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Her Farm Films Training women in media and visual arts Skills for jobs that lead to economic freedom

An idea born from the devastating earthquakes that took nearly 10,000 lives and destroyed over half-a-million homes. How to be prepared for a future disaster and engage, employ and mobilize women? We saw firsthand the confusion in 2015 over what relief was needed and where was it needed.

Since then, we've been building an information network that prepares for future events and hand-in-hand with that, trains women for skilled work in radio, film, photography, graphic design and other visual arts, which rapidly expanding areas of work in Nepal and one that affords women the opportunity to escape the predictable future of a life of hard, farm labor.

The disaster plan that uses trained women to help manage information in and out of the villages was conceived in 2015. The disaster preparedness center is 100% complete. The Community Correspondent component is ready to begin with skilled trainers already present and hundreds of women asking for work. What we do not have is a central place to meet the training needs.
Breakththroughs come as a result of shifting your commitment from the predictable future to a possible future

The predictable future for women in rural Nepal, where 80% of the population lives is hard labor, economic dependence and perhaps, and only perhaps, training for low-skill, marginal income jobs in stereotypical roles.

As one beneficiary of one of the countless “women’s programs” operating explained: “I never considered what I liked to do, I ‘chose’ this training in sewing, because it was the only option.” After a pause, she continued, “I suppose because, this is a fitting job, for girls.”

For the past 6 years, Her Farm and Her Farm Films have been preparing women to be community organizers and leaders and creating jobs for women in skilled professions such as FM radio announcer, wedding photographer, event filmmaker and live sound production.

We have 8 young women employed now in these areas and earning sustainable incomes from their skills. With a full, professional photography, film studio and women's owned and operated FM radio station, a talent pool of trained women, we are now ready to take this work to scale in the larger community and offer skill training in visual arts to a much larger community.

The film, photo and radio studio at Her Farm

Her Farm is a 100% woman owned and operated farm in rural Nepal. It's a women's empowerment center that has as its bedrock principles three ingredients necessary to truly empower women; land ownership, food security through agricultural activity and a livable wage income. More information on Her Farm, as distinguished from Her Farm Films can be found at www.HERFARMNEPAL.org

Her Farm Films has already trained several local women, in addition to our staff of eight, in photography, editing and journalism skills. We are 100% confident that local women can learn and in fact master these skills. In addition to work we offer them as community correspondents.

Nepal, as a deeply traditional South Asian country offers much work in wedding photography, wedding videography, filming and photographing the many local festivals and events as well as producing socially relevant short films that reach women.

With nearly 65% of the population having access to the internet via mobile phones and over 4 million social network users every day, the potential to create media by, and for women, and distribute that media is huge.

Training local women from the village in photography, editing and journalism

Short films by and for women. Recently two of our students, both young women who live in the village made a socially relevant short film about the life of a local woman. Their first ever effort in creating such a film is quite remarkable. Proving yet again the ability of rural women to create visual art.

What is needed to take this work to scale and reach hundreds of women is a centralized training facility. The studio at Her Farm is too far a distance from the commercial center and with no vehicles or transportation, women simply cannot easily reach Her Farm Films studio for training. In the large commercial hub called Mahadevbesi, we have land where a training facility will be accessible to all.

Mahadevbesi Visual Arts School of 21st Century Skills

Women owned and operated by Her Farm Films

We envision a structure with the approximate dimensions of 20 feet by 40 feet as adequate to begin operation from. The visual arts school will have computers for learning photo, film and sound editing as well as graphic arts, such as Adobe Illustrator.

The interior space will be built out with soundproofing features to enable video interviews to take place and will include a sound booth for podcast recordings as well as a microwave link that enables live broadcasts from the school to transmit to our FM station located at Her Farm Nepal.

There will also be a small outdoors performance space/classroom to facilitate drama performances, musical performances and group training

Construction

The building exterior will be made from a product called "earth bricks" which are a mix of sand, cement and soil that is highly compacted by machine then cured. This material and manner of construction are approved by the Government of Nepal for earthquake resistance. They are designed to be interlocking, eliminating the need for mortar such as used by traditional bricks. They are manufactured just a few kilometers away from the job site in the town of Dharke. For more information on this material and method see https://www.buildupnepal.com

The roof will be steel truss with metal roofing panels. Truss material will be assembled and welded (or bolted where necessary) on-site.

Interior finish will be a combination of finished plywood, drywall (plasterboard) and acoustical sound tiles. An insulated drop ceiling provides additional acoustic control as well as temperature regulation.

