MAHENDI was originally founded in 2006 as a non-profit to fund remote maternal health clinics and training in Nepal. The focus was drawn to the plight of one group particularly affected by the lack of healthcare: women.
Women in rural villages were fighting a losing battle against maternal death and disability resulting from childbirth. Rural health facilities were not functioning, or were severely under-functioning; Skilled Birth Attendants were scarce; critical pre-natal/post-natal counseling, emergency delivery, and management of complications were largely inaccessible. Women had to walk hours, or sometimes days, to access maternal health services; when emergencies arose, women, their families, and communities were not prepared.
With MAHENDI’s help, local health workers and community leaders were able to make lifesaving maternal health services accessible, safe and financially sustainable. Key programs included: training in healthcare administration, clinical skills development for nurses and midwives, safe motherhood education and corrective surgeries for women with reproductive disabilities.
As donations for the clinics became increasingly difficult to acquire, Advisory Board member, Tera Herman, suggested that they turn the beautiful MAHENDI symbol into a jewelry collection to supplement funding. Unfortunately, by the time the idea was ready to be implemented, it was too late. MAHENDI’s original founder, Robin, felt that the universe was trying to tell her something. With a heavy heart, she made the decision to close the non-profit in 2010.
Considering herself a social entrepreneur, Tera has dedicated a large part of her life enriching the lives of others by her personal commitment to change the world for the better. The need for global maternal health awareness and training was a constant thought. Having suffered through a difficult pregnancy followed by multiple miscarriages herself, she truly understood the blessing of quality healthcare.
Even after the initial intention of MAHENDI dissipated, Tera never stopped dreaming about the potential of the logo. She believed it could become a symbol of protection and envisioned it connecting women all over the globe to a common purpose. With the hope to someday create a full line of cause jewelry, she decided to trademark the symbol.
It wasn’t until her daughter, Mara, surprised her with a tattoo of the MAHENDI symbol that Tera’s dream finally took flight. Mara said, “Now, you must follow your dream. There is no turning back!” With this extra encouragement, Tera reached out to her partners to create a new era of MAHENDI.
Alone MAHENDI was merely a dream. Together, it became a reality.
Shortly after MAHENDI was founded, we were accepted as a member of The Ethical Fashion Forum. The United Nations discovered MAHENDI on that site and reached out to us about the possibilities of partnering with them for a new initiative called the Orange Label project to help raise awareness and funds for the UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women. At the same time, awareness regarding the safety of women became a global movement. As we became more educated we realized that women were most at risk from intimate partner violence, which increased dramatically when women are pregnant.
In November of 2018, the MAHENDI team made the decision to broaden our reach not only to maternal health causes, but to the safety and protection of all women and girls, now dedicating a portion of proceeds from ALL of our products to the UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women.
We believe safety is a universal human right, and
we are proud that MAHENDI can now be a symbol of protection for all!