Rukmini Foundation celebrated International Women’s Day 2018 (IWD18) in two different rural communities in Nepal with the goal of spreading awareness against Child Marriage, Substance Abuse and Violence Against Women. The two villages where we celebrated this day was in Rakash Khola and Bhandarkharka, Chhaimale. We used a creative way to talk about these serious issues through some theater, singing, dancing and interaction with women leaders in the local community.

The community watched the plays and also came out to support girls and women’s rights

One of our own leaders, Lalita Didi prepared three beautiful plays that talked about the the themes of :

  • Eliminating Child Marriage
  • Eliminating Violence Against Women
  • Reducing Substance Abuse
  • Improving Nutritional Health and Wellness

These plays were brought to life and acted on by foundation leaders and mentors, Lalita, Sabina, Pramila, Pooja and myself. 

I acted along with mentor Puja (right) a play to help the community understand the issues we wanted to talk about.

The first drama dealt with the important topic of Eliminating Child Marriage. The play tells a story about young Sabina who is motivated to marry at an earlier age to escape the alcoholism and violence in her home. She refused future study to get married and hoped to go to the city hoping for a secure and safe life than the one she had at home. In this captivating drama, Pooja, a friend of Sabina tells her about life and struggles of another woman who married young to escape her home life. By the end of the drama, Pooja convinces Sabina that education and skill are both required for an independent and good life. Marriage is not the solution.

I acted in another play with Sabina, a foundation mentor

The second play written by Ms. Lalita Lamichhane revolved around the themes of Gender Based Violence, Substance Abuse and Nutritional Importance. Ms Usha Adhikari acting as a Mother and Ms Sabina Bisunkhe as a School Girl. In this drama, Sabaina comes home from school with an empty stomach. Her mother gives her some ready to drink alcohol, which was easier for her to make instead of preparing a proper meal. Sabina, in this play convinces her mother that alcohol kills people and causes a lot of problem in the family. She encourages her mother to prepare nutritious food like rice, bread, porridge, vegetables etc. Such things will help people for physical and mental development.

Lalita Didi wrote these plays, but also acted in them.

In the third drama, which focused on the impact of Alcohol Abuse , where Pramila acted as an alcoholic father, I acted as the mother and Pooja as our school going daughter. This play revolved around the life of this small family where the father stayed at home getting drunk while the mother worked in a nearby village and the daughter attended the local school. The drunk father is violent and blames his wife and daughter for staying out, away from home, and often beats them. Frustrated with her situation, the daughter does not want to continue her studies. Her mother convinces her to continue her studies because education is the only way out of such a life. The play concludes with the daughter committing to her studies to strive for a better life.

Pramila acted very well as the alcoholic and abusive father.

The Foundation team visited the Rakash Khola village and met with Mr. Pushkal Gole Tamang and Ms. Manju Tamang. Ms. Manju Tamang took the initiative to organize the participation of the local women for the Women’s Day Celebration. The members of Mom’s Club and the Rukmini Foundation Scholars all participated in bringing to life the three plays written by Lalita Didi. It was great to see a nice attendance by the community for something new like this. While the plays were received well by the community, we know that there is a lot of work to do to tackle these issues. Issues like Child Marriage is a very common phenomenon in many local communities, and we hope to conduct more programs like this where we can talk about the harm that child marriage can do to girls, families and the community. 

As Ms Lalita’s plays portrayed, alcohol abuse has become a very big issues, which is playing a major role in pushing teenager girls towards early marriage and away from education. The reason for this is twofold. In one way, the cost of buying alcohol to support this habit takes money away from the family, which could help keep daughters in school. In another way, alcohol abuse often leads to a bad environment in the house so that kids, especially girls feel that leaving the household is the only way to avoid such a family life. These are 2 of the main reasons why we wanted to highlight the negative impact of alcohol abuse, and how it affects girls and women negatively.

Despite the seriousness of the issues, we knew that we had to make the events entertaining to get the community to participate. In Bhandarkharka, Chhaimale, we had accompanying dance and musical shows along with the three plays written by Lalita Didi. One of our scholars, Anu Shrestha did a beautiful dance and other scholars sang a song written by our own Mr. Kedar Nath Acharya in celebration of Women’s Day.

After the performances, Scholar Roshani Rumba’s mother, Sanu Kanchi Rumba, said that the drama reminded her of her own past life. She shared that she used to be a victim of violence at the hands of her alcoholic husband. She says things have changed for her since her husband stopped abusing alcohol. However, many similar cases still exists in the community and many women suffer violence at home.

Lastly, Ms. Rammaya Tamang, a leader in the local community shared her story of inspiration. She said that education is the main requirement for success. She talked about how she was a  dropout student who later joined the women’s school in Pharping and graduated from high school. After that, she received a training in agriculture and is now successfully running her agriculture based business in her community.

Ms. Tamang’s story of success with the help of education was a great way to close out the program and it was a big inspiration for the girls attending the celebration as well as all of the other women who took part in the celebration of International Women’s Day. We know that there are positive stories like that of Ms. Tamang, but we also know that we need to make much more progress in order to have a equitable society for all in Nepal.

Usha

Mr Ram Krishna, “The plays were successful to demonstrate the present condition of this society. Such programs will help to sensitize community people and discourage early child marriage, habit of alcohol drinking and encourage children for their study”

Ram Krishna

I am one of the victim of Early Child marriage, it creates lots of mental and physical problem in our life, we should eliminate the early child marriage.

Kabita Waiba

About Usha Adhikari

Usha has a leadership role with the foundation and manages the efforts of the Didis, volunteers, and other support staff in Nepal. With a Masters in Sociology and Anthropology and training in Administration and Finance, Usha brings with her a valuable skill in numbers and a unique perspective of society. She is in charge of both the operations and the finance in Nepal, and is responsible for ensuring proper Accounting while dealing with daily operations. Usha also works closely with the Chair of the Nepal Team Committee to ensure that the Board is kept updated on key activities on the ground. Usha’s hard work and her dedication to Rukmini’s mission in empowering girls makes her is a true role model for not just our Rukmini Scholars but our staff and mentors.

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