The info session happened according to plan. The Lalitpur Office helped us invite 40 women from amongst the thousands of women volunteers in the area that worked with them, and Aneeva from OUCRU-NP helped me order some snacks for all participants.
Saturday is a day off but Mr. Ashok and a technician from the Municipal office came to help us set up. They were extremely helpful and let us use a spacious meeting room on the roof, equipped with projector and screen.
The day was overcast and it was drizzling slightly. By 2pm, the announced starting time, only two women showed up. We were a slight bit nervous but started joking about how 'Nepali time' was different from official time. We got tea delivered to keep everyone warm. By the time tea arrived more women showed up, so we ordered more tea. Then more women came, so we had more tea. The room was starting to look cozier as people filled in.
Finally at 2:30 I started my presentation. There were 24 women representatives in the room, several staffs from the Municipal, and Sian, Amit, Niva and Aishana from OUCRU-NP, and Mahima, one of the artists who will be leading the workshops.
At one point I mentioned the fact that lots of people drink straight from the hitis and never get sick and asked everyone "Why do you think?" The immediate outpour of opinions took me by surprise. These women were very active and eager to express their thoughts. Some people mentioned that there were filters in the spouts, others said it was because they had grown up drinking the water and thus was immune to it.
Thanks to Niva's fantastic translation I could see nods as I went through the slides and gave examples, drawn from 'Dekha Undekha' and JWDC, of how they could express themselves and tell their stories through arts.
By the end of the talk we had to pick participants for the 12 spots in the workshop and drew a lottery for those interested. By the time the selection process was over every woman in the room was interested in participating and asked if they could take turn going to the workshops so that everyone would have a chance. Mahima proposed alternating schedules and everyone agreed. So in the end, instead of having 12 participants attending the workshop once a week, we now have 24 participants, each attending twice a month.
As people were leaving, two women came up to me and said "We liked the presentation. We also want to express ourselves."