Pursuit of Happiness
Laxmi Devi Ramtel, a single poor widowed dalit member out of 14 members of RMG working at Katari-Bahunitar-Barre Rural Road is from Goiya Village of Twasshree-5 of Udayapur. It’s been 18 months of her continuous effort in the road maintenance.
Before, her economic status was not good, but her skilled and laborious nature made her life easy going even on the auspicious occasions like Dasain and Tihar. The situation reverted after the untimely death of her husband and the trouble to survive hit her hard to harder every day. The time for Laxmi was passing slowly. Suddenly, daughter in law of her neighbor, while at neighbor’s house, suggested her to submit an application for the RMG. She was unaware of the official process but a local social and political worker Mr. Kedar Roka supported her and requested Sabitri, Neighbor of Laxmi to assist her in the matter. The time left for the submission was on final day, and hence, on hurry, Laxmi didn’t take food and rushed to VDC Office, a walk of two and half hours, as instructed by Sabitri. But, she forgot the citizenship with her. After a humble request, VDC Secretary extended an early day to submit the application with the necessary citizenship. She went on time and submitted the application. Then, she was selected for the interview and participated with less optimistic but positive vibe. The reasons she explained in front of the interview panel were heart touching. Simply, she explained her current situation being poor uneducated dalit single widowed woman with no support to sustain her life. She told, “I have heard, without any linkage, it is not possible to find a job in such places and the result might not be on my favor as I don’t have powerful backup.”. She was shocked and felt proud when, on tomorrow morning, she found her name in the list of the successful candidates. Then, after a week, we were called for a two-day orientation training. The training was very useful to understand the duties and responsibilities of the work. Similarly, we submitted the required documents to open our bank account and for the identity card. “Immediately after a week we got the bank cheque and identity card.” Said Laxmi and since, they were working regularly. Initially, Laxmi was confused, but the regular instruction, supervision, and monitoring, by the technicians, have helped her to enjoy and accomplished the task successfully. Further, the timely release of the salary to her account added the energy to work. “The salary for the first six months were used on the funeral rituals of my husband, but after, I used the salary to buy a cow and now she has given birth to a calf too.” said Laxmi in happy mood.She added that she is selling the milk and that increased her income too.
Now, she is also using the amount to get interest. Now, her life is running smoothly and she is satisfied of her achievement. “At the beginning, we were a subject of jokes to the villagers, politicians, travelers, drivers.” added Laxmi. She told that the people mocked them telling that the Government had wasted the money employing women in hard maintenance works. But, after couple of months, with their tremendous successful works, everyone highly appreciated and felt the necessary of the workers in other roads too. When we asked Laxmi about the changes the RMG work brought to her life, she replied with a smile and told that the job was all in her critical time with no financial support. She added that before she hardly earns Rs 150 to 250 per day making bamboo chairs. She remembered the past days and told that the hard work, far and competitive markets, and the monopoly of the whole sellers get her always tensed and there was uncertainty of her earning. Now, she is happy to be in a team of RMG. She was excited to share that there is no need to request neighbors for good foods, new clothes, school fees, and medicine charges. Also, she celebrated the occasions like Daishain and Tihar in a good way.
A Sample of Photographs showing before and After status of Rural Road Maintaining through RMG
Road infrastructure have been maintained and employment of local marginal peoples, including, Dalit, women, single woman and HIV Positive women’s it very nice for people like us. Selection procedure is transparent. But this employment is for temporary, she worried about her future after this program.