These days, it seems difficult to find good news, well, anywhere. But it’s out there in the world! In this installment of "doing a world of good," we share stories of women who have been lifted out of homelessness, joblessness, and--perhaps most importantly--hopelessness.
For the past few years, front porch has had the incredible opportunity to build a relationship with the Kevin Rohan Memorial Eco Foundation (KRMEF), a community-based educational organization located in the Dakshinkali municipality of Nepal. From garnering scholarship money that keeps children in school to providing employment opportunities and helping families rebuild homes, KRMEF is dedicated to serving the people of their village--and beyond.
This month, we provide a glimpse into a portion of the foundation's work: Families mainly comprised of single mothers with children to support--though there are those who are managing the care of an injured spouse along with earning an income for the household--are able to receive aid through the foundation’s assistance and education programs.
When a dire situations such as these are brought to the foundation’s attention, KRMEF finds a way to help provide food, cooking fuel, medications, and oftentimes, employment. The care and support offered paves the way for families and individuals to integrate more fully into the community, building connections and resilience along the way.
Building upon this (literally), KRMEF has put an enormous effort to provide housing for the most vulnerable members of the community. Simple yet sturdily constructed “bottle houses” dot the village landscape, sheltering the most vulnerable community members.
To date, KRMEF has built 16 homes for inadequately housed or houseless families, with two additional homes nearing completion.
We share these stories as an extension of the KRMEF community to increase visibility into the depth of challenges faced when resources and opportunities are scarce--and to help support KRMEF’s goal of providing housing for these families as well.
Although these women’s faces may be unfamiliar to you, they are all part of our human family.
In April 2015, a devastating earthquake rippled through Nepal and completely destroyed over 600,000 homes, including that of Shanta N.. Shanta, her husband, and their two sons now live in a temporary shelter--constructed of corrugated metal, mud,
and bamboo--that originally housed chickens. The space is cramped, very inadequate and uncomfortable as the temperatures range from being sweltering hot during summertime and extremely cold during the winters.
Shanta has always been a housewife, working occasionally as a daily wage worker during the village’s planting season. Prior to the pandemic, Shanta’s husband was a taxi driver and was the main breadwinner for the family. He managed to bring in just enough income for their basics but with the lockdowns on public transportation, Mohan could no longer do so. Fortunately, he was able to find temporary work at a house construction site.
Not long into this new position, however, he fell from a second floor and suffered a spinal cord injury, resulting in permanent paralysis below his waist. Mohan now required regular medical treatment and care. Between Mohan’s hospital stays, treatments, and medications, the family must find ways to pay medical bills amounting to 30,000NPR annually (about US$235). (Note that a full-time agricultural worker earns an average of 21,400NPR per month, about US$167.)
As for now, Shanta for now is able to manage the money for her husband’s treatment with the support of her neighbors and relatives. Immediately following the accident, KRMEF and the local community helped with medical bills and food packages and has continued to support the family with essentials.
Shanta is worried what the future will bring when she can no longer rely on relatives and community help. Without universal health care or regular employment, she knows it will be difficult to support her family while managing the regular medical bills of her husband. Shanta is very concerned about her and her children’s future without means to pay for their younger son’s school fees or help their elder son continue further education. Shanta did manage to buy the wheelchair for her husband, but with cramped space and lack of suitable ramped surface, there is not much use for a wheelchair in their current shelter.
Anju (Maili) T.
Maili is a single mother in her mid-20s and lives in the village with her 11-year-old daughter. Maili was married to a much older man when she was just 14 years old.
From early on in her marriage, Maili worked as a daily wage worker in a construction site. Her husband struggled with alcoholism and did not support Mali and their young child. Thus it was left to Mali to juggle the demands of being a young mother while working to make ends meet.
In 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic was filtering through Nepal, Mali’s husband died from excessive alcohol consumption--making it even more difficult for Maili to find regular work. KRMEF was able to support Maili and Ansu with food packages during the pandemic, something the two were extremely grateful to receive.
As work became possible again, Maili was offered part-time work at the new school building site. The lifeline that KRMEF has extended Maili has helped keep her little family in basics, but Maili is concerned about her daughter’s future: As the school nears completion, Maili’s income may again be uncertain with no life savings to rely on. Her daughter, Ansu is 11 years old and in Grade 5 at Champadevi Government School near the KRMEF.
Beli is a single mother in her late 30s with three daughters, ages 21 (twins) and 18. Her husband, devastated by poverty’s stresses, committed suicide a year ago, leaving Beli and the children with no savings, income, or means of supporting themselves. When KRMEF learned of their situation, they provided the family with food support and were able to offer Bali and her older daughters consistent work at the building site of KRMEF’s Waldorf-inspired school. Bali and her daughters can now afford to rent a room and provide for themselves. They report being very happy and moving forward in life.
Originally from the Eastern part of Nepal, Bimala has faced lifelong poverty, exacerbated by caring for her mentally ill husband. She has a young daughter and found it very difficult to pay for daughter’s school on top of managing their basic living expenses. Bimala decided to come to Kathmandu to find work and was willing to take any job that she could find. Now living in the local community, Bimala connected with KRMEF and was able to begin receiving food assistance, along with steady, wage-earning work at the foundation. Bimala is beginning to settle in well and hopes to be able to send her daughter to school at the start of the new school year.
When we--collectively--reach out our hands to others, connections are formed and deepened. KRMEF's work illustrates that it truly does take a village to help people rise up. But to move forward, the village must extend beyond borders--clicking on the donate button below will do just that.
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Andy, Mae, & front porch and KRMEF teams
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