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Relief for Nepal: Update July 2nd

Graduates of Lydia Vocational Training Centre take up the Challenge to Help Rebuild their Communities

Despite the disruption of classes caused by two earthquakes and countless aftershocks in Nepal this spring, graduation ceremonies for the 35th graduating class of students from the Lydia Vocational Training were held on June 14, 2015.

Relatives and friends of the 22 women who started as students at Lydia in February attended the graduation ceremonies to celebrate the completion of an intensive series of training courses—tailoring, Baking, Health, Music and various life and coping skills—made even more challenging by the tragedies resulting from the earthquakes. Several of the women lost their homes or had family members who were adversely affected by the disaster. When the earthquake hit in April, many participants returned to their home villages to help their relatives cope with the disaster and returned two weeks later to complete their training. Three of the women were unable to complete their courses because of family responsibilities arising from the earthquake.

One woman, Ms. Kabitha Sharki, had lost her home in the earthquake and had nowhere to live with her 9-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter. However, she was invited to attend the ceremonies where she was presented with a cheque for Rs 15,000 ($150US) so that she could build temporary shelter for herself and her children. During her thank-you remarks, Ms. Sharki explained the sacrifices she had made to gain admission to Lydia. None of her relatives supported her decision to attend the training program, so she had to sell a golden earring so that she could attend the school. She was particularly disheartened when the earthquake took away both her home and the opportunity to graduate from Lydia—a goal for which she had worked earnestly and sold one of her most precious possessions. She thanked everyone for their kindness and vowed to remain strong in her struggle.

Graduates of the program also shared their stories with the audience, explaining how their experience at Lydia had transformed their lives. They came expecting to be taught a very specific set of skills but emerged as empowered women with well-defined goals, a much broader perspective on the world and determination to find a meaningful place in it. Even the earthquake had helped them to find strength of character. Because of the two-week disruption of classes, the women attended classes for longer hours on school days and sacrificed their Saturdays, Sundays and other leisure time in order to complete their required coursework. For three weeks, they attended classes outdoors in tents because they feared for their safety inside the building.

These experiences, they said, were etched in their memories and would strengthen their resolve to succeed in the future.

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