In 2006-07, Asha Nepal ran the successful My World, My View photography project with disadvantaged girls from Pokhara. Photography has proved a valuable tool for encouraging self-expression and building self-esteem. The nine-month project was set up and led by photojournalist and trustee Sue Carpenter, to help such girls in Nepal to find their voice and develop the confidence to use it.
The 22 participants, aged 6 to 17, lived in the care of SOS (Save our Sisters) Bahini, an organisation in Pokhara that provides family homes to girls who were abused, neglected, abandoned, homeless, orphaned or in other desperate situations. They were given cameras (both conventional and digital) and photography tuition and encouraged to document their world through their own eyes.
Their work proved so engaging and vibrant that, after exhibiting their work in Kathmandu, the British Council in Nepal funded a book of their photographs and testimonies, My World, My View. This has been an important outcome for the girls, to validate their talents and give them a forum to address some of the issues facing females in Nepal – gender discrimination, violence, abuse, child labour.
Most significantly, it has given them a means of earning their own income. Profits from sales of the book and photos have created a fund of approximately £12,000 to support the 22 participants when they leave SOS Bahini. The fund can be used for further education, to set up a small business, or to set up their first home and support their independence.