SHE IS THE STORY featuring RITA DEULA


She is the story काे यस अङ्कमा कुचिकार रीता देउलाकाे कथा । उहाँले काठमाडौं महानगरपालिकाको २३ नम्बर वडामा विगत ४० वर्षदेखि सरसफाई गर्दै आईरहनु भएको छ । यस कथामा उहाँले काठमाडौंका गल्ली, चोकहरू सफाई गर्दाका सङ्घर्षमय अनुभवहरु सुनाउनु भएको छ ।

 

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| She is the Story featuring SHANTA POUDEL |


शान्ता पौडेल द्वन्द पीडित, एकल महिला, क्यान्सर बिरामी, र उद्यमी हुन् । उनले यस श्रृङखलामा आफ्नो तीन सन्तानहरूलाई हुर्काउदा, राम्रो उच्च शिक्षा अध्यापन गराउदा आफुले गर्नुपरेकाे संर्घषका दिनहरुको स्मरण गर्नुहुन्छ । यो कथा तिनै उर्जावान, संघर्षशील र मिहिनेती एकल अभिभावक शान्ता पौडेलको कथा हो ।

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| She is the Story featuring RAMA PARIYAR |


 

रमा परियार बिगत ९ वर्षदेखि नर्सको भूमिकामा बिरामीहरुको सेवा गर्दै आइरहनुभएको छ । उनले कोभिड १९ को माहामारीको अवधिमा कार्यसम्पादन गर्दा कार्यक्षेत्रमा र परिवारमा भोग्नुभएको चुनौतिहरु र नर्सिङ पेशामा भएका समस्याहरुको विषयमा रहेर आफ्नो कथा सुनाउनु भएको छ । She is the Story को यस अंकमा रमा परियारकाे कथा सुन्नुहोस् ।

 

 

| She is the Story featuring SUNEERA REGMI POUDEL |


उनी एक कथाको (She is the Story) को यस अंकमा सुनिरा रेग्मी पौडेलले आफ्नो कथा सुनाउनु भएको छ । सुनिरा रेग्मी पौडेल नेपालको पहिलो महिला एरोनटिकल ईन्जिनियरको रुपमा परिचित हुनुहुन्छ । यस कथामा उनले आफ्नो बाल्यकालमा पाइलट बन्न बुनेको सपना देखि नेपालको पहिलो महिला एरोनटिकल ईन्जिनियर भएर काम गर्दा भोगेको संघर्षको कथा सुनाउनु भएको छ ।

 

 

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| She is the Story featuring ROSHANI RAI |


She is the Story को यो अंकमा रोशनी राईले आफ्नो कथा सुनाउनु भएको छ । रोशनी राई एक उदयमान बक्सिङ खेलाडीको रुपमा हामी सबै माझ परिचित हुनुहुन्छ । कुनैबेला लाहुरे बन्ने सपना साचेकी रोशनी राईले बक्सिङमा राष्ट्रिय स्तरको प्रतियोगीताहरुमा आफ्नो नाम स्वर्णले कोर्न सफल हुनु भएको छ । यस कथामा उनले आफ्नो बक्सिङ यात्राका साथसाथै सार्वजनिक यातायातमा भोगेको दुर्व्यवहारको विषयमा कुरा गर्नु भएको छ ।

 

Roshani Rai | She is the Story

 

 

| She is the Story featuring PRANIKA KOYU |


उनी एक कथाको (She is the Story) अबको शृङ्खलामा भिडियो कथाहरु समेट्नेछौं । हाम्रो पहिलो कथामा प्रणिका कोयूले आफ्नो कथा सुनाउनु भएको छ । प्रणिका कोयू एक उर्जाशील कवि, फरकधारका लेखक, शोधकर्ता र महिला आन्दोलनका अभियान्ताका रूपमा परिचित हुनुहुन्छ नै । धेरैलाई उनी एक आमा हुनुहुन्छ भन्ने थाहा छैन । यस कथामा उनले आफ्नो छोरा र छोरा हुर्कंदै गरेको समाजको बारेमा कुरा गर्नुहुन्छ । यो कथा उनै संघर्षशील आमा प्रणिका कोयूको हो ।

 

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Do they really fall sick if I touched them? : Anjana Bishankhe

“Don’t come close. If you all touch me – I will fall sick”, said an old granny every time we were playing outside. How will anyone fall sick if I touch? – I always wondered. After a deep contemplation, I started to question myself: Do they really fall sick if I touched them? To find the answers to my questions, I began touching everyone, randomly. Shocked! Like how the old granny had mentioned, no one fell sick. I realized, this was all a big lie.

