Interview with Program Director and co-founder Sangeeta Shrestha.
Sangeeta is the Program Director and co-founder of WAWCAS in Nepal. She knows that WAWCAS makes a difference every day.
Sangeeta Shrestha is a woman experienced in the area of development. For almost thirty years, she has worked purposefully to improve the conditions for women and children in Nepal. She knows what works and what it takes for change to take root. She knows that it is crucial to help and support the women in all areas of life so that they can succeed with their businesses.
”What makes WAWCAS unique—apart from the fact that we train women to run a business—is that we also make them aware of their rights and teach them how to deal with family related problems. We give them the opportunity to change their lives,” Sangeeta clarifies. It is important for her to shed light on a very important factor in the WAWCAS program:
“We do not do the work for the women, we support them using our knowledge, humor, and hands-on experience every step of the way. We support them with our heart and soul. We are with them every step of the way.”
The Importance of the Group
Sangeeta explains that the women are organized into groups. This gives them a strong network in which they can find support. Here, they can tell others about the various problems and situations they face in their everyday life. She is proud to say that the women are very honest when talking about their businesses, their ups and downs, and their family related issues:
“They are good at discussing and finding solutions. In this way, they themselves take an active part in solving problems and supporting each other in the projects. This creates self-esteem and confidence, and is an important factor of the program. This is how we empower the women and groups. We respect and value each woman’s opinion—everybody has equal value in the group. They become stronger and stronger and start to respect themselves, which is of upmost importance.”
Sangeeta emphasizes that WAWCAS always encourages the women in the program to be problem solvers and not problem spotters:
“If there is a problem there is always a solution.”
Children at School
The difference between WAWCAS and many other projects is that we do not actually support the children directly. Rather, we have a clear demand that the children go to school regularly. The women must create their own life foundation. They must learn to help themselves, and their family in the process. This is what provides sustainable change for the children,” Sangeeta explains and continues:
“WAWCAS is well-known in Nepal and the areas we work in. The women know the principles of WAWCAS: if they participate, they have to start their own business and repay on time. But if they are committed they will get a chance of a lifetime, learn a lot, and be able to change not only their own lives, but also the lives of their family and children.”
Sangeeta finishes of with a request to remember:
“Anyone who feels a bit down should come and work for WAWCAS. Meeting these women just makes you so happy. They have taken life into their own hands and changed so many things for the better.”
- Lives in Nepal
- Has a degree in Political Science from the University of Katmandu
- Founder of the Nepalese NGOs Slisha and Wave and co-founder of WAWCAS International
- More than 29 years of experience in development work (NGO work bilateral-, multilateral- and government projects) focusing on women’s development, children, village development and social mobility
- Highly effective trainer/facilitator of capacity building and group strengthening training for organizations, communities, local facilitators, and field staff