Sophie Maliphant is determined, passionate and an astonishing fundraiser for causes which many of us would baulk at. She tells Amber Beard all about her travels, Nepal, her book and how she’s helping to educate Nepalese women about periods.
“It started when I was travelling for a year in 2015 around Asia. I’d been away for about three months and crossed the border into Nepal in mid-April and then on the 25th there was a 7.9 Richter earthquake. I was in Pokhara which is another big city aside from Kathmandu which was fairly unaffected physically but the shake itself was huge still – the buildings are better built there so it was less affected. That was the catalyst for what I’ve been doing since – it changed our plans in terms of where we travelled to, we decided to leave Nepal and not spend the three months there that we’d planned to. But then, as I was leaving on an eight-hour bus journey to get back to the Indian border I wrote a little story about a small girl who was trapped in the quake. It’s a fictional tale – she finds a yeti underground which is the reason why the earth is quaking, and she has to persuade him to stop in order to save her country. Originally it was a kind of therapy for myself but then as I travelled but then I ended up having illustrations for all of the pages and then decided to do a kick-starter campaign.”
The campaign was successful, and Sophie raised £3075 to print the book which was called The Country That Shook. “I started on a blank canvas in terms of money so then I was able to say that for each book that I sold, every penny would go to Nepal. Via selling through independent bookshops and an online shop and being featured in newspapers and blogs Sophie raised £13,000 and joined with the Gurkha Welfare Trust who were helping to rebuild whole communities. “I paid to rebuild a school through them which was finished in 2017 and I was lucky enough to go back in April to see the school and be a part of the opening ceremony which was super cute and was incredible to see. I knew that going back would spark new ideas and to see how I could help more and in what capacity. Then I found out about a project which creates menstruation kits for women in rural areas and I have raised just over £2300.”
Sophie has since left the UK to distribute 200 kits to women in rural Nepal – to a specific village she visited on her last trip. The kits are reusable with the idea being that as the women are literally living in the middle of nowhere that there is no infrastructure for rubbish, so they contain no plastic. There are two base sections of a sanitary towel with wings that go underneath, and which is waterproof. Then there are ten inserts that slide into slots in the base section which are washable and also knickers. Many Nepalese women don’t possess knickers as they wear saris and don’t need to wear them. A friend of Sophie’s distributes the kits and educates the women as to how to use them. There is also a washing line and soap included and the kits are contained in a small bag and are very discreet. “I’m really excited and interested to see the reactions of the women as I don’t know how the kits will be received. From what I’ve heard some women see the kits as a new lease of life almost, to be more independent, more empowered, not have to segregate themselves at that time of the month.” The kits themselves are made in Kathmandu with the idea being that the money stays local – the charity is Education for Life Nepal and they are set up mainly to provide literature for schools and this menstruation kit initiative is a small side line to what they mainly do.
An amazing amount to have raised for what, for some, is a subject to be shied away from. If you could spare a little to help a lot, then you’ll also be helping to remove the period stigma. Period.
To donate to the menstruation kits project: CLICK HERE
You can read about The Country That Shook and Sophie’s other projects at: HERE
Words: Amber Beard
Pictures: Sophie Maliphant