“I have been gifted with a new insight of viewing the life in totally an optimistic way. I have changed. Irrevocably. Permanently. My soul is richer. My heart that used to be full of despair now is filled with hopes and determination for living a meaningful life. Throughout this journey, SETU has been my milestone and I will be grateful endlessly.”

-Durga Shrestha

SETU Nepal is a non-profit organization working for the welfare of HIV affected mothers and children. As a local partner of ONGD, SETU aims to provide them a dignified and independent life free of discrimination in the society. As a part of the project, SETU conducts five training sessions every year (four for empowerment and income generating and one for micro entrepreneurship), including 14 HIV infected mothers in every session. Those all training participants till date have expressed the positive changes that training has brought in their lives with full bundle of joy which is a major landmark for SETU. Each of them carries their own motivational story and that of Durga Shrestha presented here is a surpassing one.

Durga Shrestha from Makawanpur district is one of the participants of livelihood training that was conducted in 2010 as first batch training program supported by ONGD. She lives with her husband who is also HIV positive and has two children sons. The elder one is studying in grade seven while the HIV infected younger son is supported by SETU for his education in grade 5. After being diagnosed with HIV in 2009 she was broken and depressed with her life during which she got to participate in livelihood training supported by ONGD. Being nostalgic she says “When I had no courage to fight with my situation, it was a miracle for me to participate in livelihood training and I must say it served as a turning point in my life.”

Being invigorated by the training, Durga bought two goats with the seed money provided in the training. With the continuous hardships for one and half year she raised them to four which she sold due to space constraints in rented room. But she still carried the zeal of being self-empowered and then started a tea and snack stall in the bus station of Hetauda. The job was not easy in a rented cart (thela) and she faced hurdles like competition with the existing stalls nearby and also the threat from government police to continue the business in station area. Despite she continued her profession and went on progressing. Admiring her efficient seed money utilization, she was selected for entrepreneurship training in 2015 after which she expanded her stall with the loan provided by adding more food items. She says “The skills and knowledge I learnt in training helped me to carry out my business in a more systematic way otherwise I would not have been able to go this far.” As a result of good profit, she again borrowed the loan after timely payment of previous one. Her hard work paid off and she was awarded as a best entrepreneur of 2015 in the training program of 2016 where she stood as influential women for other participants too. “Now my average daily income is Rs.2000 with monthly saving of around Rs.35000. Now the cart (thela) is my own and I run my business with full pride and satisfaction. I even owe a land worth of 20 lakhs that I bought from my earnings and some loan but no sooner I will pay back the loan too. And I face no obstacles in fulfilling the daily needs and my livelihood is well built today.”

Her motivating transformational journey from a depressed HIV patient to confident and dignified women of the society was a sum up experience of joy and sorrows. She expresses her experiences as “Before training I was very frustrated with life and possessed no courage to fight back. Blaming my husband for the disease and cursing life was all I did but after participating in livelihood training I saw the light at the end of tunnel which guided me to where I am today. I see myself as a successful empowered women and my family which was devastated years ago now is a happy family. My husband is quite supportive now and we do every task in mutual co-operation which has restored all the lost happiness. I am confident enough to deal with every problem on the way with patience and confidence. I decorated my depressed life with never ending hardships and courage which I think is the integral part for a happy life. Courage to live with my held high is the greatest gift I have received from SETU.”

The inauguration of the Vocational Skill Training in Plumbing at Baglung Municipality 1, Ramrekha in Baglung district, Nepal took place on Monday, 11 September, 2017 by the chief guest Mr. Bishnu Prasad Bhusal, newly elected Deputy Coordinator of District Coordination Committee, Baglung.

Baglung is one of the district of Nepal with 268 thousand population and 272 KM far from Kathmandu, Capital City of Nepal.

The training is conducted under VSTEP Project – 019 by DIRDC, renowned local NGO, in support of ONGD-FNEL to increase in household income through enhancing the access of disable, poor and lower educated people in employment opportunities and the promotion of sustainable livelihood by providing training in plumbing.

