Balkumari

My name is Balkumari Gurung. I am from Vhanu municipality ward number 12. My village's name is Matkina in the Tanahun district. I am a woman growing up in a poor family. I could not study beyond class 7 due to the poor financial condition of my family. My life was filled with pain and suffering.

January 2024

Namaskar, everyone! I would like to extend a warm welcome to all of you to my 8th blogpost. As part of our routine, we always begin our meetings or training sessions by reviewing our previous discussions or training sessions. This helps us to stay updated and builds a strong foundation for the new topics that we cover. Sima is an excellent facilitator, and I am always eager to learn something new from her. I am excited to see what new things she has in store for us today. Sima began by asking us what we had eaten today. After receiving our responses, she inquired about the reasons why we eat food. Some of us replied that we need food to work, while others stated that we eat food for survival. Sima appreciated our responses and went on to explain the different varieties of food.

She explained that individuals who are weak during childhood often grow up to be weak and sickly, both physically and mentally. Therefore, it is important to consume a balanced and nutritious diet from an early age. A balanced and nutritious diet is crucial for maintaining a person’s physical and mental well-being. To maintain good health, the three food groups should be consumed in balanced quantities.

  1. Foods that give us energy: Carbohydrates such rice, wheat, maize, barley, potatoes, sweet-potatoes, sugarcane, and sugars, ghee (clarified butter), oil, etc. provide us energy. These foods act as a fuel for our body and provide us energy so that we can do our work.
  1. Body building foods: Pulse, peas, beans, nuts, milk, curd, fish, meat, eggs, etc. help in the building process of our body. It is responsible for the fast recovery from tissue damage and the normal growth of the body.
  1. Foods that help our body fight against diseases: Different types of vitamins and minerals fall under this category. Some of the examples are spinach, carrot, radish, pumpkin, gourd, tomatoes, papaya, orange, guava, lime, lemon, cauliflower, cabbage, mustard, mango, etc. Such type of foods strengthens our immunity and protects us from diseases.

 

After our discussion, we played a game where we divided into three groups. The groups were named “Food that gives energy”, “Food that builds the body”, and “Food that protects the body”. Sima was the leader of the game, and when she said “run”, we had to run. If she said “body build and energy group”, then the members of those two groups had to switch places. Similarly, if Sima said, “body protect and body build group”, then two group members had to change their seats. And if she said, “balance diet”, then all three groups had to change their seats. We enjoyed the game and laughed a lot.

Our trainer, Sima, divided us into three groups and assigned us the task of creating a seasonal food calendar that included foods from all three groups. We needed not to miss out on any of the three food groups, which we had previously discussed in class. We had to consider which foods were available in our area during each season and as a team, we worked together to create the calendar. We all agreed to commit to a balanced diet and start a vegetable garden to ensure that we always had food available and could save money.

December 2023

Namaste!   I, Balkumari, would like to extend a warm welcome to all my blog readers for this 7th part of my blog. Today, I would like to share with you all about my saving meetings. We always strive to be punctual because punctuality is an important factor for an effective meeting. We hold our saving meetings every second week of the month. During these meetings, I listen attentively to the discussions and training.

Our trainers always motivate us to save more, not only for regular savings but also for child savings and other optional savings. The trainer encourages us, and as a result, I have started saving for my child and optional savings. By saving more, we have more money to invest in our group, which has ultimately helped our business expand positively.

I always focus on the amount I have to pay and my various types of savings. In our savings group, we invest our money based on priorities such as illness, education, and business expansion. The top priority for loan disbursement is given to these categories. We can borrow money from the group’s savings pool, but we must repay it within three months with a 10% interest rate. It’s important to note that all calculations are done by us, and they are transparent. In this way, our leadership skills are also developing and all members are aware of our total savings. This month, I have taken 10,000 rupees to expand my business. I always focus on my business and manage my time well. Previously, no one trusted me to obtain loans, but now we have seed money and have started our own businesses. Additionally, we have our own funds to provide loans to us whenever needed. The training we receive from the WAWCAS program is very practical and useful in our daily lives. I strongly feel that the program has opened our eyes to new possibilities. By implementing all that we have learned and saving more, we can lead happier lives.

