Many people, planting the seeds of the future

On 25 April 2015, something truly terrifying happened. Unlike a million and one other catastrophes that have rocked the world this year, this was entirely unprovoked and unforgiving. The earthquake, recorded at a staggering 8.1, not only shook a country, but, shook an entire world.
Nowadays, we are desensitised and taught how to react when faced with all manner of atrocities. Every day, we wake up to tales of woe and a world filled with turmoil and uncertainty. Every night, we drift off to sleep and let the world worry about itself whilst we rest.
It seems that, the only disaster completely unnatural and overwhelming for us, is, a natural one.
The British approach to disaster is to roll up our sleeves and rally. We are superb at rallying. The thing that we British folk struggle with is, stepping back and looking at the big picture.
It is an excruciatingly slow process, rebuilding and healing country. Unlike the western worlds that we live in, there is no protocol or immediate evacuation and rescue, no A plan, let alone a B. The terrain is distorted and the people are lost.
I was in Nepal on the 26 April. Like many other travel and crisis folk, I was braced for the chaos. We could not have imagined the journey that lay ahead of us and a traumatised population…..
Fast forward, if you will, to morning paper today. What is the headline? How much has the world changed? There have been elections, wars and absurd happenings, we’ve even celebrated the legendary terrorist, Guy Fawkes, and his foiled plot to blow up the British Government.
For an atrociously uncelebrated web of project leaders, NGOs and volunteers on the ground Nepal, it could still be May. Whist the world kept turning and fellow humans perpetrated inhumane vengeance on a daily basis, the real work was starting.
Aside from practicalities such as aid, construction and structure, the greatest and least appreciated threads of Nepal are being weaved. Women are, in the wake of tragedy, slowly building the foundations that will, once Western support rolls out, support their country. There are few things as humbling as watching a group of heartbroken women look around at the ruins or their former lives and, somehow, see hope.
One of the leading lights on the path to Nepal’s future are People Tree. Based in Kathmandu, People Tree’s producer partner KTS employs 2,273 artisans, in 150 knitting circles, who produce beautiful hand knitted garments for the sustainable fashion pioneers. 95% of the knitters are women who work at home whilst healing and looking after their families.
It isn’t remotely glamourous and is a far cry from fashionistas and rock’n’roll, but, somehow, with making any commotion, this little idea is the picture of unstated chic. If I could pick an iconic woman who transcends rock’n’roll and sheer grit, Jo Wood, would mostly likely win hands down. It would be an excellent PR stunt to drop your token celeb in for a photo op then whisk them away, but, rumour has it, Jo rolled up her sleeves in the knitting circle and left her swanky digs to stay with a local family.
 
With very little fanfare, the former model also met with the ethical fashion brands Nepali partner, Kumbeshwar Technical School (KTS), to see the relief work since the earthquake and how Fair Trade improves livelihoods. Jo has teamed up with People Tree for an exceptionally inspired collection, one can only assume that, along with the garments, a little bit of Nepal’s past and future are sewn in there somewhere.
The Jo Wood with People Tree collection will be available for sale in February 2016 and September 2016 at
 
http://www.peopletree.co.uk. The video of the trip can be found at http://www.peopletree.co.uk/videos/jo-wood-in-
nepal-2015. Images are available here: https://www.hightail.com/download/bXBZNHAwMVhubHhqQTlVag
 

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