This stereotyped conservative belief regarding how some people cannot touch other people are deep rooted in our society. I was facing the discrimination that was the reflection of these conservative thoughts; a woman who is Dalit. My father is a shoemaker. If nothing, I definitely wore some shiny leather shoes. On the other hand, my friends wore plastic shoes and I still remember how they used to tease me, making me feel abandoned. When I couldn’t take it anymore, I threw away my leather shoes and wore a pair a plastic shoes. Even then, I was never really loved by my friends. So, I thought I should focus more on my studies. I was a hard working student. But, just to prove how this society works, an example: Although, it was with my dedication and hard work, I came first in my class. People never stopped questioning – “How did she become first?” I knew these questions became apparent only because of the fact that I was a Dalit girl. If there was a Brahmin girl in my place, I knew for sure she would have never faced such questions.

these questions became apparent
only because of the fact that I was a Dalit girl.

I was raised by my aunts and while growing up, I had ambitions. However, as soon as I gave my SLC, my marriage was fixed. I was only 15 then. No one thought it was important to ask me about my marriage, neither people at my home nor the members of the family where I was getting married into. It wasn’t necessary for me to say- yes or no, my decisions were of no value. My only concern was my studies. I was worried whether or not I would be allowed to study after my marriage.

36231_133510986677175_4125445_nIt didn’t matter how I got married; the only good news was that I was able to continue my education after my marriage. I was hopeful. I continued my education and got involved in student union during my college days. Slowly, I started to take responsibilities and work with the women association as well. I had clearly understood that if it’s ever possible to end the gender and caste discrimination, it is only possible through political protests. For generations my community have been facing this discrimination, and I wanted to find a way to release them from this injustice and pain, anyhow.  I became completely active indulging myself fully in the political field as my stand against the disparity done by the then prevalent tyrannical monarchy. As a part of this, I started to work outside of the valley. Amongst everything, I always remember this one time at Makwanpur where we had organized a Combined Feast and Raato (red) Tika Campaign for Single Women. The combined feast program created an awareness and realization amidst the members of the Dalit community that every member should actively participate in politics to ensure their own freedom and secure their basic rights. Non – Dalit communities also became mindful of the fact that the Dalit communities were slowly making a progressive role in political system. With the Raato Tika Campaign for Single Women, I felt that I was doing something for my community. It felt good. Times when I got confused and lost, reading books on Marx and Marxism helped me regain myself and remind me my cause for the fight. As I was moving on, I knew I was changing; I was becoming more active.

1391975_715862028442065_416434586_nMy daughter was born. Besides being a daughter, a student, a daughter-in-law, a wife, a female leader; I was now a mother too. While playing all these roles, I don’t think so I have done a full justification to any of these roles where I feel completely satisfied. I had a huge fear. I doubted whether or not I will be a good mother and my fear proved to be true. My daughter never got the devoted, gentle motherly love. I was so engrossed in politics, I sometimes even forgot that I had a child and I was her mother. I never realized it then but years later, this gap was visible on my daughter’s face. Unfortunately, it was already too late. It took me years to make her understand why I took those steps and why I was away from her. When I got married, I had no clue what love is and how it feels. When I finally understood its meaning, my lover wasn’t with me. My friends told me that my husband was having an extra marital affair. I didn’t believe them. In fact, I wasn’t ready to accept the truth. How long could I possibly run away from the truth anyway? I was broken and it took a long time to heal. I read a lot about Marxism. I had a resolution that I will never let may personal family affairs interfere with my political agenda and I proceeded accordingly. I believe this is one of the reasons why I feel successful about where I am right now, as a political leader. Additionally, I feel happy to have found a partner who supports me on journey to fight injustice. I feel content with how my life is flowing at the moment.

