Durga Devi Silwal
I am Durga Devi Silwal from Bhanu Municipality ward no 9 Chittikhola. I am staying with my mother and younger brother. I am married but separated after one year.
Time flies. It has already been 16 months since I became a member of the WAWCAS group. Before I had no idea what would happen in the group and how it would go. Now I feel how much I have learned and how much my life has changed. My level of confidence is high. Before I hardly talked with others. I was so scared to talk with anyone. Now I am able to discuss logically. This is the result of being a WAWCAS member. Through this program, my social and economic status has changed a lot.
Due to COVID, WAWCAS could not starts in our area, but finally after two years I got a chance to be a member of WAWCAS. Now I feel so proud even though I am not educated. I learned so much. One of the best tool is PCA (Pocket Chart Analysis). I discussed this tool with my relatives as well. I feel so lucky to learn and start a business. Now I am sure my future will be secured, and I should not worry about it.
Our members have supported me in many ways. They helped me threshing the paddies and we completed the threshing on the same day. Without assistance from my group members, I cannot finish my work. And last month when my mother passed away, all WAWCAS group members came and helped me and stayed with me.
My goat farming and vegetable farming business are going well. My three years plan is to expand my business to have two vegetable farms and also farming 8-10 goats. 300,000 rupees will be my saving. I believe that I can take good care of my younger brother. After my mother passed away, he became more aggressive, but I am dealing with it in a good way.
I want to thank the WAWCAS program and Slisha. I understand from Pabitra, we will have our own LNGO, and I will be a member of WAWCAS Tanahun soon. I am excited and cannot wait to be a member of WAWCAS Tanahun.
I am very happy to write Durgas’ blog. She looks like my own elder sister. Whenever I visit her place she always shares her happiness, sorrow, and grief. I feel so good and happy to see her change and show her trust in me. I would like to thank Durga and would like to express my best wishes for her future. I am sure she can inspire many other women in the community.
We are seven sisters and one brother. My parents wanted to have a son and therefore after seven sisters, we had one brother. Unfortunately, he is physically weak. Since we are so many children, my parents could not afford to send us to school. My father passed away when we were children, and everything was on the shoulders of my mother. When my father passed away, I more sad than ever before in my life.
My mother and us sisters work very hard and my younger brother’s health is very bad. But we cannot take him to the hospital for treatment. We also got married early, but unfortunately my married life was not stable. My husband had an affair with another girl, and he got married with her. Since then, I am staying with my mother and younger brother.
A few days ago, my mother passed away.
And I’m in a shock.
These are truly the saddest days of my life.
My mother was 85 years old, and I should have prepared myself for this. But it was beyond my capacity, and I spent day and nights taking care of my mother. But now she passed away. Today is the 13th day of her departure.
When Pabitra came to meet me, I could not stop the tears in my eyes. I recall all the discussions Pabitra had with my mother. We both cried a lot. I know everybody has to go forever one day but accepting that my mother is no more here is very tough. I don’t know how I will take care of my disabled brother.
Pabitra tries to encourage me. Tell me that I will manage effectively. She says that everyone has to go. This is the rule of nature, and we have to accept it and move on.
After Pabitra left I felt better.
But moving on is very, very hard.
In our communities, talking about sex is a social taboo. When Pabitra discussed HIV/Aids we were not comfortable. We looked at each other’s faces but Pabitra continued and asked us if we were feeling uncomfortable discussing these issues. HIV is a sexually transmitted infection (STI). It can also be spread by contact with infected blood and from injecting illicit drugs or sharing needles. It can also be spread from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding. There’s no cure for HIV/AIDS, but medications can control the infection and therefore prevent spreading.
I enjoyed very much the game we played. Pabitra asked us to volunteer 6 members from the group and she gave the names below:
- T helper cells
- T cell
- B cell
- HIV affected
She posted those titles on our back and called an HIV-affected person to stand in the middle of the circle. My friend went to stand in the middle of the circle. The rest of us stood in the circle. Firstly, T helper cells said that she was the main protector of the body. She will not allow anybody to enter and if someone tries to enter, the T helper cell will fight with them. If the T heldper cells do not succeed then she will call the supporters: T Cell, B cell, Macrophage – they are also cells which protect the body. Whenever T helper cells inform us, we are ready to fight with anybody trying to enter into our bodies.