October 2023

Greetings to all my readers! I am excited to welcome you to part 6 of my blog. I always eagerly look forward to participating in the IBT (Issue Based Training). Today’s topic for the IBT training was Sanitation.

Sima asked us to share our thoughts on what comes to mind when we hear the word sanitation. At first, I thought it was a simple concept that I knew everything about, but after our discussion, I realized there was much more to it than I initially thought. It became clear that our understanding of sanitation was limited, and there was much to learn about maintaining cleanliness and proper hygiene. I live in a village where many people, including myself, have little knowledge about personal hygiene, home cleaning, and keeping our surroundings clean. During a recent discussion, I realized how important it is for us to be aware of these things and take action. For instance, most of us used to brush our teeth once a day in the morning before eating anything. However, we learned that it is better to brush our teeth twice a day, after eating, both in the morning and in the evening.

During our training session, we had a discussion about menstruation. However, when the topic came up, we all felt embarrassed and avoided talking about it. Our trainer, Sima, assured us that menstruation is a natural process and there is no need to feel ashamed. She emphasized the importance of washing our private parts regularly and properly cleaning any cloth used during the menstruation period before drying it in the sun. While some may feel shy about hanging it out to dry, the sun’s rays can help eliminate bacteria.

Additionally, she stressed the significance of maintaining a clean kitchen by washing dishes daily. She also recommended washing the stone grinder after every use, something that many people tend to overlook.

It is crucial to maintain cleanliness in our homes, especially in our rooms. We learned that even our mattresses and quilts need to be exposed to sunlight occasionally as it helps kill germs and keep us safe. It is equally important to consume clean water only. Before we drink any water, we must ensure that it is purified. In case the water isn’t purified, we must take necessary measures to purify it, such as boiling it.

On that day, we learned many important things and decided it was time for a change. After discussing the matter, all members of Tanahun WAWCAS Group No. 43 agreed to clean the surroundings of our meeting place. We put our words into action and cleaned the area, which was a very satisfying experience for us all. After cleaning the area, it just looked amazing. I thought that if everyone in the village cleaned their houses and the surrounding area, it would look even more impressive. Our meeting was over, and we went back to our houses. As I looked around my kitchen, room, toilet, and goat shed, I realized how dirty they were. I felt ashamed of the mess.

Finally, I would like to express my gratitude to the trainers who provided me with such valuable training on sanitation. I have made a promise to myself to keep my home and surroundings clean, and I am committed to changing my behavior starting today.

September 2023

 

Hello everyone, I’d like to start by greeting my readers with a warm “Namaskar” and welcome you to part 5 of my blogs. After completing our seven-day training, our trainer and senior technical assistant (STA) from WAWCAS Nepal came to visit my business a few days later. It was a pleasure to have them both at our home for a check-up. Their visit brought me great joy. I was happy for another reason – I had started my goat farming business. However, I was nervous to show it to my friends. When Sima, Sonika, and Sudesh (our trainers) saw it, they were all very pleased. Sudesh (senior technical assistance) inspected the business and advised me to keep a distance between the goats and the place where I dump the manure. I agreed and promised to keep the area clean and never to dump manure near the goats.

Sima asked me how I started my business. It is a very emotional topic for me because starting my own business was a significant achievement. Due to my poor financial condition, I had to work as a daily wage earner. However, after the WAWCAS program was introduced in our village, I was able to learn how to improve my economic condition.

