After almost 10 years of learning to navigate Nepalese politics, Allan Waldon's project to empower women has finally received official approval.
The Butcher and Nepal's project to manufacture sanitary products in Kathmandu has been approved by the Social Welfare Council of Nepal and production is underway.
For the retired Sydney butcher-turned Gloucester beef farmer, Allan's journey in Nepal started in 2006 with building schools. Soon his focus turned into a passion to help provide the young women and female teachers with some dignity after learning that during a menstruation cycle, they were essentially locked away.
Being shunned from society once a month meant that young girls missed out on 25 per cent of their education, which Allan wanted to change. In 2013, he started looking for ways to provide these simple essentials to Nepalese women living in remote and regional areas. It was no easy feat and took him until 2020 to be able to deliver around 100 Days for Girls packs.
Not only was it difficult to get all the official permissions to bring goods into Nepal, but any funds that Allan was able to secure for the cause was also subject to substantial government taxes.
Through his work building schools, Allan had befriended a Nepalese tourism business owner, Phem Khatry and together they started working on a plan to manufacture reusable and colourful Personal Hygiene Pad Packs.
About a year and a half ago, they applied to the Social Welfare Council of Nepal for project approval which came through recently.
According to Allan, the products are being made but distribution is limited at the moment due to the monsoon season - one of the worse the country has seen - and the COVID pandemic. He hopes to get more than 7500 packs distributed between Christmas and April.
"It's a huge effort for these times of struggle we all currently face," Allan said. "But it dramatically improves the lives of 1000s of young women and their female teachers."
The packs are due to reach 36 high schools in 24 towns including local women's groups. After a quick calculation, Allan has worked out that the 7500 packs equal three quarters of a million extra school days.
"Now that's a winner. That's about 14 cents a day to have a girl at school. One coffee here (at $5) has a girl at school for 35 days," Allan said.
The project isn't just about the packs, it's also about creating a sustainable future for the project, jobs and delivering health education to the women.
"They miss so much school," Allan said. "I'm just trying to give them the same opportunity as the boys. Trying to give them dignity and self worth."
They miss so much school. I'm just trying to give them the same opportunity as the boys. Trying to give them dignity and self worth.Allan Waldon
Allan hasn't gotten this far with the project on his own. He's pulled in favours from people who helped with the schools project and has accepted financial support from Moon Day Project run by Melanie Kreuzer out of Zurich.
"I got funding from wherever I could get it from," Allan smiled.
So far the project has raised around $100,000 and it'll happily accept more.
"Anyone who wants to help. That's terrific."
For more information or to contact Allan, visit The Butcher and Nepal Facebook page.