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The Masala Project

The Masala Project

The Masala Project NEPAL Earthquake Relief Fund

We are currently gathering funds to send to several trusted organizations that are dealing with the aftermath of the earthquake in Nepal. All of these organizations are directly related to the documentary films Chelo Alvarez-Stehle has worked on in Nepal: Tin Girls and Sands of Silence:

HimRights is distributing food, tarps, and blankets and working to provide those in real need and who cannot have any access to relief with housing which will last for about 1-2 years hopefully by which time they will be able to do something about their own housing.

MaitiNepal is giving shelter and food to over 200 women and children that have lost their homes.

Shakti Milan Samaj, a cooperative of HIV Survivors is working to provide mental health through art therapy and providing other relief to vulnerable women that have lost all they had.

Shakti Samuha, a cooperative of Sex Trafficking Survivors is starting a Safe Space for lactating and pregnant women in Shindhupalchowk, one of the most affected areas.

Your tax-deductible donation goes to help their much needed efforts.


Every year, thousands of teenage girls from the hills of the Himalayas are sold, kidnapped, or lured into India’s large urban centers. Most end up enslaved in brothels.

Shot in 2002, TIN GIRLS (Canal+, 2003) is a documentary feature about sex trafficking between Nepal and India, based on one of Chelo Alvarez-Stehle's magazine features. Some of the survivors, after managing to escape and return to their villages following years of forced prostitution, faced an even harsher reality: No one would hire these “Bombay girls”—as the villagers derogatorily called the young women—, often deeply sick and psychologically traumatized. Towards the end of production, some of the women approached the production team for support. Touched by their plight, the filmmakers helped them make their dream a reality.

In March 2003, a spice-grinding machine was bought and a small workshop to grind, package, and sell spices was set up. Soon, over twenty trafficking survivors in Nepal’s southern region of Makwanpur came knocking on the door asking for a job.

In order to reach those survivors living in the hilly areas (a one-day walking distance through goat trails), HimRights, the NGO that runs the project locally, suggested we establish an Animal Farm project. Each woman was given a pig and materials to build a shed, with the purpose of raising the pig and selling the piglets at the market.

Unfortunately, Deepa, one of the survivors interviewed for TIN GIRLS, was not able to participate in the project. She succumbed to AIDS in January 2003, a few weeks after we first discussed the Masala Project.

Nepal’s political instability rendered the Masala Project inoperative in 2007. However, with the political landscape back in balance in 2009, the project—funded by individual donors like you—is now being revived.

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