The idea behind LitClub Nepal’s Mom’s Club is to empower mothers, aunts and elder female guardians of the girls of LitClub Nepal. This club is a common platform for these women to share their experiences and also to teach each other. It is a new initiative for the empowerment of women as we know that stories have the power to inspire and teach. Every individual is unique and this club believes that to help these women, we have to explore their uniqueness and strengths. Because women are often isolated from each other because they are busy taking care of their families or working to support the family, we hope that the club will also be a safe space for moms/women with different skillsets to gather together and share their stories with each other and learn from each other. We hope that they will not only share their feelings, but also discuss their problems with each other and find solution in that space.
Foundation Leader and a mother herself, Usha kicks off the program.
After our initial program a few months ago, we organized a two-day program at the Bottle House in Pharping that focused on “Capacity Development” for moms. In total, 20 moms and some Rukmini Foundation staff members took part. The training was facilitated by two inspiring women of Pharping, Ms. Lalita Lamichane and Ms. Balkumari Balami. The training was focused on things that may not be normally considered as important for women from the villages, like developing and enhancing interpersonal, communication, presentation, parental and leadership skills. We also wanted to work on building confidence in public speaking. We believe these skills are important for mothers and women to have a voice in their families and the community.
Lalita Ji is an example of the empowered women in the area where we work where she uses her skills to make a difference in the community. We were honored to have her lead this program along with Balkumari Ji.
The trainers themselves are role models of the community. They both had to drop out of school at one time, but they enrolled in Shikharapur Open School later in life and continued their studies after marriage. Ms. Lamichane is now a social mobilizer and Balkumari Shrestha (Balami) is one of the teachers in Shikharapur Community School. They both are inspiration for Pharping community’s women. It was great to have leaders from our own community because we wanted to show that whatever be the background and situation with continuous effort and dedication anyone even our mothers can achieve what they aspire.
Balkumari Didi is a local leader and role model for women. She finished school after she was married by enrolling in an Open School, and she has stressed the importance of education to her daugher, Rubi. Rubi recently graduated from high school with the highest score in her entire school in the National Exams as well as taking part in a Global robotics competition. Balkumari Ji’s guidance and support is the perfect example of what we want to foster through the Moms Club.
The trainers along with the help of Rukmini Foundation staff came up with a very exciting program, which included:
- Ice breaker game
- Group work
- Singing, dancing etc.
The program was started with an introduction of participants. We introduced the objective of our club and this capacity development program. We also conducted an ice breaker game to help everyone feel comfortable with each other. After that, we did a small survey with the group to find out what they expected from this program and what they wanted to learn from this program. The result of the survey showed that moms wanted to learn how to speak in public with confidence, learn how to communicate in different places and situations and learn how to give proper guidelines to their children.
This session was facilitated by Lalita Lamichane and included moms writing their interests in paper and some moms also showed their talent by dancing and singing. From this session, we were able to know what moms felt confident about and what areas they wanted to increase their confidence level in. This session stressed that moms should have the opportunity to present their skills in the larger society. As part of the session, moms were divided into four groups and requested them to write how they are presenting themselves to their society/community and what opportunities there are for moms. They discussed in groups and wrote down their opinion in chart paper. Four of the moms represented each group to present their findings. They highlighted the following in their presentation:
- Moms and women should be involved in all activities of the society and not just what is considered traditional roles for women
- Moms should develop communication skills so they can interact with people at all levels
- Moms should also develop listening skills, especially to their children because sometimes we have to listen to new ideas if we want to improve
- Moms should share their skills and lessons with other community members
On the topic of listening, one topic that was especially discussed was about corporal punishment of children in homes and even in schools. In a recent training that was done for teachers, an education expert talked about how bad such punishment was for students, and the trainers wanted to highlight that it was also not good for children at home. During this session, the foundation’s Senior Didis, Pramila Gajmer and Sabina Bisunke along with one of the participant moms acted out a drama with the theme of anti-corporal punishment.
Even though everyone had smiles, they were discussing a serious issue of corporal punishment. The act helped to make the point for the audience.
The trainers know that the women who attended this program have very busy lives. Lalita Ji asked each participant about their daily activities, and they all described what their whole day looks like. From their answers, it confirmed that all mothers are very busy in their own work and household activities. Some of the answers were:
- Moms are busy working in agriculture and taking care of livestock
- Moms are busy shopping for the family
- Moms are busy in work like tailoring
After hearing from the moms, Lalita Ji thanked the mothers for all of their work and added that even though they are very busy they should take some time to spend with their children and especially be a part of their education. They need support and guidance from parents, and if the parents are too busy in their own activities the kids may turn to others for that guidance and could lead them to the wrong path. The trainers also shared that parents should create a learning and friendly environment in their homes and that parents should frequently visit their children’s school and should know about their education and daily activities.
The next session was led by Balkumari Ji and it dealt with how moms can present themselves more confidently. While some of the moms understood the topic, most did not know about the importance of speaking in public or presenting ideas to others. Balkumari Ji started by explaining the concept to everyone and she gave some tips to moms about presentation skills. Even though most of these moms may not have to give talks or present topics, it is good for them to feel confident when they share ideas or want to persuade people. The moms seemed to enjoy exploring this new skill.
All of the sessions were interactive, and the one activity that really seemed to make a strong point was when Lalita Ji gave everyone balloons to fill up. After they did that, she asked everyone to poke a hole with a pen point. Filling the balloons took a lot more time and patience, but exploding the balloon was very easy. The idea of this game was to show the mothers that building something or creating something is very hard, but it is much easier to destroy or damage something. Even a small thing like an accident or one mistake can easily destroy something that we have worked hard for. The trainers added that guiding a child is like shaping clay or raw mud, and what shape we give to them they become. If we provide a learning environment to them and nurture them, they can learn. If we are hard on them or ignore them, they will take on a shape that the parents did not want. Being a parent, it is our first duty and responsibility to care and provide proper guidance to our children and an environment where they can grow happy and healthy. The trainers stressed a very important point that children should be taught how to think not what to think.
As we got ready to close out this wonderful program, Nisha Bisunkem the Coordinator of Moms Club and a teacher at the women’s school, thanked all of the participants for taking time of their very busy lives to be a part of it. Before we ended the program, to celebrate the women’s festival of Teej, the participants danced and sang together adding even more joy to our program.
The day turned out to be very successful, and those who attended the program said that they not only felt appreciated and empowered, but also learned and had fun. They all thanked to our foundation for providing such a space where they can learn with fun and share their stories. They also added that they are eagerly waiting for the next session.
Didi, Rukmini Foundation