The Apothecary Shoppe, serving the public, students and graduates of the American College of Healthcare Sciences (ACHS), announced today that is has donated funds to dig four freshwater wells in Nepal.
The donation benefits Nepalese leasehold forestry groups, many of whom are women, who grow aromatic plants for essential oil distillation. The Shoppe’s ‘Oil into Water’ donation is part of its ongoing global education initiative, which donates 2 percent of all essential oil sales to support global sustainability education projects in botanical production for the essential oil industry.
Nepal, landlocked and located in the Himalayas of South Asia, has poor infrastructure and few tangible natural resources, which have stunted the nation’s growth and development. Much of the population remains in poverty, earning less than $1.25 per day, and Nepal’s workforce suffers from a severe shortage of skilled labor.
Water is a scarce resource in the Labandi region of Sarlahi, Nepal, where the freshwater wells are to be built. Digambar Prasad Chaudhary, program officer for the Asia Farmer-to-Farmer Program, Winrock International, estimates the well water will be sufficient to irrigate 14 hectares of land or approximately 34.60 acres.
The Apothecary Shoppe learned first-hand about the need of Nepalese essential oil forestry leasehold farmers when ACHS Founding President Dorene Petersen traveled to the region as a volunteer in 2016. Petersen, along with Robert Seidel, president of the Essential Oil Company, contributed 27 days of service on an international assignment for Winrock International’s U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Farmer-to-Farmer Program in Terai, the southern lowland area of Nepal.
While there, Petersen and Seidel worked with the host organization, Forest Environment Workers Union Nepal (FEWUN), to train local farmers and forest workers in the industry’s current best practices for essential oil processing, assessment and quality. Petersen focused on organic, sustainable production practices, as well as how to navigate the international aromatherapy essential oil market. She also worked with FEWUN to promote education about, and support for workers’ rights and promoted opportunities for women and youth in the natural health and wellness market with a focus on local natural resources. For her service, Petersen was awarded the President’s Volunteer Service Award, a national honor offered in recognition of volunteer service.
Further donations are planned, which will fund needs identified by the groups within the forestry leasehold programs, including 25 women’s groups such as the Jana Jyothi CFUG, Nandeshwar CFUG, Radha Krishna CFUG, Laxmi Leasehold CFUG, Shiva Parbati CFUG and the Shambala Herbal Processing company.
Donations will support initiatives like improving quality seed and propagation materials (specifically palmarosa seed, German chamomile seed and lemongrass slips); protective clothing to prevent injuries from scorpion and snake bites when hand-harvesting aromatic plant crops such as lemongrass; and further development of organic production and official certification of essential oil crops.
“Having the opportunity to work as a volunteer with the USAID, Winrock Farmer-to-Farmer program and the gracious Nepalese host organization FEWUN was an experience of a lifetime,” says Petersen. “I was extraordinarily lucky to meet a group of resilient women and men whose determination to increase their families’ standard of living and provide increased educational opportunities for their children while committing to sustainable environmental practices was life changing. Improving access to education while learning so much from them was an honor and the beginning of what I hope to be an enduring friendship.”
The Apothecary Shoppe’s donation initiative was conceived in January 2016 as a clear pathway to education about, and the promotion of ethical essential oil production. Two percent of all essential oil sales are donated to programs and initiatives like ‘Oil into Water’ that contribute to global organic and sustainability practices across the essential oil end-user/producer/farmer communities. Also, “global scholarships will provide the opportunity for students to study aromatherapy and permaculture and essential oil production, education for farmers seeking organic status, and training in sustainable farming and harvesting techniques, among other initiatives,” states the Apothecary Shoppe website.
 The World Bank. (2016, April 26). Nepal country brief: building a peaceful prosperous and just Nepal. Retrieved from http://www.worldbank.org/en/country/nepal/brief/nepal-country-results-brief
About American College of Healthcare Sciences : Founded in 1978, ACHS.edu is a Portland, Ore.-based, accredited college offering online, on-campus, and study abroad integrative health education. With undergraduate and graduate degrees, diplomas, certificates, and continuing education units in integrative health, ACHS makes holistic health and wellness education accessible to a diverse community, including healthcare professionals, military students, stay-at-home parents, and lifelong learners. Specializations include aromatherapy, herbal medicine, holistic nutrition, and wellness. ACHS is a Certified B Corporation® and was ranked five of 100 Best Green Workplaces in Oregon 2018 by Oregon Business magazine. ACHS is also accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC), which is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
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