Working with Michelle and IWEN Canada

I have had the privilege and honour of working with one of the most dedicated and hard-working volunteers I have ever met. Michelle Bonneau, a hard-nosed Canadian from Kelowna, BC has been working in Nepal for over 3 years now as a social counseling volunteer with VSO Nepal’s HIV/AIDS programme and as the heart and soul of IWEN Canada’s (Inter-cultural Women’s Education Network) indentured girls programme (

When Michelle should be sleeping, she is working. When she should be resting or taking it easy, she is working even harder. When she should be eating, well c’mon now, she is no doubt eating AND working at the same time.

The video

Michelle recruited me (more like strong-armed me with her Canadian charm) to help build a slide show of photos about IWEN’s indentured girls programme in the Dang district of Nepal. She needed it to show at IWEN Canada’s AGM in October.

I said “suuurrrre, why not?!?” as creating a simple slide show wouldn’t take too long to do. Not aware of what I was getting myself into, I also mentioned, “so it’s too bad we don’t have enough time to get some video footage because it would be neat to do instead a video/photo slideshow mixed in with music and interviews, etc.”.

Sure enough, Michelle made it happen. I miraculously got some footage (that needed to be converted) along with pages of translated text for subtitles (that needed to be painstakingly sync’d), and the whip of Michelle’s need for perfection (ouch) driving me into the wee hours of the night in order to get this video presentation done (in less than a week).

It was definitely worth it in the end.

The video is generous length of 21 minutes and there was so much more footage, photos, and stories that had to be left out (and no, there are no plans to make the extended DVD version). I had to choose only a handful of portraits from hundreds, images of girls recently sponsored by IWEN Canada (I personally just wanted to use them all).

While working on the video, I found it almost impossible to not be affected by the some of the girl’s personal accounts of not having the opportunity to know how to read or write, to not have freedom to go out or to have friends, to not know how to properly clean themselves, or to even not know their real names or when their real birth days are.

It was heart breaking to hear and watch.

(And for me to think, I walk down the street everyday and see potentially see underprivileged children, sometimes I not even noticing or thinking twice about what some of them are going through.)

I can see why Michelle works so very hard and why people like her possess the will and unwavering determination to keep on going, doing what they do.

Anyhow, without further ado, here is the video…it was my pleasure Michelle.

IWEN Canada – Indentured Girls Programme from Rex on Vimeo.

IWEN Canada – Indentured Girls Programme is a program that rescues bonded girls from slavery and gives them a new meaning in life through education in Nepal.


One comment on “Working with Michelle and IWEN Canada”
  1. Rex says:

    A another related video about empowering girls…