99118570_3683054615056110_4877455171614932992_nFrom being a member of Constitution Assembly to being a member of House of Representatives, even though I find my political journey fairly successful; I think many issues that I raised still have not been addressed. Needless to say, the fight against the system of our government is very evident. But what hurts me the most and makes me sad is the fact that I also have to raise my voice and fight against Brahmanism and patriarchy within the political party to which I dedicated my entire life. How much longer do we have to fight?

Our laws say that everyone should be treated equally, irrespective of their caste and gender. However, this stereotypical beliefs and unhealthy discriminatory practices that the Dalits face every day, being labelled as the – the untouchables, which is deeply rooted in our society is very hard to get rid of. It is a long way to go and I am always ready to fight against these issues.

 

Life with a white cane and a pen : Ashma Aryal

One day during class, my teacher asked, “How many of you are 10 years old? Raise your hands”. I didn’t raise my hands but I was very curious to know why.  It wasn’t only me; my friends were also equally curious. Soon after, our teacher ended our curiosity. She told us that Mahakavi Laxmi Prasad Devkota had written his first poem when he was 10 years old. While she was mentioning that, there were a lot of things going inside my mind. I was only 8 years old and I was asking myself if I too was able to write a poem or not. That evening, after reaching home, I jotted down few words in a piece of paper, and recited, like a poem, to my mother. After hearing, she told me that she really liked it. I was motivated to write more and then slowly, I started to write poems, stories, and essays. My work began to get published in many different children’s magazines. This inspired me to write more.

2Gradually, I was being known for my literature. When I was in school, I had already published my collection of poems and stories. I used to take part in different competitions. In the first competition, I had won the first prize and which motivated me a lot. I would normally win most of the competitions. Also, my teachers and even my mother would usually predict that I would win. Even my friends would assume that I will win the competition that I take part in. Most of the time it was inspiring but gradually I started to feel the pressure to win every competition. Later I realized that it is more important to improve your skill and build your capacity than to win the competitions.

I started to focus on how to improve my skills. I remember ever since I was little, I loved singing and humming songs. It must be because my mother sees me being happy whenever I sing. She had arranged a music class at home. As I started to learn more, I thought it would be nice to share what I had learned so far, thus, I began giving music lessons too.

Along with music, I never stopped studying and writing. Writing became a very important part of my life. Many times when I had no space to express my feelings, it was the only medium where I could vent. Maybe this is why I established an indispensable and spiritual relationship with writing.

I never had any aim in my life, I never functioned that way. That is why, apart from literature and music, I engaged myself in various different fields. My interests and my experiences are in different areas and I never thought that I need to be a master in one particular discipline.

I recall my childhood days when I think about the colorful moments of my life.

I was my mother’s first child and she was really happy. I could hear her talk but my mother was stunned when she found out that I wasn’t able to see her.  I was taken to the hospital, and I was diagnosed with visual impairment. My mother was in extreme shock and it took a while for her to accept my reality.

IMG_5860My mother visited Tilganga hospital many times for my eye treatment. During that course, she saw a huge crowd of people who had vision impairment, and that helped her realize the scene and gradually accept the truth. The only thing that my eyes are capable of differentiating is the brightness and the darkness of day and night. After accepting my truth, my mother started to focus on how to make me more competent and more capable. She also learned how to use Braille. Throughout my learning process, she never allowed my vision impairment to be my weakness. However, because there weren’t any disability-friendly schools for people like me, we were compelled to study in a regular school.

My mother is my ultimate inspiration. It is because of her that at 22 years of age, I feel very independent. It is not only me; my family also feels the same. Earlier, my grandmother used to worry about my marriage. She would think that no one will want to marry me but now she feels that anyone will be ready to marry me.

Even though we were competent, the education system and the fact that the curriculum was not constructed keeping people like me in consideration, we felt that the exam result didn’t justify our capacity.

IMG_5883Though I am visually impaired, I am forced to face more challenges because I am a woman. Our society has basic rudimentary norms and principles which makes it very difficult for me to function on a daily basis. I am not only a woman but a woman with disability. If I reach home a little late or hang out with my friends, my neighbor would sneak peek and make assumptions about me or question my family. I and my mother have faced these questions several times. This is not just because I am visually impaired but more so because I am a woman who is also visually impaired.

