The hidden power of respect

By Cath Taylor with Nanjara Pun

Published 7 Sep 2022

When we look for the impact of our work with partners in Nepal, we often focus on the material changes – clean water in a village, the ability to earn an income or send children to school. These things are incredibly significant, but there are other equally valuable forms of transformation that are harder to measure and articulate.

For Narjana, who tells her own story here, finally being seen as worthy of investment and friendship is worth a lot. Respect changes lives too.

My name is Nanjara Pun. My house is in Sunchahari village ward no. 4 Zhinja village. I am 52 years old. My family consists of five members, one son, two daughters and one grandchild. I got married at a very young age of 15. My son and daughters are also married. My family lives in a very poor economic condition. We try to make our end meets by working on a small piece of land for crops and vegetables, and by doing other people’s work.

When I was about 9-10 years old, my leg was crippled by fire.  I have always faced difficulty in doing chores due to my disability.  I was also not treated nicely by my husband due to my disability. I endured all the hardship that I could. Meanwhile, about 15 years ago, my husband went to another district in search of work. There was no means of communication back then and I used to believe that he went there to work for the family. I eventually found out that he had married another girl on the grounds that I was disabled. I had no awareness or knowledge of the legal aspect related to marriage.

I had small children to look after and after my husband left me for another women, I was all alone to take care of my children. I had no regular source of income to support my family.

Three and a half years ago, INF started EDUCATE project in my village.

The project formed a group of poor disabled people like me. They worked with the group to provide support in various ways.  I became a member of Laliguras self-help group. The group started meeting twice a month. In the meeting, we discussed the solutions to the small problems that we faced daily and worked together to come up with an action plan for the solution. I liked this method very well.

I got the opportunity to learn many other things as well. There was an activity to help the low income earners through the group. I was chosen by my fellow SHG members. I also received training on how to do business. I later received 20,000/- for my business start-up. With that money I bought two goats and started rearing them. I plan to sell goats in market after the number of goats increases. I have started using the goat manure in my vegetable garden as well. I am supporting my family with that small vegetable garden.

In the group, we discussed various social issues including gender equality, violence against women and disability. Even though I am disabled, I did not know about the disability identity card. I had heard that disabled persons and single women get allowances from the government. But I had no idea how to access it.  When I discussed this matter in the group, it was decided that the group would help me in getting a disability identity card.

INF staff and other group members took the initiative to get me an identity card. After completing all the procedures, I got the disability ID card. That is, after 42 years of being disabled, I got recognition. I have a disability ID card of category C. After getting the identity card, I can get access to the small disability provisions like getting a discount on the travel fair while traveling.

Another change is the way people have started addressing me more than before. In group discussion they talked about not using disrespectful words while addressing people like me. They have started respecting me and they do not use disrespectful words like before. I feel respected among the SGH members and in the community as well.

I would like to thank my group, INF and donors for helping me with the goat support for income along with helping me get disability card ID.