Retrovirus: Will enter your body and stay there. She will eat all macrophage, and the body will be weak . Once it enters your body, it will never let go. Then the retrovirus fight with all the cells the HIV-affected patient will fall down, and the game was complete.
After that, the HIV affected person stood up and said that she had sex with many people without any precautions, and therefore got this infection. And transmitted it to the wife as well.
The room was silent as everyone was listening carefully. After the game, we discussed how to protect ourselves from HIV/Aids and what are our roles if we saw HIV-affected people in our community. Our heads were full of thoughts, and I was very surprised by all cells, which I had no idea about it. After the discussion, I committed myself to disseminate that information in my communities. If there are HIV-affected people, then I will request that they are treated nicely.
After the IBT training, Pabitra informed us that she will come to our houses and conduct PSRP1. I have learned many things through IBT (Issue-Based Training). My life has changed a lot and very honestly speaking it was not easy for me. When I look back over the past months, I am not the same Durga. I have improved myself, but still, there are areas to change and improve. In every IBT meeting, Pabitra teaches us different topics. Every topic is important and knowledgeable. But what I realize most is that only learning is not enough, self-realization and implementation is equally important.
PSRP helps me to review myself and understand how to look back and compare my life today with my previous life. It really inspires me to improve. Pabitra asks all the questions regarding IBT topics such as nutrition, sanitation, child rights, women’s rights, and gender. All the topics, which we have completed. I like that I have a chance to show her my real field and I have the opportunity to show my changes and improvements. After the self-review, Pabitra and I came up with the following list of all my improvements to date: I keep records of income, expenses, and savings, and I can make decisions and work by myself. We also added the ability to balance diet and keeping the shed clean and good customer treatment. In fact, I have been following every rule of the WAWCAS group. I have improved a lot of things. And this is only possible by self-actualization. Without it, I cannot be able to establish myself as a whole person, develop my abilities and understand myself.
1PSRP: Participatory Self-Review Programme
I was dying to go to school, but I did not get that chance when I was a child. I can only write my name – that’s it – I cannot read and write. But our training in WAWCAS is so meaningful and it goes directly to my heart. I received a dairy during the last days of the 7 days of training. I was frustrated seeing the diary because how do I write my feelings? But then Pabitra showed us how to write our feelings with pictures and we can also draw our emotions in the journal. I feel so good. I always carry my dairy while I am participating in the training. I feel that I have fulfilled my dream to go to school.
From that day, every evening before I go to bed, I write my feelings and emotions with drawings. I am not only writing but I am reflecting too: why I am sad or why that day I feel good about what has happened to my life. It is so good to see the previous pages.
Normally I don’t feel bad because I am doing my business good and I also have expanded my business. But when my younger brother scolds me, I feel so bad. Actually, I am the breadwinner of my family, which makes me so proud. Sometimes I feel so frustrated with my life. Taking care of my old mother and disabled younger brother is tough. However, I am fulfilling my duties wholeheartedly.
Our trainer Pabitra started a session with a game by dividing us into two groups with equal members. She informed us that one group should act like a male would do and another should act as a woman. The atmosphere was full of fun, and we are asking many questions. Before the game started, she again asked which group was playing males and which were females.
Then the game started.
Norms are: We should all listen carefully to what is said and if a male’s situation is better, then the male group had to move one step forward. And if women’s situation was better, then the women’s group should move one step forward.
Pabitra said that in Nepal male literacy rate is higher than for women. We look at each other and our group (the male group) took one step forward. Everyone was listening carefully because we didn’t want to lose the game. Pabitra said in Nepal almost all governmental officers are male. Again, we took one step forward. Then she said that in Nepal the women’s population is bigger than the male population and this time the other group, i.e. the women’s group, moved forward. In the end we found that women’s situation is far behind compared to the situation of the men.
After the game, Pabitra asked, as always, how was the game and what did we learn from the game. The game was very interesting, and it was concluded that we need equity to make equality.