Once you are identified as a person with disability, the way people look at you is very different.

I have observed that in our society if you are born disability, you are left for the government to look after, assuming that you are their responsibility. Even in the families, the disability are cramped within the four walls in the name of security. I do feel bad regarding their stereotypical social attitude towards me but more than that I feel really sad for them and their perspectives. I cannot forget all those moments when I cried alone. My mother was always with me during those days to encourage me. My family members and my teachers always supported me on all my decisions.

This is not just because I am visually impaired but more so because I am a woman who is also visually impaired.

IMG_5829While analyzing my previous days, I think it’s my interests and the choices I made that got me where I am today.  I was a good student, and because of that my mother always wanted me to work in an office. Even today, she keeps insisting me to find a job. However, I always explain to her that maybe the job will keep her happy but it will not make me happy. I’ve always loved exploring various fields and learning from them.

While doing what you love, I realized that it is necessary to raise your voice about the issues concerning persons with disability. Hence, I have facilitated many different programs that were organized for disabled children with regard to their psychosocial wellbeing. It takes a lot of effort to convince the parents of  children to bring them to the camp. Despite the challenges I faced, I want to continue doing what I am doing that concerns children with disability. As of now, I am giving them online classes. Today, they are able to recognize the letters and alphabets. Some of them are able to write poems and stories as well. I am really happy to witness them getting better at it. When I hear their stories, it reminds me of my childhood days. It’s not my age but my experiences that have made me mature.

I have no complaints about not being able to live my teen life. My life experiences are my learning and this learning will guide me to live the rest of my life.

IMG_5850

My worst days are strength for me: Sang Doma Sherpa

While remembering my childhood, the memory that is stuck in my head is when I heard a unique, sweet rhythmic beat coming from the narrow streets. I heard it while going to school every day. Every time I hear those strange rhythmic sounds my heart would start dancing.

My ancestral house is in Jiri but my family moved to Sindhupalchowk for business. That’s where I grew up. I was sent to a government school while my brother went to a private school. I would have to walk for an hour while my brother got picked up by a bus every day. I never questioned that impartiality that was done to me rather I was thankful that I was given an opportunity to go to the school unlike other girls from the village. Life, in general, was difficult in the village. At a certain point in my childhood, we moved to Kathmandu for better livelihood possibilities.

I never questioned that impartiality that was done to me rather I was thankful that I was given an opportunity to go to the school

One day I saw a group of boys playing something which produced the same sound I would hear while going to school every day. That was the first time I saw the drums.

2Girls playing musical instruments were rare. In fact, it would be considered bad-omen if women, in particular, do so. Even though there were barely any girls playing musical instruments, I didn’t let that stop me. When all the young teenage boys were forming music bands, I formed a band with the girls I played basketball with. I had no idea about music. But I knew that I wanted to become play the drum, become a drummer. After my 10th grade exams, I started taking drumming lessons. Financially it was very difficult for my mother; she still managed to save some money for my drum classes. Even though I didn’t own a drum at home, I was so passionate about it that I would put pillows in front of me as though they were drums and practice.

In the beginning, we went to learn music to show that girls can also play as boys but later on we became serious about music. After forming our band we were invited to perform at school. They asked the name of our band which we had never thought of it. One of our members, Sushma Ghalan, promptly suggested “Gorkhali Girls Band”. From that day the journey of our band started.

We started performing regularly in musical events. In many places, they would have their instruments for us to play but sometimes we were asked to bring our own instruments and we didn’t have any. So during Tihar, we played Deusi Bhailo in rich people’s neighborhoods to gather money to buy instruments.

Gradually we started getting more opportunities to play music and we started getting better and better at what we did. We were very excited when one time we were invited to play music along with 1974 AD, a pioneer pop band that was one of our sources of inspiration.

Also Watch this: Gorkhali Girls Band performing 1974 AD’s song in a TV show.

