The Trust works with women from the mountain area, Sankhuwasabha in East Nepal (see map), who live partly from subsistence farming but have to earn supplementary income to be able to survive in this beautiful but harsh environment. Nettle, the one precious raw material available to them is providing this income.
This giant nettle (Girardinia diversifolia), locally known as Allo, occurs naturally in forests at altitudes above 1500 metres. The plant seeds freely and young shoots sprout annually from the roots. Allo helps to stabilise the soil, an important factor in these fragile mountain areas. The inner bark of the stem yields fine strong fibres which are among the longest in the plant world. For centuries the Rai people have extracted these fibres by boiling and beating the bark of the stems then spinning them to weave sacks, bags, straps and jackets or to knot fishing nets for use in their homes or to barter trade.
Now they earn much needed supplementary income by expanding their nettle product range for a wider market.
Activities funded by the Trust are workshops for the knitters and weavers to improve their skills and to introduce new designs, weaving tools and floor looms. These have been led by experienced weavers and textile designers from the UK.
The Trust also sponsored workshops where the newly trained Nepalese weavers pass on their skills to weavers living in even more remote areas in the hills around Sankhuwasabha so that eventually all the weavers in the outlying villages will benefit.
The Trust also funds lessons in English and IT skills for the Nepalese co-coordinators of the project to help with marketing overseas.
This website (currently under construction) will help with this and the Trust will buy any necessary computer equipment needed which will be housed in the project's Weaving Centre.
The Weaving Centre is in need of modernisation and expansion - another of the Trust's objectives.
The Trust publishes "The Nettle in Nepal" by Susi Dunsmore, which gives full details about harvesting, processing, spinning, knitting and weaving Allo products.
56 pages in colour.
£7.20 including UK postage.
Available from :
The John Dunsmore Nepalese Trust
13 Eliot Place
Proceeds from the sale of the book and other donations will support weavers and knitters in Nepal.
The long term aim of the Trust is to continue the work of John Dunsmore who suggested that within the framework of an integrated rural development project in Nepal, weaving and knitting are sustainable forms of income generation for some of the poorest people in the world.