High in the hills of Rolpa District, in INF’s working area of Sunchhahari Rural Municipality, I learn a new expression for the power of unity and cooperation: “Ek thuki sukhi, saya thuki nodi”. Like so many Nepali proverbs, it rings with a simple poetry, pleasing to the ear. Its meaning is earthy and arresting: “If one person spits, it dries up. If one hundred people spit, it flows.”
In Jharbang Village, a low-caste and traditionally marginalised community has begun a journey with INF that will lead their combined efforts to flow together for the common good. The Self Help Group formed by INF has only been in existence for a year but already the truth of the proverb is starting to be seen.
The group has decided to increase the monthly contribution each member makes to the group’s savings from 10 Rupees per month [about 15 cents] to 20 Rupees per month. They plan to use these savings to support each other in times of trouble.
The group has received training on the production of organic pesticide-fertiliser [apart from the cow manure, urine and ash, the ingredients including garlic, chilli and local thistle, would go nicely in a tasty stew] and is preparing to make use of this mixture to protect and improve their crops.
Each member of the group now maintains a kitchen garden [with seeds and training provided by INF], improving health and providing income.
They built a road together.
Several members who left the group early on, sceptical that the project would make a difference, have now returned having seen the results.
The members of the Jharbang Self Help Group are already future planning to form a local cooperative, registered with the government, able to advocate for their community, access services and resources for larger-scale projects like irrigation and major agricultural improvements. These are dreams that would be beyond a single household but, as the community works together, these dreams will become real.
Not only did I learn a wonderful Nepali expression from this community. In their work together I can see that expression working in practice.
INF Australia CEO Ben Thurley is currently in Nepal visiting INF’s projects.
*The EDUCATE project in Rolpa receives support from the Australian Government.