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Sajita’s Story: Change and Abiding Hope

Kathmandu, Nepal- 20 year-old Sajita is shy and of slight build. She rarely smiles, but today she has much to smile about. She is very proud to be earning an income from her job as an auxiliary nurse midwife in a Kathmandu hospital.

“From August I am saving some of my salary”, she says. “Adding part of September’s salary I plan to send 5000 rupees ($57) to my mother for the Dashain holiday. I know she will be delighted to receive the money, and will tell everybody in the village ‘My daughter has sent me money for Dashain’.”

Sajita’s life might have turned out quite differently if not for her passion, her sisters’ sacrifice, the encouragement of ADWAN’s Nepal staff–and for donations from people like you.

Sajita was born into a poor, illiterate family. As Dalits, her parents had to serve higher castes for only token payments, not leaving them time to tend livestock, or produce enough food to feed their many children. Besides poverty, Sajita had to overcome both gender and caste discrimination.

“My parents wanted sons. So, they went on having children until they got a son. In hope of more sons, I was born. Our brothers were given better food and clothes, allowed to go to school, to play and entertain. But we daughters were treated differently. We had to work with our parents and were not allowed to go to school.”

Her older sisters worked in other people’s fields for money. But when Sajita saw her brother studying, she yearned to read and write, too. Her older sisters pleaded with their father to allow Sajita to go to school, and they paid her school fees.

When her sisters left to marry, the family struggled without their help. This increased the pressure on Sajita to stop school. Overcoming her fear, she tried to ask for a government scholarship, but the school principal only responded: “A Dalit girl is not trying to get too smart, is she?” She received no help, “but,” she says, “I obstinately kept attending the classes.”

Thankfully, ADWAN programs in her village began providing school uniforms and stipends. After Sajita passed the 10th grade exam, the Ambitious Girls Fund enabled her to continue with a nurse-midwife training program.

Sajita’s story shows the great shifts in the lives of Dalits and their communities growing out of the vision of empowerment.

“I have reached the end of the tunnel” says Sajita, “from which I can see tremendous light of hope. With this start in my life, the door has opened to the future. I would like to thank my parents, sisters, ADWAN and sponsors who helped bring me to this success. My success is all of your success.”

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