Danma NIU

Social entrepreneur

About This Project

I grew up on the edge of the Himalayan Plateau to a yak herding nomadic family. When I was a child, my only future seemed to be bearing children, herding livestock, fetching water and collecting wood for fuel. I observed the gender inequality in my community, where women took on the most menial and difficult tasks.

 

By pursuing further education at Qinghai Normal University’s English training program, and implementing several development projects, I showed my community with actions something that words could not, that educating women is worthwhile.

 

I demonstrated to myself that I could be a leader and that my community would listen. When I was 19, I brought running water to my hometown for the first time.

 

After this success, I kept pushing myself and growing. I was able to study a Bachelor of Public Communications (Social Inquiry) at the University of Technology Sydney and complete a Masters of Social Work at the University of Sydney.

 

This was the first journey I made from the mountains to the sea. I dipped my toes in the Pacific Ocean for the first time. I thought I was sinking when I walked on sand.

 

I had an opportunity to stay with an Australian couple on a farm in the Blue Mountains when I first arrived in Australia. We used to pick fruits from trees and drive cattle to water. I had become an Australian herder!

 

My five years of study and work experience in Australia really helped to equip me with skills and knowledge to help my community.

 

In 2016, I returned to my hometown and established a social enterprise called Yakma (www.yakmybody.com), which aims to empower village women by employing them to make 100% yak milk soap. We realised our traditional herding lifestyle and natural yak milk fit well with the modern concept of organic products. The danger is we often forget about what resources are available around us. We were grateful to have support from many Australians who travelled to the village to offer support and open up a market for us to sell soaps in Australia.

 

Danma Niu is Founder of Yakma Body Care, Dechen Village, Zhuaxixiulong, Bairi Tibetan Autonomous County, Gansu Province.

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