Helping Sabita to put her life back together

by Sneedha Mainali

Kathmandu

About the Project

We came across a family of 32 years old Sabita and her two children who reside at Swichatar VDC around 7KM from Kalanki, Kathmandu. She is a face/nail painter by profession. She has acquired this skill on her own and has mastered it very well.

She has learned to make her way in life the hard way. She comes from a farming community. Her father left with another woman when she was in her mother’s womb. Her mother did all she could to ensure Sabita and her elder sister Kabita both attended the school. Both went to an all-girl school and finished their School Leaving Certificate (SLC) exams (Grade 10).

Kabita was the house captain at school and good at studies. However after her SLC in 1996 she became ill and slowly started showing signs of mental disability. As the family was struggling to make ends meet, Kabita could not be taken to a good facility to take care of her illness. She is currently at a Mental Rehabilitation center. She is 36 years old as of now.
As Kabita was being taken care of for her disability her mother wanted to ensure Sabita was married. This was mainly due to the taboo of having a disabled person in the house and the likelihood that people would think the whole family would be affected. So she married early in her teens while her colleagues were pursuing their studies and were looking forward to a bright future. Things were looking good during her first month of living with her in-laws. But this was short-lived as it turned out that her spouse was turning into an alcoholic. She did whatever she could. She worked very hard and was supporting her spouse and his parents as well.

After her first child, Sabita had to work even harder. Her mother would take care of her son and she would go do her thing she was good at – Face/Nail Painting. She said during festive seasons she would earn NPR 15 – 20 Thousand(150-200 dollars)per month. But this was more seasonal. However she was barely able to support her son, her mother, her sister in a disability home, her spouse and his parents.
Sabita was around three months pregnant with her second child, when one day she had an argument with her spouse who had come home drunk as usual. She told us that the main argument was her spouse telling her not to support her mother and her sister. But she explained why she was supporting her mother as she would take care of her son when she was away working. This started to escalate every day from then on. Finally in May of 2013, her husband poured kerosene over her and set her on fire. This domestic violence had hit the roof. It took around one year before she could look herself in the mirror. She said the first day she looked at herself in the mirror she cried. She wanted to end her life but she said she remembered her infant and five year old son, her mother and her sister.

With no income in the household their life deteriorated. To support her daughters, Sabita ’s mother sold her property to take care of the medical bills. The only thing left was their house as they would need something for shelter. After the birth of her second son ,Sabita decided to go to Turkey as a migrant worker. She said leaving her eight month old son and her elder son with her mother was the hardest part when she left for Turkey. But she had no choice as she recalls when she went for face painting for children, people would say the kids are afraid of her.
Sabita came back from Turkey after 9 months as her mother fell ill. Her mother passed away within four months of her being bed-ridden. She recalls her turkey days were not as good as was pictured by the manpower agency as she did not get paid as she was promised. She tried getting back to her job.
As for many Nepalis in semi rural areas, her house was destroyed in the earthquake. This was the house given to her by her mother and the only shelter for her family. When we met her she was not heartbroken with what had happened to her life but the fact that whenever she wanted to work, things were not on her side. The only job she had also went away after the quake. She told us her desire to work using her only skills at face painting, nail painting, and heena tattooing.

There are three ways of helping her
1) Recreating job for her to give her confidence that she can independently handle her family
2) Helping in her children's education
3) Building shelter for her

I request everyone to help in whatever way you can. I personally have given her 100 dollars to start with.


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