Ramita's Journey: Empowerment Through Family Strengthening Programme

It is a Saturday morning at Kedareshor Dham temple in Nepal.  The religious song is hovering in the background while the front gate of the temple is bustling with the devotees, who have come to offer their worship. In the meantime.  Ramita* (name changed) along with her daughter are busy selling essential Pooja materials to the devotees including flowers, incense sticks, different colours, etc.

“During the weekend, we can earn a good income by selling Pooja materials to the people who come to worship here,” says Ramita, who has her own Pooja shop outside the temple where she sells different Pooja items along with souvenirs. Ramita is often accompanied by her six years old son Rajesh* (name changed) and her eighteen years old daughter Rabina* (name changed) who helps her with selling the Pooja materials.

Rajesh studies in grade I while Rabina is in the last year of her high school.

Ramita from Nepalgunj was just eighteen years old when she got married to her husband. This was supposed to be the beginning of something new and wonderful chapter of her life. Things, however, started becoming far from plain sailing for her.

“My parents were poor so they married me off because they could not feed me. I too agreed to get married hoping I might escape poverty. However, things didn’t turn out to be as expected,” says Ramita.

Ramita’s husband did not have any skills or academic qualifications to get a job. To make matters worse, Ramita and her husband started living separately from her in-laws right after their marriage. As a result, they struggled to make ends meet.

Both Ramita and her husband then started doing daily labor works in the construction sites. However, they were still struggling to meet the household expenses. Around the same time, Ramita got pregnant, and they had a baby within the year and had another baby within two years’ time.

“My dream was to improve our economic condition and secure our children’s future and I was ready to do whatever it takes to achieve them,” says Ramita.

Around that time, Ramita says that she heard about day care centre at the SOS Social Center, which allows working parents like her to leave their children in safe hands while they are out making a living. “I enrolled my children at day care centre which gave me freedom to work and improve my income,” says Ramita.

Ramita further says that the SOS Social Center also help her and other mothers who were in the similar situation by offering a skill development programmes where they receive training and guidance on income generating skills so that they can become financially independent.  “After joining the programmes provided by SOS Social Center, I got to know about Aama Samuha and joined the group.

Aama Samuha is a Nepalese voluntary group formed to make women more independent and create social awareness on gender equality. Women organise group meetings to discuss their problems and support one another. They have also set up a revolving fund where they contribute a certain amount of money every month. Group members in need of financial support can borrow the required sum from the fund.

“After joining Aama Samuha, I started saving the money,” says Ramita.

At the same time, she persuaded her husband to enhance his skills, which eventually worked.  “My husband began to take driving training. After getting his driving license, he worked as a conductor for a while. After sharpening his hand and building up his confidence, he started to drive a small van of others,” says Ramita.

Eventually, Ramita was able to get a loan to send her husband to another country for work. Around the same time, Ramita also gave birth to a baby boy due to which she discontinued her work in the distillery factory.

Fortunately, Ramita learned that SOS Children’s Villages Nepal offers support to people in need, so she visited SOS Children’s Village Surkhet and requested aid to start her own small-scale business. Her request was responded positively and was financially supported under SOS Family Strengthening Programme. With the support from SOS Children’s Village Surkhet, Ramita was about to open her Pooja shop outside Kedareshor Dham temple.

Presently, Ramita is making a stable income and is able to provide for her family. “I was clueless about what to do and what would happen to my children. Today. I can make a profit of around Rs 3000 per day from my business. I am also a member of different saving groups, and I am capable of fulfilling my children’s basic needs. Things have become much easier for me now than before,” says Ramita.