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Income generation training is a big industry in Nepal and sometimes the only people who benefit are the trainers. We need to think critically about what is available. Sometimes there are no jobs to be had at the end of training; sometimes there is an oversupply of people trained in one field; sometimes the level of training provided doesn’t really equip people to compete in the workforce; sometimes trainers and training providers are exploitative. We have to be vigilant. This is one reason why we shy away from big programs (even though numbers may look good) and try as much as possible for locally based, tailor made solutions.
A direct way of helping is to look at job creation. We are doing this in a few ways:
We employ two of the ladies who received Montessori training in our child care centre;
We are establishing a small beauty parlour in our middle shop where some of the ladies who have received Beauty Parlour training will work;
We have started a Helping Hand Catering Team. This is pretty pioneering in Nepal but people have been very encouraging and they have had their first job. We will report more on this soon (when we have photos!). Basically this is a group of ladies who all had training in cooking, especially in southern Indian cooking which is popular now. These ladies are hired for casual jobs-helping for weddings, funerals etc.
And we are in the process of purchasing a grinding machine (Kumari is shopping in the photo above) which will mean two ladies can be employed in a small business where people in the community will bring their grains and seeds to be ground. Training has been provided and we have decided on the machine. We need to renovate our cow shed which was damaged in the earth quake. It was damage that was not a problem for a cow but is now! We sold our cow. Not all our ideas work and a lonely cow created a lot of work! Cows are great sources of income generation for women in their homes.
We hope you have enjoyed this series of posts about some of the ladies who are changing their lives. There is a lot of sad news in the world at the moment and we thought it would be nice for people to hear some positive things too. As we always say though, this is not possible without the support of people who support us. If you have read this far, you are one of the people whose encouragement and love makes a huge difference. Dhanyabad.
We hope you are enjoying our short series of posts and finding them interesting. This is number 4 and we have one more after this.
Many years ago now, we helped start a small micro-finance cooperative. We provided rooms and staff and the support to help it get going. In the early days it was quite hard to get the required numbers and we struggled to get 30. Many people were unsure about us because many of us were divorced and whether we would be an enduring Cooperative. When we got our proper building, people knew we are here to stay and now we have grown to 700 members with 500 shareholders. Samunnat still provides a room in our building but the Cooperative pays for its staff and the Cooperative board (separate to Samunnat Nepal) makes decisions about loans. This Board includes women who have been supported by Samunnat Nepal. Until recently, only very small loans we possible as we are a poor community and help many people.
Recently the Samunnat Board decided to have revolving loans which means that they lend money to the Cooperative interest free so that the cooperative can make slightly bigger loans when they think this will be useful. One lady who benefitted from this is now managing a kirana basal (general shop) in one of the shops we built next to our building. She used the loan to stock the shop and establish herself in our community which is going because of lots of new building. She is very happy to be working in her job.
Often, the only two options available to girls living in poverty is early arranged marriage or unsafe and poorly paid labouring work and often, either of these options would make them very vulnerable. We see part of our role as PREVENTION and this story highlights that!
KS lived in a border community some 40km from our office. She was from a family of 7- a mother and 5 daughters with only one son. Of the girls, KS really wanted to study but her mother couldn’t afford to send her to school. She decided to leave home, get work asa labourer and pay for her education. Labouring work is often unsafe and puts young girls in very vulnerable situations. As Kopila writes: she is so brave girl she left her home and start to find the place where she can earn and study.
She watched the pink uniformed Samunnat ladies as they passed where she was labouring and after her work she asked our Durga in the tailoring office about Samunnat. Durga told her she must come to us for help and she did! We have organised her accommodation and she is now attending a government school where we don’t have to pay monthly fees but can spend extra money on coaching, uniform, study facilities and food. She now has admission in class 9.
KS is determined to get an education and has shown incredible courage to get this far. We can help prevent KS from becoming another statistic in Nepal’s record of women who have experienced violence. We are excited to see what happens next for KS.
In theory class is illegal in Nepal but in practice it exists very strongly. Samunnat Nepal works so hard to break down class barriers and to obtain rights for women whatever their class. Today we tell you about a really enterprising and courageous young lady who from the Dalit community. She is happy for us to share her story. Parbata was experiencing abuse and moved back to live with her mother. Soon after, she came to our office for help. Surprisingly, she has completed year 12 at school. This is a high achievement. Kopila writes: I asked her about her interest and she said she want to have training in Radio Journalism. So I talked with a Radio FM coordinator. He was very positive and called her in his FM station. He agreed to offer some training and Samunnat Nepal will provide her with a bicycle and some khaja (food) money.
Parbata wants to use her job to encourage and empower women and make programs to tell them their rights.
We thought over the next few days that we would share some really encouraging things that are happening. Samunnat exists to help women who are vulnerable and often the most powerful way we can help is to ensure they can be educated. Women who are educated are more likely to know their rights and are less likely to marry young. If they can read, they can learn and fight for justice if required.
You may recall us writing about Ekshan whose mum could not afford to pay her school fees while she was pursuing justice and compensation. Her school were saying she had to leave. Thanks to the Staedtler FIMO donation we were able to pay her fees so that she could continue schooling and sit her IRON GATE exams, the big exams that take place at the end of Class ten.
Ekshan studied really hard and passed very well. We were all so proud and happy. We decided to help Ekshan gain admission to college and now she has been accepted into one of our local colleges who are going to meet us half way with school fees.
Well done Ekshan and thank you to the staff at her College!