Amongst the rice-terraced mountains of southern Nepal, where the roads wind higher and higher into the clouds, our ute rumbles over potholes and past farmers tending to their goats; while others are just visible amongst the maize stalks. With the staff from Tearfund’s local partner, Share and Care Nepal, we are on a mission to reach the women’s action groups set up amongst the villages scattered across this remote district. It’s only accessible in the dry season with a 4WD or on foot, some are able to try their luck with a motorbike.

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A typical road in southern Nepal

We stop at a small wooden house as a herd of goats wander passed us. We are showed to a concrete shelter where our next meeting is arranged with a woman called Chimini*. After talking with the community workers, she began to share her story with me, a dark and painful story far from the rice terraces that surrounded us.

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Chimini got married at the age of 17 as a second wife. Her husband has three children to his first wife and Chimini has two children. Life is incredibly hard, they were born into the lowest caste group in Nepal. There’s a belief that this is destiny, this was their lot in life. Even with her ability to weave carpets, being marginalised and living in this remote location meant it was a struggle to sell her hand-woven carpets for a fair price. Making a living was a daily worry.

Chimini came to hear about opportunities to work abroad, desperate to support her children, she made arrangements to leave Nepal. She went believing she would receive enough wages to send home to support her family, but she only returned with bitter experiences. Chimini, now 32-years-old, is a survivor from exploitation and slavery in the Middle East. She was a domestic worker for a family where she was tortured physically and mentally. Chimini managed to escape, but when she arrived home she had no funds or savings. She started weaving carpet in her small house again but she had no money to invest more in her work. Chimini also continued to experience marginalisation in her community.

Things started to look up when the Share and Care outreach team talked with her and began counselling her through her trauma. She joined the local women’s group in her village, after becoming a member, the others in the group learnt about her struggles. She began to feel the support by other members and they recommended her for the project’s ‘Motivational Basket Fund’ (a revolving loan). Chimini received the loan and bought five baby goats for commercialisation. Now she has eight adult goats ready to sell and she is able to provide food for her family. She still weaves carpet regularly to sell for extra income and her daughter is receiving a scholarship to attend school through Share and Care Nepal’s programme.

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Carpet weaving in progress

Chimini has become the chairperson in her women’s group. Now she is an accepted and a respected leader in the community, she also works to warn others of the dangers when pursuing work abroad. When she took us on a tour of her goat shed and showed us her carpet weaving in progress, the pride in her eyes was evident – she is a walking story of the change that occurs when women get together and support each other in friendship and in business. Her journey from exploitation to a home enterprise and leadership is one that really sticks with me when I think about the power of community, the power of support and what happens when the walls of stigma and marginalisation are broken down.

I am hopeful, like Chimini is, that many other women will experience these opportunities that are possible amongst women’s action groups. It is transforming lives in these remote areas of Nepal.

*Name changed for protection


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For Chimini, freedom and empowerment came through goat farming which enabled her to pursue other ventures like weaving to provide for her family.

Right now, there are women who desperately need our help. With Gift for Life's Good to Goat, you can help people like Chimini find freedom. Would you join us?

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You’ll receive a physical card to give to your loved one. Each card has a picture of the gift, a story of its impact on a family in the developing world, and space to write a personal message to the recipient.

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Mina from Nepal says:

 
quote-marks.png After the training on commercial goat raising, I borrowed from my women’s group and I have 40 goats. I plan to support vulnerable members of my group by selling them goats for a nominal price.