Namaste! I am Dilmaya Pahari. I live in Badhikhel with my husband and two children; a daughter and a son. I work with my husband in bamboo furniture business. My father-in-law started this business and later passed on the skills to my husband. Eventually, he passed on the skills to me after our marriage and currently we work together.
We lost our house in the last earthquake and had to live under the open sky for several days. I grew impatient as I had nowhere to go at that time. A friend in the village told me about Women Friendly Space (WFS). I hadn’t heard about HomeNet Nepal or ActionAid Nepal until then. I denied joining WFS at first because I thought it was just a waste of time, but later she succeeded in convincing me anyhow. On my first day at the WFS, we participated in a recreational activity and I really enjoyed the session. There was a friendly environment for our children to play as well and we were also provided with health facilities. I became attracted towards WFS in this way and gradually became attached to the group.
I used to be a different person before I joined WFS. I wasn’t much friendly in the community and frequently quarreled with everyone as I had a bad temper. I even used to quarrel with my husband in small issues and often hit my children. In one of the sessions at the WFS, we discussed about the right way to treat our children for their sound psychological development. I also realised the importance of having a positive attitude in order to make ourselves and our family happy. We also discussed about the right way to treat our family These days, I control my anger as far as possible and I treat my husband and my children properly. We are much happier than we used to be before. WFS has made me a better person. My parents never taught me these little things about life which WFS did. I have learnt through WFS that in order to improve our family and community, we need to bring that improvement in us first. In this aspect, I consider WFS as my parent!
Another thing about WFS that really touched my heart is the value of work of women. Unpaid Care Work (UCW) was often discussed in the group. A woman spends all her time and energy upon her family and has to do all the household chores all alone. And she never gets the recognition that she deserves for her dedication. I never thought it from this perspective before this discussion about UCW.
I always worked as much as my husband did regarding our furniture business, actually even more because I had to do the household chores in addition. But I was never valued nor recognised for my work. I wouldn’t even have my share of the earning we made working together. When I learned about this in the WFS, I came back home and discussed about it with my husband. I told him that I wouldn’t put all my efforts upon working if I do not get any recognition for those efforts. His behavior has changed on this regard after that and he has even purchased me life insurance policy. These days he even cooks for me when I am tired after the long day of work.
I also got to know about the Community Reconstruction Committee (CRC) through WFS and now am a member of the committee. During one of the meetings of the CRC, we discussed about the various disaster risks in our community and earthquake was one of them. We also discussed about how we could reduce/minimize the effects of the earthquake. From the discussions, I learned the importance of a disaster-resilient house for our own safety. I have been persuading my husband to approve the drawing of the house before we build it so that we would be safe from the aftermath of the disaster and I even deliver this message to the other people in my community.
We also get to know about the opportunities of skill development in the WFS. I didn’t usually participate in trainings before because they made me write my name which I was scared of. I wasn’t confident about writing my name as I am not educated. I was always a step behind for that reason. In addition to that, I always thought that trainings were only for the literate people. However, the facilitators in the WFS motivated me to participate in the Micro-enterprise training facilitated by ActionAid Nepal. I felt really happy to realise that even the illiterate people could participate in the training.
In the Micro-enterprise training, I learned that purchasing the raw materials in a large quantity saves us much cost than purchasing them in less number. Before that, I didn’t even know what a raw material was! Since we purchase more raw materials these days, we produce more furniture than the ordered number and we don’t have a lot of work- load when the delivery date is near. I learned through the training that all these things fall under stock management. Besides that, I have also become more organised regarding my work after the training and I am more careful about keeping all the tools safely.
The training gave us a new approach to run our business and we have been able to make a good income than before. Our earning used to be only about 10-15 thousand per month, while now we earn about 20-40 thousand. We even have been able to provide employment opportunity to few people when we have to finish a large order.
After learning about the cost-effective approach of business from the training, we have been able to make a lot of profit than before. We are able to provide all the educational needs for our children which is a huge achievement for us.
Apart from that, it always bothered me that I was uneducated and that I never would get a chance to hold a job in the office. Carrying a fancy bag and heading towards an office was my biggest dream. But after attending the training, I have realised that getting a job isn’t the greatest thing of all, but developing the skill we already have is even greater if we could work on it properly. Having a business of your own and being able to provide employment opportunities for others would definitely feel much better than having to work as an employee for others. I learnt this important lesson through WFS and the Micro Enterprise training. I am happy that this learning actually came into action.
I am glad that I participated in the training and decided to give continuity to this business. Now I don’t have to ask for money with my husband anymore. That gives me a sense of independency and I am proud of it. I get to keep my part of the earning on my own and save it in the saving group! I have even started to save money for the bright future of my children.
All these things have made me realise how unaware I was before. But I honestly tell you that WFS has transformed me into a different person. Even my friends compliment me for this change and I am proud of this change in me!