22 May 2011: After an overnight flight and a little nap, I’m back on track in Nepal and it feels great to be back. I haven’t been here in the field for over a year and a half and am so curious to see everybody again and hear the stories about how things have evolved. The first person I speak to is Sophie. We have stayed in touch via e-mail and according to her mails she is doing really well… and she really is. With a lot of pride she shows me all the magazines she has been working for, the fashion shows and beauty pageants which the Nepali people love so much. She is a sought after make up artist now and an inspiration to the others. As Nepal’s first transgender make up artist she is setting a new standard. Her story can only make you smile.
23 May 2011: I’m wandering around Thamel and looking around at all the amazing shops with local crafts and souvenirs, ranging from amazing antiques to the funniest hippy junk. Even with those things there seems to be a fashion. I am looking into taking things home to help fund our project. Infinite possibilities…. Handbags, scarves, blankets, statues, malas, … my brain is spinning.
24 May 2011: This morning I am meeting Sophie, Anjali, Rajesh, Joshma and Durgha. They are the ‘die hards’ that rise to the occasion to learn and study more. During the conversation it becomes clear that there are many internal discussions with members from the community. Some of them are not taking the trainings seriously, there is jealousy, problems because of language barriers, etc… There also seems to be a discussion whether the material I provided last time is for communal use or not. I left it for them to use as study or work material, but some are claiming it as their personal make up box. The lack of community sense, poverty, survival, etc. make it a real challenge. During the conversation I try to find out what they would like to learn and what would really benefit them… English is a high priority and they have an urge to improve their hairdressing skills. I couldn’t agree more. English proficiency will make communication easier with me and with their potential customers, and when it comes to hairdressing, they need a solid base which I cannot provide in the short time that I am here. So that’s a clear target to work towards. My mission this time will be to find schools for both these subjects.
25 May 2011: Today it’s ‘Bandha’, which is a general strike. People are protesting because there is still no constitution and they are trying to put pressure on the government. One of the consequences is that there is no transport today, so nothing can be done….
26 May 2011: I had a meeting with Alan from RTC English school and he is willing to take on a group of our transgender community to teach them English. Everybody will come in to take a test so their level can be determined.
- The most important thing was to get official certificates so they can apply for official jobs: We are well on the way since they signed up for English classes. The classes are multiple sessions of 6 weeks of tuition, with a Certificate after every series of classes. For hairdressing we also found a school which will provide a certificate recognized by the government. These are big steps forward, with the advantage that these trainings are local and will be followed up by local teachers.
- Make Up 2 Make Up became an official Non Profit Organization by Belgian Law.
- Getting people from the transgender community certified and ready for a career
- Setting standards and examples to others so they will be motivated to study and change their life situations as well
- Working towards opening their own business so they can support themselves, their community and the elderly
- Setting up an export trade with local products so we can keep the Nepal project funded