I am feeling anxious about starting a goat farming business because I am unsure if it will be profitable as per my business plan. This is a completely new venture for me and I have no prior experience in this field. To begin with, I need to construct a goat shed, and my husband is helping me cut bamboo for this purpose. It took two days to cut and bring it home. We thought of raising a goat in a small area at the corner of our house. I made a goat shed in three days with the help of my husband. I utilized seed money to buy a goat. I bought three goats among them one goat was pregnant but now it has given birth to two baby goats. So, I hope I will earn some money. Finally, I would like to thank our trainer who supported me very much. I promise I will always give continuity to my goat farming business, and I will save more money and become a successful businessperson in life. Sima took the baby goat, and she said it was so cute, but my baby goat was suffering from diarrhea. Thank God! Sudesh came at the right time. He checked my baby goat and gave me some medicine. He told me it would take 3 hours for the goat to completely get well. I really thanked Sudesh. We talked about so many things and our trainer gave me congratulations and advised me to do continuity in business.

Finally, I would like to thank our trainer who supported me very much. I promised myself that I will always give continuity to my goat farming business, and I will save more money and become a successful businessperson in life.

September 2023

 

I have been fortunate to attend several meetings of the WAWCAS program. As a result, I was delighted to become a member. Once I finished my household duties, I arrived at the designated meeting-spot alongside the other women. Sima, our trainer, arrived shortly after and warmly greeted us before commencing the meeting. She briefly went over the previous meeting before emphasizing that the purpose of today’s gathering was to analyze the current social situation. During a social analysis, a question was asked which stimulated diverse responses from the group. Some participants thought the question referred to the situation of the goat, buffalo, and chicken, while others interpreted it as pertaining to the status of Nepali-speaking individuals or the condition of our crops. The resulting exchange was lively and enjoyable.

 

 

She proceeded to elaborate on the genuine importance of the Social Situational Analysis. It tackles the challenges we confront concerning discrimination, based on gender, caste, and socio-economic status, encompassing mental, social, economic, and physical maltreatment targeting women and children. Additionally, it encompasses the diverse predicaments we encounter in our locality, reaching from sanitation to resource management.

Our trainer divided us into five groups and gave us open-ended questions to conduct a Social Situational Analysis on various topics pertaining preventive healthcare and sanitation, child rights and development, women’s rights and violence, resource mobilization, and market analysis. Moreover, she urged us to bear in mind actual situations, such as whether we have registered our children’s birth registration and marriage registration. She also reflected on whether our children and spouses assist with household chores. She also gave more example questions such as who buys necessary things in your house? How far is the market from your home? When I heard all these, I was confused.

I just thought I am doing well on my own and I replied likewise. After the Social Situational Analysis was completed, the next important thing, called Indicator Development was started. I was quite amazed to see the status of the group. There were many women who married really soon so they have no citizenship and the people whose home were far away and had not still made it. The indicator was made in very effective way. The time bound was made according to the circumstances of the group.

I am really pleased I got to know a new thing today. Not only that we are behind but also, we need to bring a lot of changes in our behavior so that we can be empowered. I learnt the importance of the marriage and childbirth registration from this process.

Sima reminded us of the issue we have discussed during the indicators, we have developed. At that time, she divided the groups and we disused what we learned and shared so many things with each other.

I always used to go for working in other people’s home, so I haven’t had enough time for my own home cleaning. From now on, I have decided to clean regularly. When we are suffering from menstruation period, we feel ashamed to dry clothes in front of others in direct sun.

More important part is about nutrition. In our village we can find pesticide -free green vegetable which gives us more vitamin and energy in our body, but we don’t know any things about nutrition so green vegetable have been wasted. Sima promised us that we would get to know all about issued based training in monthly meeting.

We also learned about and discussed the social, mental, physical and economics violence towards men, children, and women. Many women faced such type of violence. The main reason of the violence is that men drink a lot of alcohol which create physical economical and mental violence against the women. We discussed each problem in the group. In the beginning, we felt awkward to share our problem towards the group. But Sima created a friendly environment so we easily could share our problems in the group.