Now the temporary training centre has a section for theoretical class and another for the practical classes. DIRDC has already selected 26 trainees out of 54 candidates for the batch of September – December 2017. The trainees consisting of 4 deafs and 22 hearing persons.

During the inauguration ceremony, the chief guest Mr.  Bhusal expressed that this training program was the first initiation in Baglung so its importance is high. On behalf of Local Government, he added his commitment to support the training centre for its betterment.

Addressing the ceremony, Mr. Paul Geditz (Board Member of ONGD-FNEL) said that he and his organization is happy to support to start the vocational training in Baglung.

Mr. Jaya Ram Bhari, Chairperson of Baglung Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Mr. Purna Bahadur Upadhyaya, Chief Engineer of Drinking Water and Sanitation Office, Ms. Laxmi Bohara, Executive Member of Baglung Municipality, Ms. Bijaya Gautam, Member of Baseline Survey Team were also expressed their views.

The ceremony was conducted in chairing of Mr. K. B. Ranamagar (DIRDC Chairperson), anchored by Mr. Bhupal Chalise (Secretary)   and welcomed by Mr. Shalik Ram Sharma (Project Manager).  

 

Mandira Sharma, founder of the MANAS association, visited the ONGD FNEL office on 22 August. This visit was an opportunity to follow up the project "Support for children of imprisoned parents". In the first half of 2017, MANAS supported 35 children, 12 in the Home in Kathmandu, and 23 in their communities where they were reintegrated while awaiting the release of their parent(s).

The ONGD-FNEL is partnering since 2015 with Umbrella Organisation Nepal (UON), an organisation that aims to relieve the impact of poverty and war on the children of Nepal through projects which promote education, the integrity of the family unit and community enrichment. 

In 2016, UON supported 131 children and youths through ONGD-FNEL's support. Following is the testimonial of Samjhana Darjee, a 19 years old girl that lives in Pharping. 

What's your name, where do you live, how old are you?

My name is Samjhana and I live in Pharping and I am 19 years old.

How did you come to receive support from Umbrella/ what is your history?"

When I was 6years old my mother died during pregnancy, and my father died 10months later. I went to live in my Uncle’s home with my two older siblings. After a while, my father’s sister brought me to Kathmandu in hope of placing me in a children’s home, and I came to live in a TUF/UON run childcare home, where I received all my basic needs, education, care and health facilities. 

What support does Umbrella provide to you now?

I entered the Next Steps Youth & Education Programme (NSYEP) after completing Grade 10 [Editor's note: students in Grade 10 are approximatively 16 years old, when most children would leave UON childcare homes]. I now receive support for livelihood (accommodation and living expenses) and for the cost of my +2 education [Editor's note: education for 16-18year old youths], and support for medical costs and stationery. Along with this, I have participated in numerous workshops and trainings organized by the Youth Team at Umbrella. Furthermore, I am provided with coaching and mentoring as and when necessary.

How do you think this is currently having an impact on your life?

Each and every support is helpful in different ways. Livelihood support helps me to pay for my daily expenses. Education support is very useful for transforming my life, as without it I would not have been able to continue my studies – if I had not had this opportunity, I would have to have got married already and been forced to live a dependent life. Today, I have the awareness to make good decisions relating to my life and career. Currently I am working as a Primary Teacher which enables me to be financially independent, which is only possible because of the qualification I have.

How do you think this support will help you in your future life?

I have already received a lot and already have proper base for my life ahead. Now, I can earn enough for living and hoping to get another job soon (paying higher) so, that I can continue my study. I am mentally prepared for struggle and dedicated for a positive change. 

What do you want to do when you are older?

I would like to continue my study and attain higher level of qualifications because I think it is very important to achieve what we want in our life. I want to study Bachelor in Business Studies and work in management sector in my country.

Have you started looking for scholarship for further study?

No, I haven’t started to look for but once I finish my study I will start applying for scholarship. 

How do you sum up your life during NSYEP?

I have really grown up a lot during this phase in my life. As I had no one to live with I had to manage everything myself and I was my own guardian. I grew up to be a mature person and I think I am strong enough to face anything in my life now. I was supported in each and every step of my life by Umbrella so, this would not be possible without Umbrella’s support.