Saraswoti Sarki

I am Saraswoti Sarki and I’m 45 years old. I was born and grew up in a very poor family. I am the oldest daughter, and we are 8 siblings (five younger brothers and two younger sisters). As the oldest daughter, I have had to take care of my younger siblings and work a lot since five years old.
 

June 2024

Today, I want to share with you the profound importance of a balanced diet and why it’s truly essential.

During a recent discussion Sabina, our new trainer, asked what nutrition really meant, and a silence fell upon our group. None of us was truly familiar with the concept. However, through our collective conversation, we came to understand that nutrition is about providing our bodies with a balanced diet—a combination of foods that are crucial for our well-being.

 

For us, a balanced meal means incorporating vegetables, fruits, rice, corn, milk, and ghee from our own village. These are not just ingredients; they are the essence of health and vitality.

Our bodies require three types of food to thrive:

  1. Strength-giving foods: Foods rich in carbohydrates like rice, corn, wheat, barley, millet, and sources of healthy fats such as ghee and oils provide the energy our bodies need.
  2. Bodybuilding foods: Proteins from pulses, chickpeas, soybeans, and essential nutrients found in milk, curd, fish, meat, mushrooms and eggs are vital for our physical growth and development.
  3. Protective and disease-preventing foods: Vitamins and minerals from greens, cucumbers, carrots, nuts, oranges, and other fruits and vegetables strengthen our immune systems and shield us from illnesses.

Lack of awareness about balanced nutrition can lead to wastage of the food we grow and unnecessary expenditure on market-bought food. By blending homegrown and locally sourced products, we have not only saved money but also brought happiness to our family.

When our trainer pointed out in our meeting, that limiting salt intake to no more than 5 grams a day could help reduce high blood pressure, I immediately implemented this at home. Today, my husband passionately encourages everyone to embrace the practice of using what’s available in our kitchen garden and to cultivate vegetables suited to each season in their own small gardens.

 

Hello Readers,

My name is Sabina Achami. I have been part of the WAWCAS Program for two years now. Taking over this blog from Nar Bahadur has been a privilege for me, and I am excited to share the inspiring stories of hardworking women like Saraswoti Sarki with all of you.

Thank you for reading and joining me on this journey.

 

May 2024

Namaskar, I am Saraswoti Sarki. In the past, our community did not engage in formal businesses. Normally in our community people used to keep a few goats, cows, and buffaloes to earn a living. This was our primary source of income. However, things changed when we joined the WAWCAS Program. Through this program, we have the opportunity to attend various training sessions, particularly in animal husbandry and agriculture, personal development, how to make business plans and many more topics. Inspired by these trainings, some of us in the group decided to unite and focus on goat farming businesses.

 

On the last day of our seven-day training, each participant received Rs. 25,000 (approx. DKK 1250). I decided to invest this money in purchasing goats. Within about 15 days, I bought one male goat and two small goats. Following the trainer’s guidance, I managed the cage and paid special attention to their care. I applied everything I learned from the training to nurture the goats properly.

Time passed, and after six months, I sold two goats, and used part of the money to reduce my installment. And then I bought another goat with the remaining money. The cycle continued, and soon two baby goats were born. I am now firmly committed to continuing this business, as goat rearing has proven to be profitable in a short period of time.

Being part of a group has allowed us to learn many aspects of business, marketing, and problem-solving.  Before training, I believed things would work out independently, but I now understand that focusing on businesses can yield a good income.  Therefore, I have started an additional business. I bought a small buffalo at the cost of Rs. 15,000 and I am sure I can sell it for Rs 50,000 after three to four month.

All the members in our group are involved in businesses, and every household member is happy. They appreciate the purpose of this program, which has truly empowered us.

This initiative has made me independent, and my family is happier than ever. My husband continues his work, and I am successfully managing my businesses. Whenever I encounter any issues, the technical assistants from the organization are there to support me, and this has given me even more motivation. I am grateful for their continued support and hope to receive the same in the future.

Thank you.

April 2024

Namaskar, my name is Saraswoti Sarki. I’m thrilled to share that I have earned the respect of the community. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that my situation has been changed and valued by those around me. The Women at Work Children at School (WAWCAS) Program has brought about significant changes in our society. I would like to express my gratitude for playing an important role in addressing various societal issues.

 

WAWCAS provided special support for women’s rights, empowerment, and access to resources, which helped women create a separate identity from their past. Earlier, we were only aware of our rights, but we did not know how to access them in reality. After joining the WAWCAS Program, we had the opportunity to learn many things about our rights and responsibilities. Not only that, but also special thanks for making clear how to solve complex problems such as distortion, inconsistency, touch, and discrimination in the society. Our society is multi-lingual, multi-cultural, multi-religious, and multi-caste. In which I was a low caste person. When Issue-based discussions started taking place in our group, I got the opportunity to learn many things and I also got the opportunity to teach. In our society, there used to be untouchability and discrimination between high cast and low cast women. Now these things have diminished among us.

