Fair Trade, Handicrafts, Design – “What are you working on in Nepal?”

I love Nepal.  I’m really having a great time here.  It’s so nice to come out of the prison that was life in Dhaka, and have some freedom – I feel like a bird released from my cage!  With a new country also comes new challenges, like lack of electricity, overcrowded transportation, and the constant cold!  I’m also starting a new job here, which is always a little bit stressful.  But thankfully everyone seems really nice so far!

People ask me all the time about where I’m working, or who I’m working for, in Nepal.  For most people, that’s a really simple question with an obvious answer.  For me, well… it’s a bit more complicated!  I’ve created a chart (below), that might help you understand my work better.


Who I work for at my job in Nepal.  The boxes in blue are the organizations that I report to in a variety of different ways (described below).  Click on the title of the organization to find out more about their work.

DFATD/GAC – DFATD (the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development) has now be been renamed GAC (Global Affairs Canada).  The government of Canada created the IYIP Program as a way for young people to gain international experience.  They are responsible for giving the funding for the program to Canadian partner organizations (who give it to the interns or pay associated expenses).  They also determine the eligibility (must be under 30, have a degree, etc.), and the partner organizations report back to them.

Humber International Development Institute – Humber is one of the partner organizations who applied this year to receive funding.  This year there are about 20 partners organizations, but they can change from year to year.  These orgs are responsible for making relationships with international partner NGOs (and working with these NGOs to create job descriptions), recruiting and training volunteers, and dealing with logistics (booking flights, helping with visas, providing insurance, etc.).  They are also the main Canadian contact for volunteers while on their placement.

CECI/WUSC – CECI is the Centre for International Studies and Cooperation.  WUSC is the World University Service of Canada.  They are both Canadian organizations that work in the development sector around the world.  They have joined their resources together to create the Uniterra program, as one of their many diverse initiatives.  CECI and Uniterra are housed in the same office building in Nepal, and we’re even planning to live in the CECI guest house (called the passage house – which is right next door to the CECI office) for our entire time here.  While in Bangladesh, this point in the hierarchy (and below) was filled by TARANGO.

Uniterra – Uniterra is a program that sends Canadian volunteers to work with partner NGOs all around the world.  Their aim is to recruit people from a variety of backgrounds, in order to build local capacity for those skills that NGOs may not have in developing countries.  They are currently recruiting for more than 100 volunteers in 15 different countries (if you’re looking for some international experience!).  Uniterra (and CECI) provided help with logistics before we arrived, training when we arrived in Nepal, and administrative support (reporting, transportation, booking vacation time, etc.) now that we’re working with other NGOs.  When Humber decided to pull all interns from Bangladesh (where we were working for Caritas and TARANGO), they contacted Uniterra to see if they had any places for us, given our backgrounds and skills in a variety of different areas, and Uniterra’s diverse set of partners.  

Fair Trade Group Nepal (FTG) – FTG is a secretariat – an umbrella organization that assists various Fair Trade groups in Nepal.  They help their 21 member organizations in a variety of ways (such as workshops, training, and advocacy) and help to bring them together to learn from other members and create partnerships.  I will be working for 2 of their members (Sana Hastakala and Get Paper Industries), and working with their design teams for about one month each.  I am also hoping to run a small workshop for the design teams of all 21 members (if possible) in March.  Rebecca and I were both placed with FTG (and she’ll actually be working at the FTG office in finance/accounting).

Sana Hastakala – “Sana” means small, “hasta” means hand, and “kala” means craft.  They create a variety of their own products, mostly from textiles (such as bedding, clothes, slippers).  They also have a retail shop that sells items made by other Nepali producers (such as paper products, sculptures, house wares, etc.).  I will start working there next week!

Get Paper Industries – This organization has over 300 producers, and creates a variety of products for companies all over the world, including packaging and bags for The Body Shop!  They produce gifts bags, boxes, packaging, notebooks, holiday decorations, and more.  Their production center does everything from making paper to dyeing it, from printing to silk screening, and from die cuts to assembly.  I’m extremely excited to learn about all of these different processes!  I’ll be starting there in about mid-February.


So, I hope that helps to explain some things.  I’ll be posting more information and pictures throughout my placement, but please let me know if you’re still confused or have any questions!


About Amanda

Hi, I’m Amanda! Originally from Ottawa, Canada, I am currently living with my partner (Steve) in Sucre, Bolivia for the next year. I work in the unique space between industrial design and international development – but what does that even mean? I’m passionate about working WITH marginalized communities in a way that utilizes design to improve the lives of different types of people around the world. I have worked, studied, traveled, and researched on every continent (except Antarctica), and most recently I lived in Ghana, Bangladesh and Nepal. I love exploring new cultures and learning more about myself along the way.
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