Stepping into Hope: Journey from Poverty to Protection

Published: Jul 21, 2023 Reading time: 5 minutes
Stepping into Hope: Journey from Poverty to Protection
© Photo: Nitika Chalise

In a small village nestled amidst the lush green fields of Southern Terai, where scorching heat was common, the blistering sun beat down on the villagers mercilessly. This made it difficult for them to perform their daily tasks.

When the temperature rose and the government announced the heat wave in Terai and people from marginalized communities, including the landless Dalits, were among the most affected. People in Need (PIN), in partnership with Handicap International Nepal and Aasaman Nepal, initiated an Anticipatory Action for Heat Wave project with the support of UKaid and the START FUND Network.

When PIN and its partners reached out to the community for heat wave kit distribution, we met Govinda Musahar, a 40-year-old man with intellectual difficulties from Janakpur. Born into poverty and marginalized as a landless Dalit, Govinda's life was marked by hardship. However, his family, including his father, Aasarfi, and caring sister-in-law, Runu Devi Sada, stood by him with unwavering support.

The family shared a tiny mud house, barely surviving. Govinda's disability posed unique challenges, making dressing and feeding a difficult task. His brothers and father dedicated themselves to seeking treatment, but limited financial resources and inaccessible healthcare facilities made their efforts futile. Despite the obstacles, Runu Devi emerged as a ray of hope, providing tender care and unconditional love to Govinda. She became his lifeline, ensuring he received proper nutrition and medication and engaging in activities that stimulated his mind.

Their lives took an unexpected turn after the heatwave kit distribution. Govinda and his family received heat wave protective gear that included essential items like umbrellas, towels, stainless-steel bottles, ORS, glucose, mosquito nets, and slippers. This gear brought Govinda joy and confidence, protecting him from the scorching heat that once left him vulnerable.

With a beaming smile, Govinda proudly paraded through the village, wearing his newly acquired slippers. His infectious joy touched everyone he encountered, sparking unity and hope within the community. Govinda's father, Aasarfi, found solace in his son's happiness.

"Seeing his happiness as he receives his newly obtained slippers is truly priceless. It's a special moment for him because he's walking in slippers for the first time in his life," Aasarfi exclaimed, a smile adorning his face.

Runu Devi, Govinda's sister-in-law and a ward member of Sahidnagar Municipality, recognized the significance of organizations like PIN in shaping a better future.

PIN's intervention did not stop at providing protective gear. They also established cooling centers and distributed free drinking water, ensuring the entire community of Rautahat, Mahottari, Siraha, and Dhanusha districts could escape the oppressive heat. Besides the installation of free drinking water stations, the project also hired tempo to provide water to anyone in need around the village. Side by side, the awareness messages around heat wave preventive measures are also played in the same tempo.

By collaborating with local governments and engaging volunteers, they created a support system that extended beyond our beneficiaries' immediate circle. The project also set up cooling centers at the government offices so that the local people could rest, take break from heat while they come for government services. The cooling center consists of fan or air conditioning, drinking water and chairs for the general public to relax.

Similarly, PIN met a young woman named Nagina Sada in Mahottari District who faced many challenges in life. She belonged to the landless Dalit community, and carrying out her responsibilities seemed impossible. Her husband worked for daily wages, but they struggled to afford basic necessities for their growing family. Climate change destroyed their once-thriving vegetable garden, leaving them with only salt and rice to survive.

As she held the supplies of rice, daal, eggs, beans, oil, salt, and sugar, tears of gratitude flowed down her cheeks. She understood that these provisions were a lifeline for her unborn child, offering them a chance at a better future beyond their current circumstances.

With each item in her hands, Nagina felt a surge of hope rising within her. These supplies brought light to their darkest days and reminded Nagina that she was not alone in her struggles.

“We are grateful for PIN and its partners' kindness in providing us with Heat Wave Protective Gear and a nutrition top-up. It means a lot to a poor family like us who couldn’t afford anything except rice and lentils”, says Nagina.

Nagina's heart swelled with gratitude as she imagined a future where her child could grow up healthy and strong. These aids were not just supplies; they were an opportunity for a better life and nourishment for their family.

Furthermore, the heatwave protective gear and Nutrition Top-up were provided to the children with disability residing at the Chhaya Aapanga Abhasiya Madhyamik Vidhyalaya – Paroha 5, Rautahat.

“As the Principal of this school, I can't express how glad I am for the special kits and extra food our children got from PIN and its partner. They were so happy! These special kits keep them safe from the heatwave, and the nutritious food makes them strong. We're really thankful towards UKaid, and the START FUND Network for this help. It means a lot for our children to be happy and healthy." - Rajesh Sah

In total, PIN and partners distributed heatwave protective gear to 1610 households and Nutrition Top-up support comprising rice, daal, eggs, beans, oil, salt, and sugar to 200 pregnant and lactating mothers in seven palikas in four districts.

Autor: Nitika Chalise, People in Need, Communication Technical Officer

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