Previously, it was not permissible to wash ourselves in the community tap stands. As a result, we used to splash water on ourselves when we returned home. During meetings or gatherings, people used to sit in separate groups and converse among themselves. However, since all of us have participated in the WAWCAS Program, these separations have ceased to occur.

During today’s discussion on women’s rights, a couple of crucial points were highlighted. Firstly, it was reported that government has policy of 33% of women must participate at all levels. as Also, we learnt that 10% of total budget is allocated to women’s and children’s development activities. However, neither of these policies have been implemented in our community. As a result, our group decided to visit the municipality. And each ward should discuss this matter in the coming days.

In this way, I would like to thank the organization that has played an important role in changing the society and making it possible to fight for our rights. Our group has undergone significant changes in recent times. For instance, there has been a reduction in discrimination and untouchability. During today’s discussion on women’s rights, we had the opportunity to learn many things. We urge the WAWCAS Program to continue providing various activities aimed at empowering and uplifting women in the future.

Thank you.

March 2024

Namaskar to all of you who are readers of my blog. I hope you enjoy reading my experiences and learnings. Today Nara Bahadur (our trainer) started with a game. First of all, we divided us into two groups; one group in one line looking at the other group also in a line. So, we could see each other’s faces.  Then Nar Bahadur wrote a number on a Meta card after putting it on the ground. He asked us what was written on the card. One group said 6 while the other said 9. Then there was a discussion for a while about which group was right.

Nara Bahadur asked us, how we felt after the game, and then he Bahadur said both groups were right, and that we today should discuss “Conflict Management”.

We discussed how conflicts starts and everyone shared their opinion. The points were as follows:

The habit of talking more and hearing less. Not appreciating other’s views and ideas, taking oneself as the superior one, bringing unwanted discussion and using it to express anger, chaos, disagreement, and lack of security when discrimination occurs in the group just because of the low cast.

While discussions were going on, I was thinking a lot about what was being said and recalling being a Dalit woman and how people are treating me.  During the discussion, I learned how conflict starts. Later on, Nara Bahadur discussed that conflicts can be within oneself. Sometimes we are in a dilemma about what to do and what not to do. Most conflicts happen in our family and society due to differences in our thinking. Whenever we hear the word “conflict” then we think it is a negative term. IBT (Issue Based training) changes our thinking, which can be positive as well because if conflicts never take place then we will not change our thinking style. We will be the same as before and therefore to change our situations we also need to have conflicts. During IBT, I learnt that we should respect other’s feelings and ideas. We shouldn’t vent our anger unnecessarily to others.  Moreover, unequal distribution of opportunities and resources can lead to conflicts. But the most important thing is that we can reduce conflicts by careful communication. Some people can also act as mediators for people or communities having conflicts.

If we are having any kind of dispute or misunderstandings with others, then we have to solve it by talking with them. After the IBT, I will always respect other’s ideas and feelings. If I have any kind of misunderstanding or dispute, then I will take care to be calm in the situation and listen to others also.

February 2024

This time during business training Nara Bahadur discussed how to do marketing and that this part is very important. Especially in our area, the marketplaces are far away and therefore we should plan for when to sell our goats and where.  The next month, my two goats will be ready for sale and therefore we discussed our options. In the discussions, Nara Bahadur told us one proverb: bolne ko pithopani bikcha nabolenoko chamal pani bikdaina (Even the flour of those who speak is sold, even the rice of those who do not speak is not sold ). We laughed and agreed on the meaning of that proverb.

After that, he raised the question: Which eggs are mostly consumed ?  We responded immediately that it is the eggs from the chicken. But why the eggs from the chicken, asked Nara Bahadur. He told us that chickens after laying the egg make a sound:  Kwak….. Kwak…….  That is how they are marketing their eggs! And then we are buying and eating the eggs. For a while, we paused and started the discussions again.

After long discussions, we agreed to develop an action plan:

We agreed to visit ward and municipality offices to support on marketing of our production.

We also agreed to make the same rate for the same productions.

After the training, I feel so good and believe that we can sell our product at a good price.

January 2024

 

I was really happy today because Nara Bahadur visited our home and provided many useful suggestions to improve our business. He always comes with a big smile and I feel comfortable whenever he visits us. My goat farming business is going well because I always follow the suggestions of our technical person regarding cleaning the goat sheds, using homemade remedies, and so on. In our area, many goat businesses have started, and we are discussing how to sell our goats at good prices in the market. Our trainer suggested that we develop a marketing strategy and a plan. This is not only important for me, but also for all the other women who have started goat farming businesses. Nara Bahadur suggests that we communicate with other women and discuss our ideas in other meetings or trainings. In our next meeting, we will work on developing our marketing strategy and plan which will be very helpful for our business.

