“If we want to change something, we have to start it by changing the way we think. There is nothing in the world which is impossible if we have the right attitude and unity amongst ourselves. This is specially true for community development. In my position as a Field Supervisor for dZi, I discuss these aspects with community members constantly so as to motivate them during our projects. Sometimes, when I am knee-deep in the middle of a project and faced with many practical challenges, I forget to look at things from a bigger picture perspective. I forget that together we can do anything. I forget that however remote a community, if we really want change and are willing to change ourselves, we can achieve great feat.
The past week has been a welcome reminder of just how powerful community unity, fortitude and positive attitude can be during the dZi Youth team trip. Nangi village of Annapurna Rural Municipality in Myagdi district was our destination. This is the home of pioneer social entrepreneur Mahabir Pun where he has engineered many radical social changes.
Everything that we had heard about Nangi was true. I was inspired to see such an active local community. The whole of Nangi population is dedicated to making their village prosperous by themselves. Women were at the forefront of this movement. In 2011, the women of Nangi village established a small handicraft industry called Indreni Handicraft Bags Sweater Shawl Center. They first taught a handful of women how to make little handicrafts and knitted products. As Nangi rose to prominence due to the work of Mahabir Pun nationally, people started coming to Nangi to explore and learn. The handicraft items became a good souvenir for them. So, the women members slowly built up their industry – creating diverse products and now they even process their own paper. In 5 years of its establishment, the center earned about Nrs. 18 lakh (~USD18,000). The profit is primarily used to support in various women’s health related issues. According to founder Ram Maya Pun, they donated Nrs 1 lakh (~USD1000) during construction of a birthing center in the local health post. They give financial support to women during pregnancy and delivery. They also regularly support treatment of women and children.
The women who are running this industry are also the leaders in maintaining and upkeeping the local Magar culture. Like in other parts of Nepal, most of the men folk from every house here has gone abroad for employment. So, the women stepped up. They also run a fortnightly cleaning campaign in the village. It is because of the constant effort and vivacity of these women that Nangi has turned itself into an ideal home-stay village.
I learnt a lot from the women of Nangi. I am so looking forward to making similar contribution in the community where I work. I am more confident because I saw first hand that there is nothing women cannot do if they put a mind to it.”
Written By Mansu Khaling