Pabitra asked us what we understand when we hear the words women’s rights. We concluded that the government has given us nondiscrimination between men and women, and therefore we should raise our voices and create a gender-just society. Like we have the right to fight against violence. Apart from that, the Nepali government has given special rights as follows:
- Participation: at least 40% of women should participate at all levels
- Education: in each School, at least one woman must be a teacher
- Maternity leave: women have three months of maternity leave
- Gender justice: if a personal check is needed, women police must check women
- Transportation: reserve two seats for women
Pabitra mentioned that we should demand our rights. If they are not given for example while you are traveling if men are occupying reserved seats, then we should ask them to leave the seats.
Lastly, we concluded that we should seek our rights but we must not forget our duties/responsibilities as well.
I commit myself to implementing our rights and duties.
Training started with a review of the previous day’s session, which started with Nutrition. Pabitra asked, why we eat food. We eat food for survival or eat food to eat, and then everybody laughed. However, we agreed that we eat food for survival. Pabitra was very happy listening to our responses, and she added that we eat food for physical development as well as mental development. For that, we need food for our bodies.
There are three different varieties of foods:
Provide energy: Maize, rice, oil, banana, sugar, wheat, potato, sweet potato, sugar, and fats
Build the body: All beans, fish, meat, milk, eggs
Protect against diseases: Vegetables, fruits
Pabitra again asked, what are our eating styles that in practice in our area. We look at each other and shared that we usually eat one or two types of food. Pabitra added that it is not enough for our bodies. If there is maize harvest season, everybody eats only the maize and similarly, if it is the season for the beans, everybody eats beans. Therefore, through this lesson, we should change our behavior regarding food habits.
Pabitra informed us that in our body, 20% protein is needed and the body itself makes 12% protein. Therefore, the remaining 8% of protein needs to be fulfilled from the food. If we are not able to manage the 8% protein from the food, then the 12% protein provided by the body will be lost. This is very new to us.
Then we played a game. We were divided into three groups. In addition, different names were given to each group such as:
Group 1: Energy Group
Group 2: Body Building Group
Group 3: Protection Group
I belong to the Group 3, so I tried to remember the food items which protect our body.
There are many small cards (with pictures of different food items on the card) The different cards were put on the floor face down. Each group was then asked to pick up one of their relevant cards and see if the cards matched the group or not.
After the game, Pabitra requested to discuss available foods in our areas and prepared a seasonal calendar. It was a very interesting part to prepare a seasonal food calendar, and we understood that in every season there are varieties of food we can grow or is available, so we commit ourselves to eat food from the three categories. And we will also reduce junk foods.
I was thinking about launching a new additional business. We have actually received training on additional businesses through the business training, but to be very honest, I still have to learn more about the extra cases.
Pabitra came to visit my place and I discussed with her more details about my additional business. She was very happy listening to my views and suggested I should start vegetable farming. Therefore, together with her I have prepared a business plan. As per the plan I needed almost 15000 rupees for the preparation of the tunnel. I decided to prepare a tunnel and after receiving a loan from the group, I went to the market to buy plastic and bamboo for the tunnel. The next morning, I discussed it with my group members and as per their suggestions and supports, I prepared a tunnel and started my organic vegetable farming business. I really hope that after two to three months, I am able to sell my vegetables and have more earnings.
During this period, I have learned much and when I look back, I am not the same Durga. I feel totally different.
It is very true, that if you think whole heartily you will reach what you want. So nowadays I don’t think of any negative words about myself, and I always think, why not me?
During the rainy season most people completed the threshing paddy. But not me. My big worry was how to get time to thresh the paddy. However, I had confidence that I would discuss this during the meeting next day and therefore I felt relaxed and slept well. Early in the morning I completed my household chores and was ready for the meeting. In the meantime Pabitra came and greeted me. I joined Pabitra and we went to the meeting. On the way I discussed with her about my worry to thresh my paddy, and as usual she suggested not to worry and discuss this in the meeting.
After the repayment and saving meeting, I requested time to discuss my problem. My big worry is that since my health is not good, I needed support from my team members to thresh my paddies. Everyone asked what type of help I was looking for. It was not comfortable for me to ask directly for help therefore, I explained my expectation. My group members look at each other for a while and then asked when I needed support. I said as soon as possible. The group decided to help the next day and each member would support with two-hours of work on my paddies. After listening to our member’s views on the needed support, I was so happy and I felt so proud to be a member of the WAWCAS group. Early in the morning the next day, we started threshing my paddies and by 6 pm we had completed everything.
