Tewa celebrates 25 years of advancing womens’ rights and building local philanthropy in Nepal
“Standing at the top of a hill facing the mountains, founder Rita Thapa took a deep breath and said, ‘I get good vibes here, let’s buy this property to build our Tewa here.’ I looked, took a deep breath and looked again, but all I could see was a rolling hill. I could not even imagine how we could build anything here. But I quickly learnt in Tewa that if you put your mind to it and if the cause is right, then nothing is impossible. The Deep Yogini, our residential facility, is proof of this.”
This story, recounted by Meera Jyoti, President of Tewa from 1998 to 2003, begins to touch on some of the magic of Tewa – which anyone who has visited the Tewa Centre in the hills outside Kathmandu can attest to – and speaks to what can be achieved when you have a big vision and stick to it. It is one of many anecdotes from Tewa staff, board, grantee partners and volunteers that make up Tewa’s new publication and video marking its 25th anniversary. These personal reflections – offered by those who have nurtured Tewa in the past as well as those who are leading it into the future – begin to convey what the institution means to those who have been a part of its story.
Contributors to the anniversary materials speak warmly about Tewa using terms like “sisterhood”, “family” and “community” and express gratitude for the feminist leadership that Tewa has provided. Whether it is described as a women’s fund, peace-builder, earthquake responder or community philanthropy organization, it is clear that Tewa has left a profound impact on those that it has touched. Solidarity across the Tewa family is evident, as is deep appreciation and thanks to Rita Thapa for her bold vision and persistence. This all began in her living room 25 years ago, after all (read Rita’s founder story here).
The Tewa story would not be complete without a sense of the impressive work that has been carried out in this time, and the anniversary materials provide facts and figures in this regard. Meera Arjyal, President of Tewa from 2003 to 2005, adds that Tewa’s accomplishments are all the more significant because they have been achieved “in an environment rife with suspicion and hopelessness.” Some highlights include:
- Tewa has disbursed 56,620,637 NPR (more than $478,000 USD) in 701 grants, supporting the most underprivileged and vulnerable Nepali women.
- From the outset, Tewa considered the act of giving as both an assertion of humanity and an expression of power, and set itself the goal of raising local funds to support its grantmaking – rather than being solely a distributor of foreign cash. Tewa has raised 42,774,537 NPR (more than $360,000 USD) from 7,945 local individuals and 571 institutional Nepali donors. A video about their local fundraising is included below.
- Tewa has mentored and trained 825 volunteers, who mobilized 3,191,979 NPR (approximately $27,000 USD) during their mentorship periods.
- Deep Yogini has hosted events for 400 different international and national organizations.