After the discussion, I found many issues in our life. I promised myself that from now on, I will leave my shyness and hesitation and rise my voices.

August 2023

Sima, our trainer, told us this meeting would be different from the previous meeting, so I completed all my household work on time with some help from my husband. Then I went to the meeting place. All women who were interested in joining the WAWCAS program went to the meeting place. After a few minutes, Sima also came there. She greeted us and started the meeting with a warm welcome and a review of the last meeting.

Sima informed us, that today is the day of well-being-ranking. She asked us what well-being-ranking was about. We had no idea what well-being-ranking was. She explained to us, that it is the ranking of our economic status and that we should do it based on 4 categories. The 4 categories were ultra-poor, poor, medium-poor, and not poor. Then she also asked us to make an indicator of all categories. We discussed it a lot and finally agreed on the indicators of all categories. Although it was very tough for us, we defined the indicators like; the people who don’t have land, have difficulty to educate their children, have difficulty of getting medical treatment when they are ill, difficulty to provide food for the children, and have got economic problem was an indicator for being ultra-poor. The people who have no difficulty to give necessary things needed for the children, can go to good schools, and have a good life are not poor.

The Nepal government defines poverty,

  • If a person has 0-3 months of food from the produce of their agricultural land for the rest, they have to do labor work. Without work they are not able to feed themselves are ranked as an ultra- poor.
  • If a person has 4-6 months food from the produce of their agricultural land for the rest, they have to do the labor work. Without work they are not, able to feed themselves are ranked as poor.
  • If a person has 7-9 months food from the produce of their agricultural land for the rest, they have to do the labor work, they are not able to feed themselves are ranked as medium poor.
  • If a person has, all around the food from produce of their agricultural land are ranked as not-poor.

She had brought our names written in papers. She explained that we had to place the names in the columns of the 4 categories; ultra-poor, poor, medium poor, not poor. She started calling out the names for conducting the well-being ranking. When my name was called, and she handed me my name I was confused where I should place my name. I was very surprised also because the day before I never thought of my economic status. I closed my eyes and thought of my financial condition, and where I had to place my name. My economic status was matching the ultra-poor category because I am not able to fulfill my basic needs, so I knew the answer myself. I can’t afford good health services and I only have 0-3 month of food from the produce of my agricultural land, so I placed my name in the ultra-poor section. Sima asked the other women if I belonged in the ultra-poor category? The other women also agreed that I belonged in the ultra-poor section. Likewise me, other women also placed their name when it was their turn. After finishing economic-status ranking, sima told us that 27 women were selected for the WAWCAS program.

After the finishing the economic-status ranking, Sima asked us to make a social map of the location of our house. I asked her why it was necessary to make a social map. She explained to us that the social map helps us to find out the WAWCAS member’s house easily. Then we started to make the social map. It was a very interesting session because I enjoyed finding my house very much. I felt very happy to attend the WAWCAS program meeting that day. So, I immediately asked Sima when the next meeting was held. I am very much excited for the next meeting. I really thanked Sima to support the placing of my economic status through the ESR-tool.

Today, I realized that I belong to the ultra-poor; today the WAWCAS program opened my inner eyes to help me have a vision from ultra-poor to not poor in a few years.

July 2023

When I returned home after the third Information Sharing Meeting (ISM), my husband also arrived home from his work. I shared with him the WAWCAS Program and how women have started their businesses and have changed their lives. I also told him that Sima (our trainer) promised us, she would come to our home tomorrow morning. My husband was also happy and asked many questions.  I was a little bit nervous having Sima coming to our home. At 9:00 am the next morning my children had gone to school after eating our common Nepali food Dalbhat, and my husband had also left for work. I was cleaning my dishes. Suddenly I saw a person coming to our home. I was really happy to see Sima in our home. She said ”Namasker Didi” to me, and I also said “Namasker” to her.

