger, turmeric, chili, mushrooms, pineapple and cauliflower - farming and harvesting methods, seed germination, composting fertilizer, and creating organic pesticides. Concomitant training in writing business plans, fundamental economics, as well as trade and marketplace skills prepare participants to follow their crops to market. Upon program completion each participant is awarded a certificate, ratifying her successful graduation to a skilled businesswoman. (See photo above)

Your donations are also working to fund ADWAN’s core workshops offered to all its Women’s Groups – focused on gender, sex and reproduction rights, patriarchy, as well as discriminatory governmental policies and regulations. A specifically designed program on Gender Equality and Violence against Women offers more probing workshops on societal and domestic violence, constitutional access to prosecution, education rights, citizenship and property rights. Upon completing the workshops, the women report having gained crucial knowledge about their domestic and human rights, including consequences of polygamy, about child custody, and divorce. (See Sita Sunar's reflections below)

With three years remaining, Karuna Trust will provide matching funds $4 to $1
That's $60,000 per year to FAN's $15,000 per year!!!


Every penny counts - so much is accomplished with so little!

Donations can be mailed to Friends of ADWAN Nepal
126 Main St, PO Box 725, Watertown, MA 02471

" I did not use to notice and realize patriarchy, men or even senior women dominating over women in general. After I attended the training, it opened my eye. I was returning home after the second day training of Gender equality and Violence. It was about 5.50 P.M in the evening. I saw a woman who was pregnant with a big belly. She was carrying a small baby in her lap and a bag also. She was returning from a medical store. Her husband was also walking before her with his empty hand. The woman appeared as if she was in last month of her pregnancy stage. She seemed to be tired, very uncomfortable. On the other side, it seemed to her husband as if his wife was in normal condition. It was very much embarrassing to me. I felt, at that time, that patriarchy, socialization in the society has made men different and woman becomes victim of this system. Being a woman, she has to bear biological and social reproductive role. And man, being male, is always in advantage in this socialized world. Only by doing my independent activity with economic empowerment will I make real change." (Sita Sunar, Chitwan)
Global Fund for Women: Partnering with ADWAN

Exciting news ! ADWAN’s Board member Bindu Pariyar receives a grant of $10,000/year for 3 years to empower young women.
Bindu is one of only ten women leaders representing Asian NGOs selected by Global Fund for Women (GFW) to participate in a three-year training that will develop leadership, mentorship and movement building skills. Bindu gave ADWAN international visibility last March when she attended an invitation only Asian-Pacific People’s Forum in Bangkok and spoke at the UN Headquarters there on Inclusion of Dalit Women in Sustainable Development Goals. Like ADWAN, GFW supports consciousness raising efforts that empower Dalit and other marginalized women and girls to challenge the status quo and advocate for themselves and their children. 

The goal of this intensive project is for these 10 leaders to bring their newly acquired mentorship skills to 30 additional young and motivated women selected at the grass roots level in collaboration with local women, activists, and authorities in rural communities. This year Bindu selected 13 young women from Baglung district, a remote area in far western Nepal where services are spare due to the difficulty traveling. In turn, these mentored women will each mentor 10 more women within their communities and will lead the efforts to work on key issues they identify within their communities.

Through workshops, discussions and role-play about interacting with local political leaders on burning community issues, Bindu has witnessed the women’s growing consciousness about the archaic social constructs that have traditionally hindered their equality in local decision-making, as well as their growing confidence about options in challenging the status quo. They have already started campaigns against rape and abuse, working as watchdogs around gender based violence, violence related to excessive alcohol, and caste and gender discrimination.

Bindu's achievement creates an opportunity for ADWAN to build a wider network of awareness and empowerment, spreading exponentially to more remote, marginalized communities.

Congratulations, Bindu!!
Radha Kisan’s Story
One particularly resilient young woman moved Bindu to share her remarkable journey. When she was a child, Radha Kisan's father migrated to India for work and her mother left the family to marry another man. As the oldest of 4 children, it fell to her to take care of them. Though Father did return to the village after a few years, he took no responsibility for his children. Though still a teenager, Radha initiated a community meeting to address the family’s plight, prompting neighbors to help her bring her mother home. Though her parents were reunited, Radha became, and, at 27 years old, remains the head of the household. She managed to put herself through college and is the breadwinner, earning the basic expenses of the family in her small, local grocery.