I thanked them all from the bottom of my heart: Thank You Thank you Thank you
With the speed of time, it has been eight months since we joined the WAWCAS program. Time flies so fast – I can’t believe it. During these periods I have been through all ups and downs and succeeded to come across challenges. But it is not easy to overcome the problems and without challenges, I cannot be strong which I have learned during the trainings. While conducting SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis during the 7days of training I thought about why this is needed because I never ever used this tool in my whole life. But through this tool, I am able to identify my strength, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Identifying my own weaknesses is not easy but honestly speaking I have identified my weaknesses through my past experiences and present situations. I have learned from the SWOT analysis how to change my own weaknesses into my own strength. If I think and plan for my weaknesses to change into my strengths, I need to be alert to my own weakness and then it is easy to change it. With this SWOT analysis, my confidence level has increased. Normally I don’t speak much, therefore I cannot take note of my thoughts during the meeting and training sessions. I am aware of my rights but it is difficult to share them with others by raising my voice. I always blamed my faith, but later on I realized that’s not true.
I developed the plan with support from Pabitra and practice it as per the plan. Through this SWOT analysis tool, I learned work should be done on time. There is a saying that “A flowing river does not return, time does not wait for anyone”. Hence I should not think that I cannot do it. I learned that I have to transfer my weaknesses into my strengths and should take challenges as an opportunity. Then I will reach the peak of success.
Through SWOT analysis I am able to change my weaknesses into strengths. Now I can confidentially put my thoughts/opinions on paper and raise my voice, and I am able to identify what is right and what is wrong for me. Most importantly I am not thinking anymore that I am a weak person. Therefore changes through SWOT has taken place.
PCA has been an important tool to me for my socio-economic transformation. This has been an eye opener not only for me but for other women who have drowned into unnecessary expenses. I have seen many women whose household have ruined just because they were not able to properly mobilize their income and expenses.
Initially, when Pabitra asked us to do the PCA, I did not realize its importance; neither did it help me to increase my income, nor did I believe I had any unnecessary expenses. However, my mindset completely changed when I saw that my expenses were more than the income. I was shocked. I had never analyzed my income and expenses before. Then I realized the importance of PCA.
Before WAWCAS, the only sources of income were the government allowances of my handicapped brother and old mother, which would only suffice their medical treatment. For all other expenses, I have to manage it myself. I never have enough income for household expenses and it make me emotional many times. I regularly reflected on the PCA after the first one done during the 7 days training. I was able to identify the unnecessary expenses and other possible sources of income. I started a goat farming business, expanded with the vegetable business, and continued with daily wages work as well. I really hope by this month, I should not continue my daily wages work. Because I have expanded my business which eventually increased my income. I often questioned myself; Why did I not look for the other sources of income before?
Time just flies, this month we should pay our first installment. To manage for my first installment, I sold one of the goats, which was fully grown up after six months period. It helped me a lot for 1st repayment of the Seed Money.
With the PCA, I was able to identify an unnecessary expense. Whenever I called my relatives and friends, I spend more than required which increased my expense. I have decreased Nrs. 500 per month on telephone only. Similar was the case of other expenses. I have been able to manage with much less expenses than before.
After becoming the member of a WAWCAS group, I got the opportunity to learn many new and practical things. Today I am excited and curious to learn new things in the training because Pabitra always teaches us new things in the meetings/trainings.
Pabitra started the session with warm welcome and reviewed the previous training. Due to my mother’s sickness, I really have not been able to focus on business and other matters. However, I am very much excited about today’s training. Pabitra reminds us of the issues we have discussed during SSA1 and the indicators we have developed. Pabitra asked us what comes to our minds when we heard the word sanitation. When I heard the word sanitation, I felt like it’s so simple and I know everything about cleanliness. During our discussion, I realized we don’t know so many things about it I know we shall be aware of our personal hygiene, we shall keep our home and surroundings clean, and we have to be aware of hygienic food. During the discussion, I came to realize that personal hygiene is important and also it is important to make our surroundings clean. We also learnt that we should wash the stone grinder after use which we are not doing now. We also discussed the menstruation period. When we heard the word ‘Period’, all of us felt ashamed and we put our head down. But Pabitra told us that there is no reason to be ashamed. It is a natural process. And she added that we must take good care of our hygiene during our period and we should wash our private parts regularly. She informed us that if we are using a cloth during the menstruation period we should wash it properly and dry it in the sun. Most of us feel shy to dry it in the sun, but she explained it is very important to do so because the sun rays help to kill the germs and keep us safe.