I gave her a small straw mat to sit on and Sima asked me for a glass of water so I gave her a bottle of water. I don’t have a proper kitchen in our home, so I cook food in the open place. I showed her our room and the open place where I cook every day. We talked about so many things.

Sima asked me how I felt about the WAWCAS Program and what I learned during the ISM. I told her that I am very happy and excited. I trust that the programme will give me huge opportunities to start up my business and many more things. She also asked me how my husband felt about the WAWCAS Program. I replied to her that I shared everything with my husband, which I had also learned in the ISM meeting. Now he was very excited and happy for me because I am going to be a member of the WAWCAS Program.

Sima asked me about my family members and how my in-laws behave towards me. I told her that my in-laws have passed away and my husband is helpful. He helps me with every work, but I can’t share the whole thing with him, and he doesn’t share with me. I also shared with Sima that he used to drink a lot of alcohol in the evening. Therefore, I face much violence as well as mental and economic violence daily. I noticed that Sima became very sad when she understood my situation.

She asked me what type of business I will start.  I have been thinking about it, and I told her that I want to do goat farming. It is only my wish, and I don’t have a lot of knowledge about raising goats. I thought goat farming was a good idea as there is plenty of grass in our forest. Sima also reminds me about livestock training. She told me this training was going to be helpful for the business.

Sima informed me of the process of the programme and she promised to inform me of the next meeting which would come soon.

I am very happy and waiting for the next steps in the process.

My name is Balkumari Gurung. I am from Vhanu municipality ward number 12. My village’s name is Matkina. I am a woman growing up in a poor family. I could not study beyond class 7 due to the poor financial condition of my family. My life was filled with pain and suffering. Moreover, when I was growing up, after my father’s death, all the responsibility for the house fell on my mother’s shoulders. My mother could not meet the expenses of my house, so my mother decided my marriage. I got married with Harka Bahadur Gurung and my life changed in different ways. I have to face more struggles.

I still haven’t been able to have electricity in my house, even though there is electricity in everyoneelse’ house. My husband’s little income was not enough to educate the children, nurture them, take care of my mother’s medicine, and pay off debt.  One day I heard some women in the village talking about the WAWCAS program. I was very curious and wanted to know about the program. There was a meeting at 8:00 am in the building of Madkina and I decided to go to the meeting. I woke up early in the morning and finished my morning household work and then went to the meeting.

Two new faces were already there. They welcomed us and introduced themselves. They are employees of the WAWCAS program. They started talking about the program and Slisha organization. What they said touched my heart. I thought that if I would be a member of the WAWCAS Group I can start a small business from the seed money and my living standard will also increase.

I was listening very attentively as they talked about the women groups, child groups, monthly savings free vets, and technical services. They also discussed ongoing training like IBT (Issue Based Training), livestock training, and training on group management and business planning. I learned that there is a child group as well. The LPL Sima & Sonika gave us a storybook about another successful businesswomen’s story. I am very inspired by listening to their success story. In addition, the big, good news is our savings will be invested in our own group.

During the meeting, Dhankumari asked how to return the seed money and how much should we contribute. Sima told us about the process of seed money clearance, and we understood that the repaid seed money will be used for another needy woman. After listening to this, I feel very proud and lucky to contribute money.

I was very happy, and I went back home and shared it with my husband. Hewas not happy after listening to the WAWCAS program. He did not trust and believe me. He thought that it was all fake hence he told me not to go to the next meeting. I could not sleep the whole night thinking about the program, and I didn’t dare to participate in the second meeting.

When the trainers did not see me at the second meeting, they asked another woman about me and they understood the reality.  The next morning Sima and Sonika came to my place. I was very happy to see them. They greeted and met my husband. They told him about the WAWCAS program and asked him when his wife will start a business and earn money. That money will also reduce his financial burden so he must be happy and proud. Then after my husband realized that truth, he gave me permission to participate in the program.

I am so happy. I feel like a bird flying and touching the sky. I thanked Sima and Sonica for convincing my husband.