Cultivating Communities That Thrive
Women for Peace and Democracy (WPD) – Nepal
Anita stood out. There was a hopelessness about her that made it appear she had simply given up. She had three young children and had been widowed 8 months earlier after 17 years of marriage. She was only 22 and had been married since she was 5. She was not happy to see us. “I have no husband, no home, no job, no land and no money. How can I participate in your training when I can’t even feed my children?”
She posed this question when we first met on a site visit to Nepal in late November of 2012. We were visiting a village called Bindhi near Janakpur on the Terai Plain. The villagers were extremely poor, living in mud houses with rice straw roofs. They were mostly members of the lowest caste in Nepal, the Dalit (though they still refer to themselves as “untouchables.”) On that visit the seeds for our future involvement in Bindhi were sown.
World Accord is a partnership organization, always working with local development partners in the countries where we work, providing them with resources and support. In Nepal, Shobha Shrestha heads up our local partner organization, Women for Peace and Democracy. We were all profoundly moved in Bindhi that day and Shobha decided to assist this women’s group. Three months later, work with the women in Bindhi began. It started with Cornerstone Training on the 12 principles in the framework for change. This effectively takes a group of poor individuals and helps them become a self-governing group that strives to make better lives for themselves and their entire community.
Next, the group received various training workshops to help the members start and run income-generating activities like gardening, raising goats or basket weaving. Part of starting a new group also includes creating a self-administered trust fund for the group; making small loans to help them get started in their micro-enterprises.
After just one year in the program, Anita became a completely changed person, and was barely recognizable. She is now the president of the “Invincible” women’s group of Bindhi. Not only has she participated in all of the training, she is now raising goats, and leads and facilitates training for the women in her group. She is confident and proud of her accomplishments. There is a new light in her eyes and something more – it looks like hope.
- $30 or $60 can teach an unemployed woman how to grow market vegetables, raise goats, or tailor clothing in order to feed her family.
- $250 can supply a heavy duty work bicycle (or tricycle) to a woman to enable transportation of goods to or from markets. It will last for many years and permit a family to earn a better living.
- $8,000 can permit the expansion to a new village that will change the lives of 30-40 women, their families and extended communities.
- $33,000 is the cost of this multi-year program in Nepal, which is benefiting 400 women so they can receive training and can borrow loans towards starting small businesses, and become economically and socially empowered.
It costs about $8,000 per year to start and maintain a program with a new community. This includes administrative and transportation costs as well as the cost of the training workshops that will be received by the program participants. Perhaps, more importantly, it will also include funds for the community-held trust fund that will enable the trainees to get loans to get going with their income generating activities.
It has been proven that making loans to participants and requiring repayment is an effective way of empowering people and giving them the pride of accomplishment without handouts. It is an efficient use of donor dollars too, since the loans are repaid to the community trust funds to be available for other people to use, and the benefit circulates this way for years. Generally, $60 is a sufficient amount to get involved in raising goats or vegetable farming.
We are also looking to provide heavy duty bicycles or tricycles capable of carrying up to 200 kilograms of product to and from markets. These open up many possibilities for income generation, and can be provided for about $250. A portion of this will be paid back to the community trust fund to be used by other community members for years to come.