Personally, I appreciate the visits from our trainers and Technical Assistants as they always help us to move forward.

 

December 2023

When we first learned about PCA, we were all surprised to see where all of our money was going. After completing the training, I shared my newfound knowledge with my husband, and he was also surprised. Through this tool, we were able to understand why we were always in debt and unable to save any money. We realized that we weren’t keeping records of our expenses. This exercise made us think twice before buying new things. We would ask ourselves questions such as, “Is it necessary for our daily life?” and “Will it help make our body healthy?” As a result, my husband has significantly reduced his spending and has stopped drinking alcohol. He also started using a saving box to save money.

Time just flies this month. Our trainer conducted a PCA with us, and this time I was not surprised. I had already started keeping a record and also thinking twice before buying anything. Not only me but my husband is also doing the same thing. When my husband started saving, I felt so good and happy. Honestly, I never thought that my husband would change like that. I think this training is needed for everyone. I wish I could teach this tool to all community members so that they could also save money.

October 2023

During today’s training session, there was a lot of discussion about conducting and keeping records of meetings. Our trainer warmly welcomed us and we discussed saving and repayment collection, as well as mobilizing the collected savings fund. Despite having discussed the topic of record-keeping in our previous seven days’ training sessions, we have not been implementing it in practice.

Therefore, our trainer revisited the topic today to reinforce its importance and encourage us to start implementing it. He divided us into three groups and gave a task to perform a role play as below:

Situation 1:  Incomplete records

Sita Rai owns a small eatery shop but she did not keep a record of her earnings or expenses. One day, she realized that she needed to repay her first installment on the same day. Sita became anxious as she knew she didn’t have any money. She tried to recollect how much money she had received in the previous week and how it was spent.

Situation 2: Credit and no records

Gandhi Thakur has a small furniture shop. She sold a cupboard for 7000 Rs to a customer. When the customer collected the cupboard, he told Gandhi that he did not have all the money at that moment, but he promised to pay at the end of the month. At the end of the month Gandi tried to get her money. The customer told her that he only owed her 6500Rs, and he will not pay her more than that! A very angry discussion between the two persons followed. But Gandhi had no proof that she had sold the cupboard on credit for 7000Rs, and she had to accept the 6500Rs.

Situation 3:  Joined business and incomplete records

Shanti, Tulsa and Sita have decided to start a joined bakery shop. Shanti is dealing with all the money, Tulsa is selling in the shop and Sita is buying the necessary goods from the market. But they don’t keep records properly. How much money did Sita get from Shanti? How much money did they earn from the shop each day was difficult to know, because they did not do record keeping. Tulsa thought they had earned a lot of money, because she was the one who dealt with the customers, and she thought there should be more money in their safe box. Whereas Sita thought that she had bought lots of goods to sell in their bakery shop and cannot understand where all the earnings from these goods were. Then mistrust arose. They almost lost their hope about the business and trust in each other to continue their work. They argued and discussed to convince each other about what the money had been spend on, but they also blamed each other that they had taken money to their pockets.

After each role-play, we had fun-filled discussions and asked questions to identify problems. We learned a lot in a fun environment and committed to proper record keeping.

September 2023

I was eagerly waiting to participate in the IBT-trainings. All the trainings are so meaningful and enjoyable.  When our trainer talked about sanitation, I felt like it’s so simple and I already know everything about cleanliness. During our discussion, I then got to realize that we don’t know much. During the discussion, I realized that personal hygiene is important, and it is also important to make our surroundings clean. We also came to know that we should wash stone grinder after its use which we weren’t doing.  We also discussed the menstruation period. When we heard the word ‘Period’, all of us felt ashamed and we put our head down. But our trainer told us that there is nothing to be ashamed of. It is a natural process. He also said that we must take good care of our hygiene during the period. We should wash our private parts regularly. We felt uncomfortable when the trainer was asking us about this, but he told us that our period is part of our life and nothing to be ashamed of.

If we really want change in our life, then we must change our habits. While our trainer was saying all these things, I remembered my house and surroundings. I felt stupid because I knew my house and surroundings were not clean. I was not following personal hygiene. I was telling myself; I will try to bring change to my behavior, and I will try my best to apply all these things in my life.

The training was an eye-opener for us as usual. Our trainer asked everyone to follow and try to change our lifestyles. I went back home and observed the toilet. I went to every corner of my home. I then decided to apply all the learned things in my life.

Because of this IBT-training, I learned many things and I will implement all these learned things in my daily life. And I hope to learn many more things in the coming days!

Thank you.

