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Friday, June 29, 2018

Hope is coming for Sancha and family



The fear Sancha felt when the earthquake devastated her village in rural Nepal remains with her today.

During the earthquake she feared for the safety of her children. Today she feels an equally intense fear for their well-being and future.

The earthquake that took the few possessions Sancha and her family owned continues to dominate their lives today, 36 months later. The same is true for tens-of-thousands of Nepalese families who have not yet received the help they need to rebuild their lives.

Chin, Sancha’s husband, toils as a day labourer when work is available. He is often far away from home in search of work as he tries to earn income to feed his family. “It is very difficult because I would love to stay with my family, but I have to leave them and go away for work”, says Chin.

For Sancha, Chin, and their children, poverty is brutally simple. “When we work there is food”, says Chin. “When there is no work there is no food”. Sancha and Chin have a small plot of land on which they grow maize and millet. The harvest usually provides food, albeit in meagre portions, for up to six months. Beyond the challenges associated with not having enough food throughout the year, the situation is made worse by the fact that the nutritional quality of the food they grow and consume is very low.

“I feel worried when I see other people feeding their children and I can’t feed my own”, says Chin. When there is a bit of money, Sancha buys rice. Otherwise the one or two meals they eat each day consist of low-quality maize and millet grown on their small plot of land.

When Sancha needs money to buy food, she is forced to go to the local moneylenders who charge high rates of interest, especially to people like Sancha who live in abject poverty. The moneylenders profit from poverty and the borrowers suffer the consequences as they slip deeper into debt just to put food on their tables.

Sancha and Chin are caught in a cycle of poverty that worsens with each year. The earthquake shattered their confidence and it has not recovered.

There is, however, hope for people like Sancha and her family.

It begins with women’s groups. The groups provide mutual support, literacy training, skills development, micro-loans to help women start income-earning businesses, and most importantly, a feeling of confidence rarely found among women living in poverty in rural Nepal. The opportunities are as varied as the women in the group.

HOPE International Development Agency is supporting new groups for women in Nepal and if recent history is any indication, the groups will produce women that are confident in their ability to improve their lives, feed their families, and send their children to school. Transformation in remote villages devastated by the earthquake begins with women taking their first steps out of poverty by participating in women’s groups.