48 WAWCAS women met in Dhulikel for 3 days of training, learning and reflexions.
By Sangeeta Shrestha og Nina Schriver
Women in need are leaving their villages for the first time in their life, going 7 hours to Dhulikel where they stay at a beautiful resort. Do they dare to do that?? Yes, they are eager, and a little scared, it’s a BIG experience. Are they allowed to go by their husbands? No, not always, but they fight for their right also to represent the women’s group they are members of, and bring back hope, new ideas, and a feeling of being a part of a bigger community. Are they used to sleeping in nice hotel rooms, with hot showers and big beds? No. And are they used to getting food served 3 times a day and getting popcorn for snacks? No, definitely not. This is the way WAWCAS creates a fruitful space every year for reflecting, sharing experiences and creating new ideas for the women groups and each individual woman.
Our goal is to help the women to feel dignified and feel that they are important to themselves and their group, and to encourage them to keep on developing their businesses, improving their life conditions and claiming their rights in the family and in the community.
The owner of Dhulikel Village Resort and his staff make the women and the whole WAWCAS team feel like they’re in heaven – as one the women expressed it. And he supports WAWCAS by offering a really good price, which makes it possible for WAWCAS to stay there.
The workshop is full of games as a way of learning and reflecting. Discussions and presentations are given by the women and supported by the trainers. It is indeed difficult to stand up in front of a big group and express yourself, especially on touching issues. A woman who is a little shaky gets up, and a woman very proud and full of courage leaves the stage… it is very important to be able to be in the group as a way of raising your voice in society or family life.This is all to support the women to reflect on their learnings, and the issues that they and other women in the groups are facing, and to learn from each other’s stories and discuss ways to overcome difficult issues.The women made a fair at the workshop where they presented what they are producing and selling. It was so great to see them selling their items, and buying from others. And showing each other how to make, for example, a home temple, as Kanchi shows at the picture.One of many interesting stories was shared by Mira Mishra from Dhamila Kuwa, who shared how her group has taken lead on starting a big cooperative in the area. The cooperative includes six full WAWCAS groups along with part of the members from the remaining three WAWCAS groups in the area, and women who are not in WAWCAS. In total, they are 250 women, and they have registered as a cooperative in the VDC. The merged group makes savings and mobilize loans.
All WAWCAS groups still meet monthly in their original group of 25 women and make savings and give loans. But this joined women’s cooperative is an example of a very innovative WAWCAS women’s action driven by themselves – making them strong because they are large and registered. They want to get more training on accounting and interest calculation, which is fully understandable. Krishna, WAWCAS’s Financial Officer, will train the group during his next monthly visit to Lamjung.
The WAWCAS team is really proud of this improvement driven by WAWCAS women and creating strong women communities.
The workshop was finalized with the women discussing recommendations for improvement of the WAWCAS program e.g. more training of their husbands. This is how WAWCAS works – with a participatory approach to ensure actual ongoing relevance of the training for the women.
Finally the workshop was evaluated. One by one the women gave their vote…and we are so happy, the workshop was evaluated to be very good.Chija and Suk Maya’s experiences
Chija Pariyar and Suk Maya BK ́s travel to Dhulikel from Lamjung to participate in the workshop organized by WAWCAS, was the first time in their life for them to be outside their local area. They have never dreamed that they would get a chance to see Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal.
Chija was sharing with excitement that “while travelling to Kathmandu some of the women slept in the bus, but I even not blinked my eyes. I was looking out the window and it was an amazing experience”. Everything was new for Chija and Suk Maya. The surroundings, the big eating hall and having lots of food served for them, the rooms, the training room, and sleeping far away from home.
Chija is a widow and she shared that everything – her house, her small farm and her small piece of land have been taken during a landslide in August 2015. But with support from WAWCAS team she has managed to reactivate her business. While sharing her story we were all very touched but also very proud to have Chija in our program. She is definitely a woman who can inspire others.
Suk May BK shared her story full of energy and excitement. She has always been dreaming of having a gold chain, but she never thought she would ever get a chance to even touch anything made from gold in her life before becoming a WAWCAS member. Her dream came true. After becoming the WAWCAS member in 2015, she was able to buy a lock of gold from the saving she makes from her business. She was showing her lock of gold while sharing her story. Suk Maya strongly shared that in the Dasin (a big festival) coming up in October, she will buy new golden earrings.