I commit myself that from now and onwards I will clean my mother’s bed regularly and her room and surroundings as well.
Note: SSA is Social Situation Analysis
I was so busy on taking care of my sick mother. At the time, Pabitra came to me and greeted with Namaskar, and said how I am doing? I greeted with Namaskar and replied back that I am having a hard time because of my mother’s sickness; due to her age she has high blood pressure and problems with her stomach. We kept my mother to the courtyard of house from inside making the bed sheet. Pabitra helped my mother to get outside because my mother cannot walk by herself. Then she sat near to my mother and asked her how she is now.
My mother recognised Pabitra by her voice because she knew her closely for 2 years. Pabitra remembered that my mother was fine when she visited us earlier.
Actually, my mother got sick after her 84 years celebration. From then she was not feeling well and after 15 days of that we needed to care of her potty because she cannot get to the restroom by herself. At the same time, my brother came to us. He has a mental problem so he was about to hit me. When Pabitra saw this, she shouted, be careful. For a while the situation was stressful. My mother always says that she doesn’t want to live anymore she also repeats this with Pabitra. Pabitra said that she should not speak like this. But I am very scared about what will happen if she passed away; how do I live with my mentally ill brother? I don’t want to think about that but what to do always come to my mind. I was so frightened and nervous about any bad incident that may occur to my mother. Now she is getting better, but we don’t know what may occur in the future. Sometimes I have to spend the whole night massaging the legs and hands of my mother. I felt within me, that it is not good to call the brothers of neighbors every day. Sometimes, I thought that if relatives or other sisters of neighbors came to look after my mother, then I will be able to get the time to sleep. But my mother wants me to be close to her side. She called my name Durga and asked me to be by her side. I feel proud of myself even in such sickness, she had trust in me. There was no one to support my work, so I have to look after my business, my sick mother, and my brother with mental problems. I felt like I will get sick after looking after all those. But it is my responsibility and duty to look after my family. Looking at my happiness and my laughter, Pabitra says that I am fulfilling the responsibility greater than the son. The work I am doing is commendable.
With the commitment to meeting next time, Pabitra left our place. I look at my mother’s face; she is just lying there, and I look at her worried face.
Pabitra informed us that today’s meeting will be different and will take more time than normal meetings, and therefore I am finishing my household work early. Seeing Pabitra has already arrived I hurried and left immediately.
Pabitra facilitated the meeting by warm welcoming us and asking how you define ultra-poor and poor. I respond to her that the well-off are those who have enough money and poor are those who lack money. After that my other friends in the group also shared their thoughts such as those who cannot fulfil basic needs, don’t have enough food for the whole year, no land, no big house is considered an ultra-poor person. Similar, the person who have land access, can afford a comfortable life, can send their children to big school is considered as well-off. Pabitra informed us that the Nepal government has developed different tools to categorize people according to economic status. As one example of categorization based on ownership of land, these four categories were pasted on the board: (1) ultra-poor people have land which can only provide food for the household for only 3 months every year, (2) poor people have land providing food for 6 months, (3) mid-poor people can produce enough food for 9 months for the household, and (4) not poor people can produce food on their land for the entire year. Pabitra then gave us a piece of paper where our own name was written, and she asked us to stick our name on the board listing the 4 economic status categories. As discussed, I thought I fall into ultra-poor as I don’t have cultivated land access and it’s hard for me to fulfill the basic need of my family. At first, I felt so awkward pasting my name in the ultra-poor category. Pabitra also said that the program of WAWCAS is for the women like us. So, I pasted my name into the ultra-poor group, but other members told me that I am not falling into the ultra-poor category since I have a small plot of land. But as my land is unproductive, everybody later agreed that I belong to the ultra-poor. Likewise, the other women also pasted their names on the board according to their economic status.
