The other morning, before it was really light, two men arrived on Kopila’s doorstep. One of them was concerned about his daughter-in-law who was being kept locked in a room in a tragic family situation. Her husband was working “outside” in Saudi like many Nepalis. She had managed to ring this man (her father-in-law) from her cell in Kathmandu and he had come to Kopila in desperation. There was much discussion and many phone calls and finally Kopila spoke to someone in a Women’s Rights organization in Kathmandu who was going to organize her release and ask the police to arrest the woman responsible.
As they left, three more women arrived. One had been left some land by her husband in his will and another male relative was now contesting this. She was unable to read or write more than her name and totally unfamiliar with the legal system and very scared and anxious. She has potentially been cheated of many thousand rupees by relatives and lawyers.
The other ladies were seeking legal assistance because a lawyer who had offered to support one of them had abused his position of trust and established a very unpleasant relationship with her. He had just absconded leaving her with nothing but a very damaged reputation- extraordinarily difficult to live with in these parts. They discussed what she could do next and she was reassured about the next steps and the support of the people at Samunnat.
Then Kopila left for the office!
This is a very typical morning for her. Some things are resolved and others are not. The girl who was imprisoned was released and will return to this region where Samunnat will help her get onto her feet again. She may learn some polymer clay work.
The lady who has been cheated of all she has is still in a dreadful situation, having been tricked into signing all sorts of documents she didn’t understand. There is a long, difficult road ahead of her. The girl who was “dumped” by the lawyer has started the process of obtaining a marriage certificate. All of them will be supported and encouraged by the women of Samunnat who have already begun their own journeys to independence.
One of these women is Meena who is now earning money making gorgeous aprons and doing some tailoring for local people. She has been so diligent and determined as she works on the quality of what she does and is getting so much pleasure from seeing her skills improve. She obtained basic training in the Newstart course and is now building on this.
Another is Man Kumari who is now earning enough from her jewellery making to have left a very vulnerable and potentially dangerous domestic work situation. Both are vehement in encouraging other women to be brave. And both, like most of the other ladies in the office, were in tears when we received a letter from a woman in America who had made a very generous donation and who had sent a profoundly encouraging message to us all that came from her own experience of suffering and grief. Her message to hold onto our dreams was timely!
Some of you may recall that some time ago we wrote about a dreadful situation where a 9 year old girl was raped by a man in a position of authority over her. He was employing her father on his land and was in a highly esteemed social role. Her mother had committed suicide many years before and she was being raised, with her sister and two brothers, by her father.
Samunnat helped to arrange the arrest and the application to police so that the situation could be bought to court and some justice obtained. The little girl went to Kathmandu and is now in a school there. Tragically, her father was so distraught by the whole event and by his own sense of having failed his daughter that several months ago he too committed suicide. One baby was adopted by family members and the younger daughter has been adopted by a Nepali family who took her in when the situation became impossible. Slowly, the children are regaining trust in people and finding joy in their lives.
Recently, we heard that the perpetrator of the crime has been gaoled for 9 years and that he is being ordered to pay compensation to the little girl. She will never get her childhood back but to some extent, justice has been done. We were very worried that, given his power and position, this may not have happened so were all very relieved to hear this result.