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Tara’s Story: “Financial literacy training changed my life, forever…”

“There was a point in life when I thought about killing myself because I couldn’t cope with the challenges I was being confronted with. I was poor and living in constant financial insecurity. I had so many difficulties in life. I considered killing myself but then I would think about my small daughter whom I breastfeed. When I looked down at her I became determined to survive, live and accomplish something in my life.” Tara, 20, from Fulbari VDC, Kailali District, Far West Nepal.

Talking about the past brings back many painful memories for Tara: “Four years ago I was studying in grade nine in Janjagriti School in Kailali, but in my society it was considered the right time for me to marry. I was under constant pressure from my family to marry and was forced to quit school. I had no option but marriage so I decided to marry someone I knew rather than a stranger. After marriage I realised that life is not always a bed of roses. I was not working and nor was my husband. We had no income and it was very difficult for us to survive. Then my husband fell ill. I sold all of the gold jewelry that was given to me by my parents to pay for my husband’s treatment.” Then Tara’s daughter provided the inspiration for Tara to set in motion a chain of events that would change the direction of her life, “In my society, parents and in-laws don’t encourage their daughters or daughters-in-law to leave their house, but I decided to go against my in-laws will and enrolled in a tailoring training which was provided in our village. After the training I bought a sewing machine and began stitching clothes on a small scale. This was the first opportunity I received in my life; the second opportunity changed my life, forever.”

“I have realised that if you have the determination and the will, then nothing and no one can stop you.”

“I heard that staff from a project called STEM were in our village to collect information about out-of-school girls to help them with their education. I put my name down and was selected to join the Step Programme. I participated in a financial literacy training of trainers’ course and learnt about household budget management and the importance of saving in life which had a very profound impact on me. I had never realised what saving could do, but after receiving the training I expanded my tailoring business and in the last three months alone I have saved around 40,000 Rs. After the financial literacy training, I delivered two trainings on financial literacy to more than 50 girls at clubs in two different schools; it really increased my confidence. I never thought I could face people like that or speak in public, but the training prepared me well and I was able to deliver both successfully. I received some money for delivering the training and I used it for our household expenses. Everyone sees the changes in me, from a depressed person to a motivated individual who now ‘glows’ and believes in doing something in life. I have realised that if you have the determination and the will, then nothing and no one can stop you.”

“These days even my mother and father-in-law have changed their perception and attitude towards me. They tell me I should focus myself on using my skills and knowledge rather than staying at home and doing household chores. They even take care of my small daughter.”

Tara’s mother-in-law said, “My son is suffering from a long term illness so all we have now is Tara and we are all dependent on her. I used to think that there is no point sending a daughter to a school or providing them training. What is the use in sending your daughters to school when even if they are educated they are limited to the inside of a house? Looking at Tara and the way she has supported the family after my son fell sick, I have realised how important it is to educate our daughters and daughters-in-law.”

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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