I Want to Move Forward in My Life – Sunita Thapa’s Story
The Jeep drops us off in the central square of the village of Ghushel. From there, we start to walk towards a house we can see higher afar. We are deep in the middle of the most beautiful Nepalese countryside. At times, the narrow path goes perilously close to a steep gorge; we cannot afford to take even the smallest misstep. There is no other road to the house.
After going for about 45 minutes, we arrive at the house, where our hostess Sunita Thapa gives us a hearty welcome. The mother-in-law and a few village women are also bustling around the yard. The children, a 15-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl, are still in school at the village centre; the husband is at the market buying goods for a new house.
– We’re building a new house up there, explains Sunita Thapa, gesturing towards the mountain top.
Even higher than this, I wonder to myself in surprise.
Sunita Thapa is one of the members of a cooperative women’s group supported by Women’s Bank. She got married when she was 15 years old and ever since has been living in this dwelling far from the village centre. The holding cultivates mustard, maize, cauliflower, and green vegetables. These are taken to the village by foot and then they are transported collectively to be sold at the market in a nearby city.
In addition to cultivated patches, the holding has five water buffaloes that provide milk to take to the village to sell further. There is work to be done from early morning until late evening with hardly any free moments in between.
Despite the hard journey, Sunita goes to the village every other day. Being the secretary of the village cooperative, her duties include not only participating in meetings once a month, but also preparing the meetings, planning trainings arranged by the cooperative, and supporting other village women who are in a position of even greater vulnerability than she is.
Despite her busy life that seems so hard, Sunita thinks she is lucky.
– As a member of the cooperative, I am bolder and more independent than before, she says.
– The women’s group has had a major impact on my life. I have learned many things and no longer am I as dependent on my husband as I have been before. Through the cooperative, we can save and loan money for ourselves, create our own solutions, and invest in our own businesses.
Sunita’s dream is to become one of the most successful women in the cooperative and move forward in life, thus guaranteeing her children a better and safer future.
– I want to expand my cultivations and continue to participate in the work for women’s benefit, she says.
– Women are capable doing the same things as men, but in order to do so, we need each other. That is why being in the group is important to me.
Text: Tiina Toivakka, Photos: Maria Miklas