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                                                                                                                                                                     Date: 11th Dec, 2015


STEM – Turning Around the Lives of a Whole Family

“I can honestly say that the successes and achievements of this girl have given me more satisfaction than I have experienced in a whole decade of working with young people.” 

Resham Lal Shrestha (STEM Project Officer – Financial and Vocational Training Opportunities)

Urmila is 22 years-old and lives with her two brothers and father in Gadariya-2, Khairati, Kailali. Although she used to support her family by working on their small plot of farmland before and after school, the meagre income generated from the family’s farm was not enough to provide for their basic needs. Urmila’s father works as a day labourer and one of her brothers is a traditional rickshaw driver, however in spite of their best efforts to generate income, before Urmila started contributing following her involvement in STEM, the family’s rice would only last for six months.

Urmila, whose family live in a small mud home on unregistered land, lost her mother one and half years ago following a long period of paralysis. When her mother became ill, Urmila who was studying in grade 10 at the time, left school because her father could not afford her education anymore, and because she needed to care for her mother. The family borrowed NRs 250,000 (1,666 GBP) from a local loan merchant and invested all they had in paying for her mother’s treatment. Whilst the treatments were not successful and she lost her mother, the family was left with a large debt. Urmila was worried repaying the loan and so started to work as a brick porter where she earned 150 to 200 NPR a day (1GBP). With a considerable debt and no concrete means of paying it back, the future looked bleak for the family.       

When STEM Social Mobiliser - Govinda – met Urmila he suggested that she apply for Auto Rickshaw Driving training and put her in touch with STEM Project Officer, Resham, to arrange her inclusion on the training provided by SDP (Skill Development Programme), and funded by the Asian Development Bank and the Government of Nepal. After 3 months of training, in September 2015, Urmila applied for a GTF loan, was successful, and received 250,000 NPR (1,666 GBP) to purchase an auto rickshaw. Since September 2015, Urmila has been driving her new auto rickshaw from early morning to evening and earns NRs 1,500 (10 GBP) every day. In two months, she has saved NRs 45,000 (300 GBP) in her bank account. She pays her GTF loan repayments on time and is also able to meet her family’s basic needs with the money she earns. Urmila is also paying for her younger brother’s Grade 12 education. Urmila plans to pay her GTF loan off soon and then wants to purchase another Auto Rickshaw for her younger brother too. Urmila told Resham “I was living at home with an incomplete education, working as a labourer for 200 rupees a day. I was frustrated and wanted to learn some skills. The Auto Rickshaw Driving training, the GTF loan and the support I have got in these past months has changed my life. Now I earn NRs 1500 a day. I’m self-reliant, and I can support my whole family.” 

When sending this case study to STEM PM, Resham (STEM PO – Financial and Vocational Opportunities) whose career has been spent working in VT with Tharu and Dalit youth said “I have faced many difficulties finding girls for Auto Rickshaw Training as it is not a typically traditional vocation for girls, then I had to arrange and negotiate a safe and decent hostel for them, and deal with auto rickshaw vendors and get all the required documents from municipality offices and Department of Transport to support these girls in moving forward with their goals. I can honestly say that the successes and achievements of this girl have given me more satisfaction than I have experienced in a whole decade of working with young people.” 

The STEM Programme (Supporting the Education of Marginalised Girls in Kailali) is a 1.7 million DFID funded programme that works with around 8,000 in-school girls between grades 6 and 10, and out-of-school girls who dropped out during the same school years. The programme activities include: campaigning to promote girls’ education; training school teachers, school management personnel and parents; upgrading school infrastructures; offering vocational training and business start-up loans; using clean energy technology to impact on study time; delivering critical academic support, life skills and sexual and reproductive health training to girls; and providing training and employment opportunities to help girls transition from school into employment. The project began in January 2014 and will close out in August 2016.


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