Some of my relatives would pass comments to my mother about me playing drums but she would ignore them. My mother was happy to see me happy playing drums and that was more than enough for me. Like my mother, other band member’s parents were also happy about what we were doing. A few years ago, a leading national daily newspaper featured our band. My mother was so happy that she cut out the news piece and framed it. I heard that my other band member’s parents also did the same. It was definitely a proud moment for us, the daughters.

 “What do we do after we get married?”

In 2019 our band was successful to release our second song. Our band was making memories and success stories. But one question always loomed in our heads, “What do we do after we get married?” All of us are getting matured. We might get into some circumstances and need to leave a band but I believe if we are strong enough to stay stick with our vision, then we can manage it even after we get married or even in our fifties.  We are slowly getting responsibility towards our families. And these responsibilities will add more as we get older. We know that we can’t sustain our life only by making music and it’s a bitter truth. We are also aware that at one point we might need to take a break from band and find jobs for a living. But we will try our best to do music along.

4My aim was not to become a drummer. It is a will power that arose while growing up and experiencing gender discrimination. It was my rage against a society that thinks that man can only play music. It was an unintended zeal to do better than boys as I was treated differently for just being a girl. I still ponder about why did my brother had the privilege to go to a decent school and not me? There are deep-rooted inequalities in society and someone has to fight against them and I consider myself to be one. I know it’s not enough but even if it could change like 1 percentage then I’d consider myself successful. The change has to be done here, so since my childhood I never thought of leaving the country. I always wanted to do something in my own country, in my own community.

Now, I’m involved in the organization, named Calls Over Ridges, which works for the betterment of the education system in Nepal. I can totally see the need for a good education in our country. I remember going to the government school and the quality of education they provide. But I’m thankful to my parents for sending me to the school, at least, while dealing with so many socio-economic hardships. But I want this scene to change for the upcoming generations, especially the girls. Together with music and advocating for better education, I think I can bring some change to improve the education system of government schools.

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My desire to go to school was never fulfilled : Shobha Silwal

It was my dream to study in a school but alas because of when and where I was born it remains a dream. At times, I think if I was trained to use my skills and talent and I would have been a professional today. If I had been given an opportunity, I would have achieved a lot.

I was born into a simple farming family in Nuwakot. I grew up with 6 brothers and 4 sisters in the village. We were a well-to-do family, meaning, we didn’t have difficulties in fulfilling our basic needs. We had property in the village and had to work from dawn till dusk. We couldn’t sit idly as there were a lot of household chores and plenty to do be done on the farm. My mother used to assign work to each of us every day. Some days tending the herd, and other days help out on the farm.

She believed that if girls were educated,
they would elope and run away with boys.

When I was old enough, I found out that my parents weren’t happy when I was born. Normally, babies are born after 9 months, but in my case, I was born after 12 months. Thus, they didn’t find me auspicious. My father had then come to Kathmandu to meet an astrologer and find some solution. Apparently, the astrologer had told my father that I was auspicious and if I were taught how to read and write, I would have a bright future. Influenced by this, my father wanted me to be educated and admitted me to a school. But it didn’t last for too long. In a matter of days of me joining the school, my mother put a stop to it. She believed that if girls were educated, they would elope and run away with boys. I cried for the first couple of days but I had no choice.

IMG_9426While I was grazing the animals, and herding them to areas of good forage, my uncle’s daughters used to go to school. I really wanted to go to school; I even tried to hurt myself with the hope that they would send me. One-day, while preparing animal feed, I tried to burn myself. I still have the burn scars. No matter what I did though, my desire to go to school was never fulfilled.

One day my father brought me to Kathmandu. He had said it was to meet a brother but turned out, he actually got me here to get me married. He introduced me to all my new family members. Considering my father’s decision, I agreed to get married at 18 years.

After my marriage, even though I was free to do things I wanted to, I still couldn’t. I would be busy all-day, farming, and doing chores. My husband was studying then and my father-in-law used to work in a bank. His salary alone was hardly sufficient for my husband’s education. I did a lot of household work at my parent’s home, but I had no idea how to run a household. We had a lot of financial troubles, so I started working outside my home for some extra money. After finishing my household chores, I would do labor for others.

I earned Rs. 3 after working for an entire day.