She attributes the roots of her activism to a painful experience of caste discrimination. In 9th grade she stopped to admire a Persimmon tree planted in the front garden of a Brahmin family’s home near her school. The high caste family had once sold her a piece of fruit for 1 rupee. Radha planned to buy one and resell it in school for 2 rupees - her family depended on this kind of ingenuity for subsistence. As she approached a member of the family she saw beautiful orange flowers and spontaneously plucked some. The wife rushed at her, cursing derogatory, offensive reminders that Radha belonged to Dalit (untouchable) caste, who are not permitted to touch flowers - it would make them impure for the Hindu gods. Marched back to school, Radha was forced to apologize before the entire student body. It was this humiliation and punishment for being Dalit that emboldened her, despite her hurt, to work against the social constructs of racism. With Bindu's mentorship, she is becoming a rising feminist leader and an integral part of her community.
by Amanda Kilchrist
For as long as Dalits have been isolated from Nepali society because of caste discrimination, the Magar people, the largest minority among Nepal’s indigenous ethnic groups, has remained insular by choice. Thulo Gau, an isolated suburb in the Gorkha district, has been exclusively a Magar community for generations. Historically, the Magars have kept themselves shut off from the world by restricting contact with mainstream Nepalis, prohibiting inter-caste marriage, speaking only their indigenous language, maintaining strict adherence to their own traditions and passed down occupations. In the past, if children attended school at all it was a Magar school where only the Magar language was spoken. In spite of their self-enforced isolation both linguistically and physically, the Magars have nevertheless adhered rigidly to systemic discrimination; and, like the wider Nepali society, they have viewed Dalit as beneath them.

All the more remarkable that it was ADWAN, in 2007 still a young Dalit grassroots organization, that built a "bridge" to the Magar community, tearing down injustices and discrimination existing under the guise of custom and tradition. For 20 years ADWAN has broken down barriers through inter-caste Women’s Groups, village by village. This was ADWAN’s first venture into an entirely homogeneous population.

Since most Magars do not speak, read, or write in Nepali, even those women who might have sent their children to school were reluctant; nor did they have support from either government or non-government sources. In nearby Taklung, ADWAN had been working to empower rural women and conducting its own early “Child Education” classes since 2003.   A social activist visiting ADWAN’s program advocated bringing such classes to the Magar village. He facilitated a relationship between the Magar community and ADWAN’s Kamal Babu Pariyar (current Executive Director), who agreed to work on a volunteer basis to teach children in the village. One year later, in 2007, when ADWAN’s founder Bishnu Maya Pariyar received a large insurance settlement for a car accident in Boston, she used the lump sum to secure a class building and to hire a bilingual Magar teacher.

Ultimately, a formal ADWAN Child Education program was established in the Magar community in 2008. A drastic change was seen in the children who participated in the program. They are now thriving students and have continued studying through grade 12, scoring in the top ranks of the final exams. ADWAN’s work in bridging the Magar community with the larger Nepali community through education has created opportunity for the first generation of Magars to imagine a future without poverty. It is also a critical step in tearing down walls designed to discriminate against others.

The initial "bridge" to the Magar village was built out of educational opportunity for children. The mothers soon welcomed ADWAN to also create a Magar Women’s empowerment group. Remarkably, the women accepted instruction from Dalit women and now share food with a people they once deemed ‘impure’.

Their women’s group name in Magar is  “Aba ta Soni Lapha Ko” which means “Let’s Rise Friends”, a moving testament to the power of ADWAN’s women’s groups in breaking the cycle of discrimination.
Donate by check to Friends of ADWAN Nepal
126 Main St, PO Box 725, Watertown, MA 02471
Friends of Nepal: partnering with ADWAN’s Ambitious Girls Fund
ADWAN’s Ambitious Girls Fund (AGF) has been a bright spot for our FAN community, as we watched young girls grow into young women, advancing from Kindergarten to 10th grade, knowing that higher education would be available to aspiring students. Since 2006, ADWAN's children's programs have leveled the playing field, creating a pathway for poor and marginalized children to attend school, from Kindergarten to sitting for the School Leaving Certificate (SLC) exam at the end of 10th grade. The Blue Shirt Project offers a stipend to every child whose mother joins an ADWAN Women’s Group. In addition, the most needy children are recommended to ADWAN by each Women's Group to receive a higher level of financial support through the individual Sponsorship Program. But i t is beyond the families’ wildest imaginations to see their daughters seeking the higher education that could lead to college and careers. In the 1990s, grades 11 and 12 (comparable to an associate’s degree in U.S.) became required in order to matriculate in a college. However, since classes were offered only in private schools and colleges far from the remote villages, this opportunity was accessible only to children from wealthy families. But ADWAN’s AGF created a pathway for Dalit and other poor young women to enter the higher educational doors as equals.  Qualified students whose application is accepted receive partial funding, direction towards the college program that best matches their interests, as well as guidance to obtain college scholarships and part-time employment. ADWAN works closely with colleges to foster a supporting relationship with AGF students.