September 2023

The 7 Days Training enlightened me in my inner side. It seems like, I have swept my darkness away and know I see lights everywhere inside me.

I never imagined that we could gain such valuable knowledge in just one week of training. Every piece of the content was extremely beneficial, and all the tools proved to be highly effective.

 

Our trainer visited my home a few days later to check up on my business progress. I showed him my goats and promised to follow the business plan.  He saw my shed and suggested to keep the shed dry. He also reminded me to call Sudesh, the senior technical assistant (STA) of Slisha, and he asked me to call him if I got any kind of problem related to the goats. I am so happy that he reminded me that we have the possibility to consult with the TA if we have any problems, which I have not forgotten since.

I believe that all women in communities should receive this type of training, and not just those in need like me. The training I received taught me a lot and helped me change my behavior. It boosted my confidence and eliminated my darkness.

 

August 2023

During one of the home-visit our trainer informed me that another meeting with topics as situational analysis and indicator development would be held on the coming Wednesday at 7 am. I was assuming that had to be the meeting where we discussed the rates of materials. While participating the meeting it was totally different.

During situational analysis meeting our trainer informed us, that before implementing any programs, it is important and urgent to know about the real situation of the group in terms of children’s situation, women’s situation, health’s situation, local resources, and mobilization. We should know where we are now and what our desired situation will be when we finish the WASCAS program. Therefore, he made five groups and asked us to identify the issues. There were many issues we discussed, such as violence; mentally violence, economic violence, social violence, and also physical violence. We also identified many other issues such as many women don’t have marriage certificate, no birth registration of our children, husbands are not supporting, and the fact that we are not aware of available resources.

The identified issues are those changes the group members would like to see in themselves in 6 to 12 months’ time. The issues should be improved separately for women, men, and child’s groups. Therefore, our trainer facilitated to improve our different issues. Based on our training in WAWCAS program we will reduce and improve our issues gradually.

July 2023

After participating the Information Sharing Meeting (ISM) of the WAWCAS Program I was looking forward to start my own business, but our trainer explained that there are many processes and preparations before starting the business. I am so happy that Slisha/WAWCAS have entered our community and that we can start our business soon.  Today, Nabahadur (our trainer) visited my house, and we discussed many topics. He asked many questions such as “how many people are we leaving in the house”, and “how do people perceive us since we are Dalit”.  I don’t know how to share those things, but I shared with him about my worries.

Being a Dalit woman, I am not allowed to enter other so-called high-caste people’s houses. They always treat me as if I am not a human being. This hurts a lot. Therefore, I told Narbahadur about the social and mental violence imposed by the so-called high-caste people in our community. I asked him if this situation can change. Narbahadur responded “Yes, definitely”.  First, I have to think that I need to change those situations from my heart and mind and then try slowly. And we will also discuss those issues in Issue Based Trainings (IBT).

 

After listening to him, I can’t wait for a change to the better. I have started visioning eating together with so-called high-caste people. They treat us differently even though they are also poor like me. But still, they behave as if they are different from me.

I am Saraswoti Sarki and I’m 45 years old. I was born and grew up in a very poor family. I am the oldest daughter, and we are 8 siblings (five younger brothers and two younger sisters). As the oldest daughter, I have had to take care of my younger siblings and work a lot since five years old.

I did not get a chance to go to school. I was cutting grass and collecting firewood instead. And I was sitting in front of the school hours after hours and as a result my mother used to beat and scold me. I got married at the age of 20 and my new struggles starts here even more. I cannot show my anger or unhappiness when I am with my parents. I argue a lot with my parents here the situation is different I always ask the question to the god why he has given me so difficult life. My husband went abroad for work, and he sends some money, but it did not go well. So, he came back from abroad and worked as a construction worker.  We don’t get regular jobs and therefore we are always seeking where we can get work.

While working as a laborer along with others they were discussing the new program named WAWCAS that has come to our village. The program is for empowering women in need. They told me I should be part of the program as it helps the women who are in need. The same day I saw new faces in our village.  They greeted us and introduced themselves.  They also invited me to participate in the meeting, which was going to take place in our village.

I have heard many bad things happening due to finance institutes and cooperatives. Therefore, I was not sure what to do, but I decided to participate in the Information Sharing Meeting (ISM). In the meeting, there were four persons to discuss the program and they explained the WAWCAS program and how we select the members of the group. They also talked about livestock training, agriculture training, child group, and LNGO and I was very impressed. It was beyond my imagination.

 

Dear Readers,

Hi, I am Nar Bahadur Tamang. I have joined Slisha for the WAWCAS programs in  Lamjung district. I am so eager to write the blog of Saraswoti’s ups and downsand she has already committed to give time to me for this purpose. Hence, I would like to thank her.

Nar Bahadur Tamang

LPL

Lamjung