DATE16 April, 2017
If you think you can, you can
Maya Tamang (Name changed), an industrious woman, originally from western Terai, lives in Gaurighat Kathmandu. Her birth place, Nepalgunj is one of the sensitive areas for human trafficking and other crimes because of the open border with India. Most of the people are engaged in agricultural activities. During the off season of agricultural activities, people shift to India for seasonal job.
Tamang was married early of her age at sixteen years old, as she was not able to carry on her further education after the completion of grade five. Though she wanted to study more, but she could not resist the family pressure for marriage. From the very outset of her marriage, life was very miserable for her. Her husband was compelled to go India for employment when their attempt to run shop in their village became failure. For more than ten years, neither her husband returned, nor sent any money for the family. So, she had to face many difficulties in her life. During that period, she worked in the field, where the pay was very less. So, she decided to go to Mumbai, India where her husband was working as Security Guard in a Pomegranate farm. There she discovered that her husband felt sick every now and then. After her suggestion, the couple then decided to return back to Nepal. Later, her husband was diagnosed with HIV and so was the case with her. But her three children’s report was negative. After few months her husband passed away and she decided to come to Kathmandu valley.
After being infected with HIV she came into the contact of one of the Nepalgunj based NGO. She got suggestion to contact Shakti Milan Samaj as she was in the verge of coming to Kathmandu. After she came to the contact of this Organization she realized that she is in the right place as she got sufficient amount of suggestions and support from the Organization which changed her life completely. Since the mission of Shakti Milan Samaj is to facilitate health care and ensure access to resources, human rights of women and children living with HIV/AIDS through advocacy, capacity building, she got ample amount of care and medical support from the Organization. So, the care and support provided by SMS the Organization helped her to live a healthier life. Time to time CD4 count and viral load test helped her to know about her status of health.
With the passage of time financial crisis started to trouble her again. So, after knowing her problem, the Organization helped her and she was placed as a Hostel Warden in Community Care Centre (CCC) for seven years which brought financial relief for her to certain extent. As her family needs were growing with the duration of time, she left the job as she wished to carry on her own Business to fulfill the rising demands of family. Though she left the job but being the base member of Shakti Milan Samaj, she was engaged with this organization in different projects and campaign to fight against HIV and AIDS as a hidden activist. Her contribution is great to decrease social stigma in the infected people.
The objective of Empowering Women and Children against HIV/AIDS (EWCAH) project is to make HIV infected women economically independent by providing them with various kinds of skill development training and the seed money for the operation of Business that helps them to uplift their economic condition, which is linked with their empowerment. Acknowledging her efforts and contribution, Seed money was provided to her as she was planning to do her own Business. So, she started a street shop and after one year she managed to upgrade and expand her Business and now she has shifted her shop to a proper building where she sells vegetables. After, deducting all the expenses she saves around Rs. 4000 per month. Her saving is low these days as she has to pay extra rent for the shop as well as for the room where she is living with her son and daughter-in-law.
After getting support, she has experienced herself being personally transformed from a downtrodden woman to a confident woman. She has worked hard as she has realized that there is nothing called ’Free Lunch’ as such. She believes that “If you think you can, you can” and she is a true example of empowered women. After the death of her husband, she is living with her son and daughter-in-law. She is the only breadwinner of the family as her son is currently unemployed and is planning to go for foreign employment to gulf country. Her daughters have already been married and her daughter-in-law helps her is shop during pick hours.
The people in the society, who are well aware of her being infected by HIV, are also happy seeing her progress in life. They say that it is good to be involved in some income generating activities rather than sitting idle. In the society level, she is getting good support and the positive words from people really inspire her to look forward in her life. Her health condition is also good as she gets check-up time to time. So, from her story it can be said that negative thinking and perception towards People Living with HIV(PLHIV) especially women have somehow changed in comparison to past but still more work is needed to be done.