Five years after my marriage, I gave birth to my eldest son. Soon after he was born, I started cattle farming. It was my uncle who advised me to do cattle farming. Although I was really keen to start cattle farming, I couldn’t because of my financial situation. A few days later, my uncle bought me cows with his own money. I was so happy. My father-in-law helped me sell whatever little milk we got.

IMG_9331I wanted to add more cows but I had no money. I then remembered that my father had once mentioned giving me Rs. 10,000. I went to visit my parents with the hope that they would give me the money. After a lot of crying and explaining, my father finally agreed. I bought cows with that money and started saving. Anything I saved; I began investing in the cattle. From 2 cows to 4 cows, 4 to 6, so on and so forth, I started to set goals and build my own confidence.

After my firstborn, I gave birth to another son and a daughter. I was really happy to give birth to a daughter. I wasn’t able to get an education, solely because I was a daughter. I had promised myself that I would send my daughter to a good school without any discrimination. Those days it wasn’t an easy task to send my 3 children to a private school, but I was determined. Our financial situation was so weak that when my son had once asked me for Rs 5 for lunch, I wasn’t even able to give him that money. Even though I wasn’t able to give them enough food, I was very careful about their education. My husband was working at a bank then, but since he was stationed outside of Kathmandu, I never asked him for any money. I managed everything with whatever little money I made.

IMG_9422One of those days, I had heard about some training on agriculture and cattle farming being given to women. I wasn’t able to directly participate in the training, but I got a job to deliver snacks during the training. They were teaching about agriculture and cattle farming when I got there to deliver the food. I would sit there for an hour and listen. The next meeting, I organized at my own house so I could participate and during this meeting, they taught us how women can be independent and how things can be in our favor once we were independent. I got even more confident after this training.

I came to know about the “Aama Samuha” through this training and I also got actively involved in it. Aama Samuha later brought a goat farming program to our village as well and all of us got 2 goats in our name. 4 of my friends who didn’t want goats gave me their goats and I ended up with 10 goats. I was very confident that my financial situation would get better with 4 cows and 10 goats.

However, things never turn out the way we plan. All the goats died the very next day I got them home. All my dreams of being finically independent were shattered. Nevertheless, I didn’t give up. I collected all my friends in the village and started an inquiry. I handed over a written application along with the inquiry report to the Aama Samuha. After the hearing, the Aama Samuha again granted me money to buy 10 goats. Within 2 years, I was successful in returning 10 goats back to the Samuha. Turns out I had a net profit of Rs. 22,000 after returning those 10 goats. With that money, I made a gold ring.

I cannot explain how happy I was that day
when I made that gold ring with my own money.

Along with all this, I had also done some vegetable farming. Because our house and our farm were on the hill, we faced many water-related issues. During monsoon, we had very little vegetables and besides that, I really didn’t know how to transport these vegetables to the bazaar. Fortunately, one of my neighbors taught me how to take the vegetables to the bazaar and sell them. Keeping aside all the bad ones at home, I used to sell good vegetables. After getting home, my elder son would help me with the calculations. Most of the time, there wouldn’t be enough money. Because I was always very weak at math, my son sent me to adult education classes.

I would finish all my chores at home and go to the classes in the evening. After 6 months of learning, it became a lot easier for me to do the calculations. Every time I would sit down to do the calculations with a pen in my hand, it felt as if my long-awaited dream of education had finally come true.

IMG_9412With my savings, I made cow sheds and 3 tunnels. Slowly, I hired helpers to help me with cattle farming and to sell the milk. Now I have 11 cows. Apart from cattle farming, vegetable farming is also doing good. I am no longer a farmer; I am a businesswoman. I pay 25,000 rupees every month to each of my helpers. To this day, many women have to explain their earnings to their husbands. But I never have to explain anything.  I can spend or use my money, my way. I am an independent woman.

Nowadays, everyone tells me to stop working and to rest at home but I cannot, my heart doesn’t let me. I want to expand my cattle farming and vegetable farming business even more. Many of us here in Nepal, look for jobs abroad, and leave the country for foreign employment. Instead of working in a foreign land for someone else, it’s wiser to work in your own field. The chances of becoming successful are a lot better.

Look around, explore, and recognize your own opportunities and work hard. Your hard work will definitely pay off.

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