Barsa Silwal is a 39-year-old widowed mother of two from Chitwan, Nepal. When her husband passed away, she struggled to provide food and shelter for her son and daughter. Her single status left her ostracized in her community, and her husband’s family wouldn’t support her because she is a member of a different caste. As a single woman without a job, education, or any family support, she worried about her future and that of her children.
Barsa began visiting the Rameshwor READ Center, where she used the Center’s library and participated in a number of capacity building trainings for women. The Center’s women’s group encouraged her to join their savings and credit cooperative, and Barsa soon received a loan of $200, which she used to open a grocery shop. After taking a sewing class at the Center, she received another loan to buy sewing machines and open a tailoring shop.
She now earns more than $200 per month from her shops and continues to save $30 per month, a life-changing habit that’s rare in poor communities in Nepal. After receiving free legal advice at the library, she also learned that she was entitled to inherit her late husband’s land.
Because of the READ Center, Barsa can now ensure a prosperous future for herself and her children, who are both now enrolled in a local college. To give back to the community, she leads health trainings where local women look to her as a leader. Barsa credits the Center with her transformation.
“After my husband’s death, I felt I had lost both my hands, but now the library has become my hands,” she said.