Rebecca Andrews was in Nepal taking a cooking class but what she learnt from her teacher would be an experience she would never forget.
Rebecca Andrews was in Nepal taking a cooking class but what she learnt from her teacher would be an experience she would never forget.

There's a shocking story behind this meal

"No, gentle. You have to pinch with your fingers, like this. Slow! You have no patience!"

She'd known me for 30 minutes and had me nailed: I am not patient, ever.

I was in Kathmandu on a G Adventures tour of Nepal, checking out one of their Planeterra projects (it won a United Nations World Tourism Award in 2016 for excellence and innovation) and as part of it, was taking a cooking class run by The Sisterhood of Survivors (SASANE).

Cooking with local ingredients. Picture: Rebecca Andrews
Cooking with local ingredients. Picture: Rebecca Andrews

For more than 12 years SASANE, a non-profit organisation, works to empower survivors of human trafficking in Nepal.

They upskill survivors to become paralegals, placing them at police stations where they can be the first-point of contact for other victimised women who are able to escape and report the crimes. These women are then given a place to stay where they're fed, cared for, and provided with counselling.

Providing them with skills for a tourism career - and to reduce their risk of being re-trafficked or abused again - they're taught basic English, accounting, hospitality, guiding and trekking. The survivors are reintegrated into society as valued and respected members of the community, boosting their confidence, self-worth and providing them with a future. How freakin incredible is that?!

My gentle teacher, who was thoroughly enjoying teasing me, had once been a slave. More than half my age, she had experienced the worst of humanity yet thanks to this program, was confidently directing a class of strangers with a huge smile on her face. I was in awe of her.

After pinching and folding dough - with more care this time - I finished my plate of momos - sweet dumplings native to Tibet, Bhutan and Nepal - and, as we waited for them to be cooked, enjoyed a lunch made by ladies from the Sisterhood.

A meal made with lots of tender love and care. Picture: Rebecca Andrews
A meal made with lots of tender love and care. Picture: Rebecca Andrews

Proud and open, these women were not victims, but resilient survivors, you could see it with every move they made. Inspiring and powerful, it was an honour to be in their presence.

*For 24-hour sexual violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636.
 

Originally published as Shock truth behind this meal


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