The Janamaitri Saving and Credit Cooperatives Limited, in the Panuati Municipality (12 wards) of Kavre, started with 27 members and now have 2992, with 1506 men and 1484 women. Their mission is to “provide quality financial services to the community adopting appropriate means of modern technologies to uplift their socio, eco and cultural life standard” with the objective to ensure economic, social and cultural prosperity of community members. An organisation HLF can and has easily found plenty of reason to work with, and our visit has cemented this relationship!
They already have 17 Women’s Groups with 317 members. Their objective is to support these women with savings and credit, economic promotion, leadership development and social welfare. We had already begun our programme with them for agricultural support in crop growing with two of these groups and it was a real privilege to meet them all for the first time and share their passion and support for women empowerment.
As we met in one of their branches, outside the weather was wild, with heavy rain, thunder, and lightening! Thankfully it had passed by the time we headed back to our jeep for the short, but intense, ride up to the first village. Honestly, how do they deal with these roads on a daily basis!
We were greeted at the community with flowers grown from their gardens. The scarves represent appreciation and blessings for their visitors.
These brightly dressed and beautiful women with their gorgeous tamariki (children), who have been given an opportunity and are making the absolute most of it. I love the bright clothes of the Nepali women, no matter where she lives and under what conditions, she’s wearing bright beautiful clothes, and these women were gorgeous against the grey rainy day.
As we walked further up the hill to see their plots, carved into the steep luscious soil but barely accessible mountainside, we passed a huge crop of turmeric. All I could think was just WOW – for the crop they had grown and the sight of their terraced crops in this steep rural mountainside – what work it had taken to do this. It was such a great time, the enjoyment we had with the cooperative team (and these women) who were strangers only a few minutes earlier, now friends sharing a common bond to help others, and doing so with grace and humour.
As we headed to the next community, the higher we got (even with the awesome driver we had), it was hard not to feel trepidation, on scary roads even under normal conditions, let alone the rain and mud making them incredible slip hazards! We were travelling up to 2,600m, and it was like it had snowed, the huge hailstones were evidence of the storm we’d heard earlier. I have to say, I was thankful when it became too dangerous to drive, and we had to walk the final way to the next community. Another moment for me of that feeling (out of many). I’m just passing through – yet this is where these women, children, and men live.
I loved the gems of information they got from Prabin on his visits. In the past, they only got minimal new seedlings from propagation, but now they get up to 20! Prabin has a way of teaching information to all our WEP women so that they understand and thrive. He is such a kind and gentle soul.
The feeling of being made to feel so welcome visiting the communities is hard to describe. I love that they all live their religion and I always feel a real connection to that when I’m there.
What really struck me about meeting and spending the day with these wonderful Board members of the Cooperative was that in such a patriarchal society such as Nepal, they understood the disadvantages women had in their country and they were doing all they can to support and empower women in their municipality and I look forward to strengthening our relationship with them.