Cheated No Longer
“Before I could read and write, I used to get lost in the market as I could not read the signboards. The shopkeepers used to cheat me on goods and money. But now because of the Adult Literacy classes from Good Neighbour Nepal, I can read, I can write and I can even help my children to learn how to read and write. The shopkeepers can no more cheat me,” says Kalpana Thanet, member of a Self Help Group started by ‘Good Neighbour’ in a poor village in southern Nepal. Kalpana had no opportunity to attend school as a child as her family was poor and even rich families back then usually saw no benefit in educating their girl children.
“Belonging to a group has helped me develop the habit of saving, to manage a group and family” Kalpana adds. Along with other members of her group, Kalpana was trained in mushroom growing and was successful in producing and selling mushrooms. She is encouraged and excited to invest in mushroom production as a source of income for her family.
The Village Development Committee (VDC), where Kalpana lives, in an effort to make the village open defecation free, declared that all members of any household who did not have their own toilet would be denied any facilities being provided by the VDC. The VDC also refused to provide a birth certificate to children born in households without a toilet, meaning those children could not attend school (admission requires a birth certificate) or access other government provision. With support from Good Neighbour Nepal and SIM, each group member in Kalpana’s self help group has now built their own toilet. Kalpana says, “I was so worried that my children’s future would be in danger because we did not have a toilet, but now they can go to school. Now I will not be deprived of facilities provided by the VDC. I did not understand benefit of toilet before and why the VDC wanted us to have one, but I now understand about hygiene and the importance of toilet in acquiring healthy life. Our family will use our toilet properly. Now maybe we will not get sick with diarrhoea all the time.”
Kalpana really values the changes that these opportunities have brought to her life and is determined to make most of them.
SIM’s partner project, ‘Good Neighbour Nepal’ works with many poor communities and families like Kalpana’s. In each area ‘Good Neighbour’ works together with local churches to provide communities with female adult literacy programmes, safe water and toilets, health awareness programmes, HIV prevention, self help groups with revolving saving credit funds and income generation activities.
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