After the Economic status ranking, Pabitra asked us to make a map of the location of our houses. I asked her why we should make this, and she replied it is easy to find out the direction by seeing the map. It helps to know the way for others also. Otherwise, people might be confused. We started to make a map of our location.
Pabitra said that it is not a sin to be born poor, but it is a sin to die poor, and therefore we have to start our business and change our economic status. This touched my heart so much and I commit myself to change my status.
During the ISM* meeting, Pabitra informed us that she would visit our home soon and today she visited us. I heard the word Namaskar and then I saw Pabitra and her friend coming to my place. I greeted them. My 84 years old mother was sitting outside and Pabitra sat with my mother and talked very informally. Pabitra started to discuss with me what happened after the ISM meetings; how do I feel, to whom I have shared about the program etc. I told her what I have done. I have discussed with my brother and mother since I was waiting the last two years to be part of the WAWCAS program. I have seen from other areas how women were empowered and changed their socio-economic lives. I am very much willing to join and change my whole families’ life. The WAWCAS program develops women’s confidence, therefore I like it so much. Pabitra asks me what types of business I would like to start. Since we have plenty of places for grazing, I would like to start a goat farming business, but my big concern is in case my goat dies do I need to pay the loan back ? Listening to my question, Pabitra informs me that I have to pay back the loan, but to minimize those issues, we will also get training in livestock where we will learn many home remedies. In the training, we will learn how to raise goats healthy, how to feed good grass and fodder and the Technical Assistant will also support us. If our goats get sick the Technical Assistant will charge the medicine but not for check-ups. When I heard that information, I am quite happy. Pabitra also informs me that the district livestock office will support the livestock insurance with 70% and only 30% is ours.
Pabitra again talks about 7day’s training. I was very worried how I could manage to participate fully the 7days. She smiles and says that ‘where there is a will there is a way’ and then I also smile. My mind is full of thoughts. I am listening and asking questions myself.
For two years I have been looking forward to becoming a member of WAWCAS and now the time has come, so I should not miss this great opportunity. As Pabitra says, I have to find out my way and I am sure I will manage it. For a while, both of us were quiet. Pabitra started the conversation again and we will soon have the next meeting. I am more encouraged to participate in the next meeting.
Note: ISM is Information Sharing Meeting
I am Durga Devi Silwal from Bhanu Municipality ward no 9 Chittikhola. I am staying with my mother and younger brother. I am married but separated after one year. Since then I am staying at my mother’s house. Before the first lockdown two years back I have participated WAWCAS ISM* program and I am very impressed with the program. The program supports needy women and develops entrepreneurs but due to the effects of the corona pandemic it could not start in our area. We expected that the program would start after the corona. Time passes on and on and the situation of the corona is ups and downs.
After two years I got the message from my friend that Pabitra our trainer from WAWCAS, is coming for the meeting, and again I am so happy. I do not have words to express how happy I am now. All my problems will reduce day by day and I will be earning soon wow! I was eagerly waiting that day and now the day comes.
I was very excited and finished all my household chores early and ready for the meeting. There were more than 35 women together with me. Pabitra welcomed us and asked the questions about how are we doing? What do we remember from the previous meetings? Honestly speaking I forgot it all due to the corona situation being very scary. However, Pabitra informed me again and while she was explaining I started to recall all the information. It is an entrepreneurship-training program for women in needy areas that strengthen us personally, socially, and economically. It helps to establish a women’s group where we do saving and loans and to start small businesses. Apart from that, there will be a child group also where they learn various skills. Pabitra also discussed the formation of LNGO* and after exit, all members will be members of WAWCAS LNGO and continue as active members. I have big courage and hope that my life will be better like other WAWCAS women.
Note: ISM is Information Sharing Meeting, LNGO is Local Non-Govermental Organisation
Namaskar, I am Pabitra Pariyar and since 2018 I am working as Local Program Leader in Tanhun. Today I am here with you to bring experiences from Durga Silwal. I will be with you the coming 16 month’s period and writing on behalf of Durga. I am sure Durga will change her life better and find out the ways to solve the issues with our support. I hope you will read her story with enthusiasm.
With Best Regards, Pabitra Pariyar