ASHA Nepal

To improve the health, livelihood, education and socioeconomic status of the children and the community as a whole through: sustainable management of resources; capacity building for groups and individuals; institutionalization and advocacy for sustainable agriculture, food security, and social development.
Nov 16, 2009

Learning About Seed-Saving

During the reported period, 2 newly formed groups (with a total of 36 women) participated in an introduction to sustainable agriculture training and seeds support including a one-day orientation to discuss the importance of sustainable agriculture.

Topics included techniques of planting and harvesting vegetables and crops. ASHA also took the opportunity to distribute a variety of seeds to the participants. Staff provided, and continues to provide, regular technical assistance to the groups, specifically to support seed-saving methods.

36 women are now growing crops such as pumpkin, beans, cauliflower, tomato, wheat millet, chilies, cabbage, radish, and carrot. Thanks to your support! And with more support, ASHA can reach even more women, and more families in this region of Nepal.

Jul 2, 2009

Building Cooperatives

Our latest update from ASHA expands on their work written in previous updates. We are happy to report that there are now 5 women’s groups being helped with your support. They hold monthly meetings to discuss issues of money management and other important issues pertaining to health, social matters, and group concerns.

ASHA staff provides valuable assistance in helping groups to organize and moderate the meetings. The staff has also provides ongoing technical assistance in addition to monitoring the group’s activities (such as seed-saving, planting, preparation of manures, etc.) The groups have improved their collective knowledge and skills regarding conservation, utilization, storage, and management of the seeds. Their capacity for group management and teamwork has been nothing short of impressive. And in a true democratic spirit, the groups have also reformed as part of a yearly process to provide leadership opportunities for all participants.

The monthly collection from group members for the group savings fund, which takes place during the meetings, has continued to be successful tool for savings. One group recently decided to construct a community center that would work double-duty as a place for group meetings and as a collection center to store their produce. With their group’s saving fund, the group members were able to construct 2-room building. The women collected locally available materials such as stone sand, stone, wood, etc. ASHA assisted minimally by providing roofing materials.

With your support, these women’s groups have been able to carry out activities that have enhanced their knowledge and skills and empowered them economically. The women have also been empowered in other ways. As group members, they have reported that they are more valued in the community and their status has improved within the family. With their regular savings, they themselves can make decisions for buying clothes, food, children’s school fees, and other family necessities.

Mar 10, 2009

Lal Maya Tamang & the Kurilo Women’s Society

Lal Maya and her goats.
Lal Maya and her goats.

10 years ago, Lal Maya Tamang says, she could not have imagined her life today, as a respected elder stateswoman of a local women’s group. From her mud brick patio, she points out the view of her rainbow-colored vegetable plot where she grows leafy greens, squash, oranges, and corn.

And there on the hillside below her one-room thatched-roof cottage, she keeps her 4 goats. The first 2 were purchased with a loan she has repaid.

A group of 19 women, the Kurilo Women’s Society, sit on woven mats listening to Lal Maya speak about the importance of savings. Lal Maya proudly hands over her monthly savings to the group’s treasurer, her neighbor, who records the amount in a book: 50 Nepalese Rupees, around 75 cents. This is the average amount they save each month.

Lal Maya, 54, lives with her husband and their 9 year-old son in Nuwakot, an hour’s drive from Kathmandu. She and her husband moved here 10 years ago. Their job was to build retaining walls.

One day the contractor abandoned them owing them months of back pay. They were stranded. They settled by the side of the road, taking other meagerly paying jobs to survive.

But life for Lal Maya is no longer about mere survival. For the last 3 years, Lal Maya and the 19 women in the Kurilo Women’s Society have been providing each other with small loans to invest in income-generating activities.

Standard microfinance institutions usually exclude membership to women over 50, considering them not able-bodied enough. Her son, who was born with severe development delays, is completely dependent on her, as is her husband who was recently blinded by cataracts. Since the loan funds in Lal Maya’s group come completely from group members themselves, they set the rules; women like Lal Maya, who are the sole supporters of their families, are welcome to join.

The Kurilo Women’s Society also participated in ASHA’s sustainable agriculture training that includes free seeds and tree saplings to get members started. Their crop yields have been very good. They eat more nutritious food and sell the excess produce to a group of vendors who travel from Kathmandu. The women have also learned how to naturally preserve their own seeds, saving them costly treks to the city.

This year, the women pooled their money and purchased a plot of land. They requested, and received, a grant from the district council for a crop storage warehouse to facilitate wholesale marketing of their crops.

Lal Maya is longer dependent on an unscrupulous employer. She’s engaged in the community. She has an income, better food, and is better equipped to take care of her family. And with each passing month, she becomes an ever-savvier businesswoman. Lal Maya’s crops are thriving, and so is she.

Give to support groups like Lal Maya’s through March 27, 2009 and your donation will be matched. This year, 2 more groups are set to start their work.