Unako is an initiative of IWEN
WHAT IS IWEN ?
IWEN is a not-for-profit organization registered in Canada and managed by a volunteer board of directors. Since 2005, IWEN raises funds to support marginalized girls and women in rural Nepal through outreach programs, scholarships, literacy courses, classroom building and coaching sessions .
The adventure began in the year 2000 with a trip around the world. At 53, Michelle Bonneau left with a backpack to discover the world and its cultures. Her one-year journey eventually led her to Nepal where she was able to see, through the links developed with the community, the gaps in education for women in this country, especially in rural areas. Back in Canada, Michelle kept thinking about Nepal and how she could get involved with these women. Five years later she sold her condo on Okanagan Lake, left her job as head of the Kelowna Family Center and moved to Katmandu to become a full-time volunteer. With the help of friends and family, IWEN was born with the goal of giving these women opportunities for self-
THE UNAKO PROJECT
Since its inception, IWEN has used scarves as a means of financing. Originally, they came from a shop in the Nepalese capital, but in 2012 IWEN bought the necessary equipment and formed a group of Tharu mothers to make and supply the scarves. Their creations bear the name Unako which means « her » in Nepalese. These mothers of Tharu family whose meager income formerly depended on agricultural work now manage a small sewing workshop. They proudly call themselves « Unako ladies ». Not only did they obtain financial independence, but also a sense of dignity that they did not believe was possible.
TheUnako project forges links between « Unako ladies » and all those who wear their scarves. Imagine: a woman in Canada or the rest of the world wearing aUnako headscarf is actually tied to another woman in a rural area in western Nepal who survives in spite of cruel poverty. Together, we create a sustainable future for those women who now believe in themselves and have hope for their children’s lives. This is the power of aUnako scarf. Wear it proudly, because the impact is enormous.