Impact: Producer Stories
Shaiti Tharu, Sujha Traders
24 years old
Saiti, age 24, was sold into domestic slavery through a system of bonded labour known as Kamalari at the age of 10. As a domestic slave she was verbally abused and her masters showed no appreciation for her work. She lived in poor conditions, sleeping on a thin mat, and was only provided minimal clothes and food. She worked long hours from 4 in the morning until midnight. While she was working as a domestic slave, her masters allowed her to receive training for embroidery stitching, but only under the condition that the cost of training be taken directly out of her pay, which was minimal to begin with. When Saiti was 20 years old, she decided to run away and leave her masters, fleeing back to her village Banke, Bajipur. Once she returned to her village and with the support of Friends of Needy Children, she received stitching training, which led to her employment with Sujha Traders. After being hired by Sujha she moved to Kathmandu and began working and living in the accommodation provided by the organization. She has been working with Sujha for the past 4 years now and is very happy. Saiti says that the work environment is very supportive and enjoys the fact that many of the other workers can relate to her story, which provides good emotional support. The encouraging and motivating staff helps her feel like the empowered and independent woman she has always been. She is thankful to have found a place like Sujha and is proud of herself for making significant improvements in her life.
34 years old
Ranjita KC began working at Manushi 18 years ago in the tie-dye department after recovering from an illness that left her unable to finish her education. At the age of 13, Ranjita had to drop out of school due to an illness that left her physically weak with constant diarrhea and skin rashes. Since there was no proper treatment in her village, Baglung, she moved to Kathmandu with her mother and five other siblings. Her parents were divorced so her father stayed in the village with his second wife.
When Ranjita and her family came to Kathmandu they lived with her mother’s sister, who helped them to earn enough money for food and a place to live. Eventually, Ranjita’s mother opened a small grocery store in Kathmandu and her siblings were able to continue their education. While Ranjita’s siblings continued their education, Ranjita received treatment for her illness. Once she was fully treated, she took a 3-year training course in sewing and ultimately found a job with Manushi through the help of her eldest sister.
Now, after 18 years of working with Manushi, Ranjita is healthy and very happy. She married five years ago to a construction contractor and they have two children. Her son suffers from the same illness as she once did, but with the help of the medical allowance and insurance provided by Manushi, she was able to get her son treatment. Ultimately, through her employment and benefits at Manushi, Ranjita has been able to improve her and her family’s livelihood. Ranjita says that Manushi is a very supportive and friendly work environment. When she was pregnant she faced many problems, but she overcame these struggles with the help of the benefits offered at Manushi, which includes a six-month leave and one month extra pay. Also, Ranjita says that since starting at Manushi she has seen significant improvements in her sewing and social skills.
Babu, New SADLE
36 years old
Babu Lal Sharan, age 36, grew up with his brother and sister in Janakpur with his farming parents. His family was financially weak, and they faced a lot of discrimination because they were all affected by leprosy. His father died when he was 2 years old and at the age of 10 Babu was also diagnosed with leprosy, at which point he immediately received treatment. Since Babu and his family were marginalized, poor and suffering from leprosy, his mother struggled to support her three children on her own. Then one day a German man by the name of Ernst Wegreit came into the village and told them that if they went to Kathmandu to receive treatment he would provide them with training and work.
In Kathmandu, his family was given a place to live and leprosy treatment. Sadly, his mother died after a year of coming to Kathmandu, leaving Babu and his siblings on their own. However, they were taken to Nepraev, which later became New SADLE, where they were provided with accommodations and trained in different skills. By the time Babu was 20 years old he had gained two new skills in tailoring and bag stitching. After so many years of working at New SADLE he feels safe and faces no discrimination because everyone is the same and all of the producers have grown into one big family. He married 14 years ago, and now has one daughter, 13 years old, and one son, 7 years old. Through his work at New SADLE he is able to provide his children with an education. Ultimately, Babu finds it hard to imagine what life would be like if it weren’t for New SADLE because he and his family would have faced a lot more sadness and discrimination if they did not receive help and treatment. He says ‘New SADLE has given me the chance to learn new skills and giving me a path for the future’. Now that he is economically empowered his goal is to provide his children with a secure future and hopes to one day own his own house.