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Thursday, June 21, 2018

Mun Maya, a portrait of confidence

Mun Maya sharing her success with the local women's group.

In a few terrifying moments a massive earthquake killed 9,000 people, injured thousands, shattered millions more lives and reduced remote villages across Nepal to unrecognizable piles of rubble.

Within 24 hours of the disaster, an additional one million people were added to the twenty-five percent of the country’s population living below the poverty line. Mun Maya and her family survived the earthquake, but her home and belongings were reduced to dust and debris.

“Before the earthquake, life was difficult”, says Mun Maya, whose family was poor and without the skills needed to earn an income. Som Bahadur, Mun Maya’s husband, did what he could, toiling as a day labourer when work was available. Their relationship strained and their children hungry, Mun Maya’s family was on the brink of collapse.

“I felt awful because I could not look after my children”, says Mun Maya. “I was ashamed. I had no voice and no way out of poverty”.

HOPE International Development Agency began responding right after the earthquake, providing urgently needed supplies of rice, drinking water, and shelter materials.

Mun Maya and her family are among the families we continue to help today because it is not just a matter of rebuilding a home, but rather, rebuilding a family deeply traumatized by poverty and the earthquake.

After the home rebuilding efforts were completed, the equally important work of helping families, like Mun Maya’s, find a way out of poverty began in earnest.

Mothers, while thankful their homes had been rebuilt, were keenly aware that a rebuilt home cannot in and of itself lift a family out of poverty. Mothers would have to do the work of transforming their families and communities.

Women’s groups were formed to bring a new sense of community, hope, and confidence through mutual support. Mun Maya joined one of the women’s groups because she realized she needed training, literacy skills, family health education, and equally importantly, a way to earn a reliable income. “When I joined the women’s group I wanted to do poultry farming”, says Mun Maya. She requested training and a small loan to start their poultry business, alongside with her husband. The loan she received would be paid back to the group so the money could be loaned out to the next woman. Mun Maya’s poultry business did well. It was profitable within three months and the loan was paid back in six months. Today, Mun Maya continues to expand her business. Recently she purchased a motorbike to transport her poultry to other markets. In addition, she has started raising goats.

Reinvesting the profit from her business is also making it possible to expand into grinding rice and maize and her husband has opened a carpentry shop that makes window frames for the local market. Mun Maya’s three children are now all in school and going hungry is no longer an issue.

“I am confident now”, says Mun Maya. “Even with a small investment, if we work hard we can do great things”.

Life is now much better than it ever was for Mun Maya and her family and the future looks nothing like the past.