Countertop will be installed for computer workstations, a LCD 50inch screen with HDMI input will be used for a training screen in the classroom and a small sound system connected to it to ensure all can be heard. Several white boards will be placed around the room in strategic locations. Lighting will be recessed LED fixtures. Electrical outlets spaced 6 feet apart will provide plenty of outlet access for computers and camera chargers. A 6ft by 6ft fully soundproofed booth will be constructed for FM radio broadcasts and podcast recordings for our Soundcloud channel.

Because power in Nepal can be unreliable we will install a voltage regulator with capacity of 5kw and a battery back-up power system with capacity of 3kw. Together they will protect sensitive electrical equipment and supply virtually uninterrupted power to the classroom.

Internships

Program participants can gain practical, on the job experience through broadcasting via a link system on our FM transmitter at Her Farm and through assisting in the 40 or more assignments Her Farm Films has every year to film events, photograph weddings and provide live sound reinforcement for events.

With comprehensive training, practical experience in the field, women will be able to obtain employment that pays well. In a country with a per capita income of less than $1000/year, the women of Her Farm Films earn between $100 and $150 US dollars per day filming and between $150 and $200 US dollars per day providing live sound reinforcement.

Our FM radio station, though on the air for less than one month already has several paid advertisers and that aspect of income generation will expand, providing yet another opportunity for work by recording and producing commercials for local area businesses and selling radio advertising to local area businesses as well.

We can use some of the cameras, microphones and other tools that Her Farm Films already owns but will need some additional cameras and voice recorders for training. (Budget $6500)

Human Resources. Our existing team of educated and trained young women will be the instructors. Sushila Aryal, for example is thirty years old, with 5 years direct experience on air in radio, a Master Degree in Sociology and currently is pursuing a law degree as well. Sushila, in addition to her radio experience is a skilled editor with Final Cut and Logic Pro, an excellent portrait photographer and filmmaker. Our team of eight such women will manage the classroom.

From training to jobs

There are over 230 community based radio stations operating at this time in Nepal. As a member of the community radio network, we have access to the directors of all of these stations to promote employment of women we train.

As previously mentioned, wedding photography and videography is big business in this traditional South Asian culture and with our own FM radio station, we are in an ideal position to advertise the services of our program graduates for this kind of work.

There are dozens of community based events, festivals, singing contests and etc. that take place in the nearby villages providing opportunity for film, still photography and live sound reinforcement. The local cable TV station pays for these events to be filmed for broadcast on their channel.

The business community in Nepal is just waking up to internet and social media advertising and the demand for quality photography of all kinds; products, scenery, adventure activities and more is on the rise daily. Likewise, these same business users are hungry for video that helps sell their programs and products. Outside of the capital city, there are almost zero resources available for the business community to pull from.

Catchment area location and demographics

Mahadevbesi and surrounding villages

Accurate population records are impossible for the area. Located 25km from Kathmandu the area generally useful for this project begins at Naubise to the east and ends at Kumpur to the west as shown on the map. Naubise, Mahadevbesi, Dharke and Simle are the major commercial centers along the east-west highway with dozens of small villages dotting the hillsides.

On the above map, Dharke is approximately where the village of Tharkre is noted and Simle is perhaps 6km further west from Mahadevbesi. This is a busy corridor for imports and exports and these towns on the highways are important hubs for local business, schools, colleges and commerce. An educated guess puts the population nearby our chosen building site at nearly 50,000, perhaps higher. In 2015, the local government health post listed the population for Mahadevbesi proper at 3200. Simle, Dharke,Naubise and Thakre are probably similar in size and the hundreds of small villages on the hillsides comprises the rest of the local catchment area population. For Nepal, in general the gender balance is nearly 50/50 which indicates up to 25,000 women are in the direct area served by this project.

The financial support for Her Farm and Her Farm films has come from The Global Mountain Fund, a US 501c3 charitable organization founded by Scott MacLennan, who is the husband of Sunita Subedi Sharma, the founder and matriarch of Her Farm. Sunita was recently named the World Experiences Foundation's Global Citizen Award recipient and received as well a citation from the House of Representatives of the State of New Mexico. Learn more at www.MountainFund.org

Scott, with a long career in business can assist the graduates in preparing resumes and Sunita, as a former popular actor in Nepal will help prepare them for job interviews. Scott has lived and worked in Nepal for over a decade and was awarded the Sir Edmund Hillary Mountain Legacy Medal in 2010 for his work in Nepal.

What's it take to make this all happen?

First and foremost a space to train from. We have the land, we have the Human Resources, but no central facility to train and produce from. We estimate a fully finished facility from which hundreds can be trained to cost between $25-30,000 US dollars (not including computers and some additional cameras) It's a ripe and ready endeavor that will create clean, well-paid jobs and change the societal views about the capabilities of women.

Real training, real jobs, real independence

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