Sarah's passion for Nepal and its people started with her first visit in 1979 and grew with her years as a trekking guide in the 1980s, travelling all over Nepal with wonderful support teams, visiting villages, homes, schools, hospital and many projects. After a career back in Australia teaching adults who experience barriers to learning: migrants, refugees, Indigenous Australians and women seeking access to the workforce, Sarah was drawn back to Nepal with the hope of using her skills there.
She gained valuable experience with an Australia not for profit leading groups of Australian students assisting girls in homework centres and children's homes .This led her to focus on the education and empowerment of girls and women and family care.
She discovered with Fiona and Leonie, who she'd worked alongside in Nepal, she shared a vision and together they set up PDA.
Sarah runs Textile Treasures, a small business, which supports and encourages the artistic heritage of India and Nepal. It provides a market and income and opportunity for marginalised women.
Leonie is a mother of three boys and a professional photographer. In addition to her photography she is as a Communications Officer for a not-for-profit organisation in Australia that works with young people.
As a photographer Leonie wanted to use her craft to “give back” and was always interested in working abroad, particularly with a cause that championed the rights of women. It was a chance conversation with Fiona Toll that lead to her amazing journey to Nepal six years ago and the formulation of Project Didi Australia with Fiona and Sarah.
From the very first time Leonie went to Nepal she fell in love with the country, it’s people and culture, and is extremely grateful to be working alongside Fiona and Sarah to try and make positive changes for the young women affected by trafficking.
In Nepal Leonie runs photography workshops (with Asha Nepal) for young girls that are survivors of trafficking. The workshops aim to give the girls a means of expressing and empowering themselves in a creative, nurturing environment. Leonie’s son Jack recently travelled to Nepal with her and ran a dance workshop for the young people at Asha Nepal. There is still much work to be done in Nepal but Leonie believes that we all have the ability to make positive changes with small gestures.
“I think sometimes people feel overwhelmed at the enormity of the problems in Nepal – it’s estimated 12,000 girls are trafficked there each year. We can all help make positive change – we just have to do SOMETHING – one girl at time.”