Early this year, Friends of Nepal gave AGF an enormous boost, partnering with ADWAN to fund the costs of 11th and 12th grades for 20 additional young women . Now entering its second year, each of the 20 young women is starting 11th or 12th grade. The costs associated with travel, clothing, room and board on top of enrollment and school supplies are gargantuan in the eyes of poor rural Dalit students. So every single success is celebrated as a VICTORY!
Laxmi Kapri: Shares Her Story.
Donate by check to Friends of ADWAN Nepal
126 Main St, PO Box 725, Watertown, MA 02471
Meet Unish Dhakal: ADWAN Sponsored Student
In April 2015, just as the new school year was starting, 8 year old Unish Dhakal was trapped under a collapsed building for two days in the devastating earthquake that claimed 9000 lives and left 25,000 injured.  When a soldier found him he was rushed to the hospital severely injured, with both legs crushed. Many hours of surgery were required to save his life and his legs.

By the time of the earthquake Unish had already known hardship due to abject poverty, trauma of witnessing his alcoholic father regularly beating his mother, and the ultimate abandonment by his father. School, which he was able to attend only with the kind support of his U.S. sponsor, through ADWAN’s Sponsorship Program, provided stability and refuge. But though he was a hardworking student and excelled academically, he had deep emotional wounds.  He and his mother had to move in with maternal grandparents to make ends meet after his father left, joining maternal aunt and uncle, who were already living in the house. The conflict that ensued in the household caused additional psychological and physical trauma – and then the earthquake hit.  

Unish had a long convalescence and rehabilitation before he was able to walk on his own. Returning to the abuse in his extended family household, he withdrew, no longer able to study or attend school.  Mother, illiterate herself and wanting more for her son, appealed to ADWAN to help her save Unish by sending him to a boarding school in Kathmandu (In Nepal, orphans and abused children are often sent to boarding schools). ADWAN is so happy to have been able to arrange a scholarship with the school; and, with additional financial support from his extremely generous sponsor, Unish, now 11 years old, is living in a student hostel in the care of two of his teachers.  Kamal Pariyar, ADWAN’s executive director, checks in with him regularly and finds him thriving and content, a smart and studious boy who can imagine a future studying to be a doctor!

If you would like information about sponsoring a child, please send an inquiry to

Unish writes his letter in English. He is one of only a few ADWAN sponsored children fortunate to live in a district that has an English medium government school, where English is taught from Kindergarten on.
Friends of ADWAN Nepal
2018-19 Members of the Board

Bishnu Maya Pariyar, Hon.PhD.- Founder

Joan Goldmann, M.S., LICSW - President

Deena Notowich B.A. Candidate Northeastern University - Secretary

Yaela Collins, M.S. Candidate Transnational Security NYU Center for Global Affairs

Sabrina Diaz, M.S. Candidate Transnational Security NYU Center for Global Affairs

William Fisher, PhD, Provost American School of Paris

Diana Fox, PhD, Prof. and Head Department of Anthropology Bridgewater State University

We are deeply indebted to our Bridgewater State University interns:

Amanda Kilchrist, Candidate for Masters in Applied Anthropology

Charley Mayhew, Candidate for Masters in Applied Anthropology

With ongoing gratitude to FAN’s advisors and volunteers:
Kevin Baird
Robert Corman
Laura Haughey
Florence Koplow
Carolyn Jacoby
Gary Simon
Pradeep Thapa
Tracy Ware

We bid farewell to our trusted Board Member, Thomas Thuene, who stepped down as Treasurer this Fall

We also send every good wish to Daryl Caggiano, FAN’s longtime Secretary and Communications Director, in what will certainly be a wonderful career.

FAN is deeply grateful to the following major partners:
Kevin Baird
Friends of Nepal
Florence Koplow
Global Fund for Women
Iain Murray
Karuna Trust
Tracy Ware

94% of FAN’s revenue goes towards ADWAN programming.
6% pays for ADWAN operating expenses
FAN’s operating expenses are negligible

As part of FAN’s commitment to limit our expenses, as well as to reduce paper consumption, the 2018 Newsletter is being emailed through Constant Contact

Donate online at .
 Or by check to Friends of ADWAN Nepal
126 Main Street, PO Box 725, Watertown, MA 02471