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A voice bloomed on the rock hill

As dusk was falling, the 39 year old wife got home after PARMA, the traditional mutual labor exchange at her neighbor’s farm. She was trying to break her fatigue with her sighs. Acute pain in the heels of her feet guaranteed her she had worked more than hard enough. But this was nothing unusual: every day her routine started at 4.am with cleaning the house and fetching water and finished after washing dishes and cleaning the kitchen at 9 pm. So she still had more hours before she’d have a chance to rest. She hurried to make dinner, ignoring her exhaustion and hunger. As she entered her home she easily sensed that someone was there with her husband, and she turned toward where they were talking. After offering greetings she took a step back toward the kitchen.

Immediately, the guest asked her husband what she did with her time. With her over exhausted body, she was excited to hear the answer. Instantly, however, her hopes were dashed when she heard her husband say, “She does nothing.” That sentence pierced her so deeply and painfully.

She finished all her evening duties with gloom and tears. Her aching body was forgotten in the pain that gripped her. Her feeling made the dark night darker, and she could not sleep. She pondered the sentence she had heard, envisioned all the other women with the same story, and thought, “The work we women do will never be treasured, even though it’s such physically hard labor, and even though our families need it.” Finally, she made her mind strong and promised herself to work for all those like her whose 17 hours of work every day was not valued.

Bimala Ghimire, now 56, retrieves this memory of 16 years back to explain to me about the moment that provoked her to be a change maker. She had been the first child to her teenage parents. Always passionate in her desires, Bimala held a dream of pursuing higher education as soon as she was admitted to school at the age of 5. However, a bitter moment blew her wishes from the middle of the path with her parents' decision to marry her when she was just 12.

Being married made her not only a wife but also a daughter-in-law, an additional role that involved its own obligations. She had no chance to study books and lessons any more, and she badly missed them. But since she could read and write, she would help neighboring women correspond with their husbands who were working away from the village. With their million thanks she became more encouraged and thought, “Those women were made so happy from such a little help, if I could have high education then I could help them more in many ways and that would make them most happy!”

So she confided in her husband. His support was very unusual and the mark of a special man. Together they made a plan. She would hide his old books and lessons among the things she carried. When she had idle moments, either in the farm or the kitchen, either in the cow shed or at the water tap, Bimala could read and study. As a result, she eventually passed the tests for completion of her high school education through private examination.

So after all that, it was reasonably a hurting moment when she came to know that women’s role is not considered. She rolled her thoughts to everywhere. Her heart was filled with sorrow. She thought constantly of different images of woman such as: woman carrying a load of fuel wood along with her child, a girl grazing cattle in the farm instead of going to school, a teenage girl becoming a mother, a woman digging in farm three days after delivering her child, a woman bitten by her drunken husband. She also compared herself with others: ”If my educated husband does not value my effort, then it must be as hard or worse for those other women, whose husbands are not educated!”

The voice blazing inside Bimala was ready to erupt and crack the rock hill of traditional Nepalese attitudes toward women and their work. Although to uproot this deep-rooted stereotype was challenging, she piled up all her courage, experience, education and determination to take a step ahead to convince her neighboring women to become together for change. She put forth her full effort all day and night, and the result was a group formed with 25 members.

They began to gather at the farm and have talks. Bimala initiated talking about social issues they were going through such as domestic violence, unrecognized work, early marriage and unsafe childbearing. One by one, every member began to open up in the group. The women began having discussions. They started to save a small amount monthly in a group savings so that they could solve their economic problem by themselves.

After 16 years, the group that used to have to talk in a barn is now an established women’s co-operative. The co-operative has been playing a vital role by providing low interest loans to develop income-generating businesses. The women are making each other economically empowered. With every first light, girls get ready to go to school and college. Every woman courageously raises her voice against social oppression. Importantly, every woman says proudly and loudly, “We work almost 18 hours every day!”

Bimala spills warm smiles during her sharing about her achievements. Her voice speaks with bravery about achieving, along with her co-op members, equal land rights for women. Bimala is truly a warrior. A voice that struggled hard enough to bloom in the stony orchard of the patriarchal system is now shining with satisfaction as she feels the smiles of every woman’s empowerment. Yes, Bimala’s determination and courage are genuinely motivating everyone to unmute the muted voice.

This article is part of a writing assignment for Voices of Our Future a program of World Pulse that provides rigorous new media and citizen journalism training for grassroots women leaders. World Pulse lifts and unites the voices of women from some of the most unheard regions of the world.

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Comments

One of Many's picture

heartwarming journey

Namaste bahini Usha:

Congratulations on your first assignment, Usha. I want to read it over and over, as each time you take me right there with your poetic, lyrical perspective and your description of Bimala's inner state.

And I love being able to see the photos.

Now I hope you will give yourself some time to rest and fill yourself with contentment over your persistent work and your very strong essay.

Congratulations, Usha ~ I am deeply honored to take this journey by your side.

Dherai maya,

Anna

Speaking my Peace

usha kc's picture

Aahhhhh!! Didi,, I am not

Aahhhhh!! Didi,, I am not gonna to thank you :))) but can not stay without giving bow to you:)

yess, I now filled myself with happiness . Your every word to me are precious and divinely.

Warm hugs
Usha

Nusrat Ara's picture

She is a rare woman. I don't

She is a rare woman. I don't think I have seen many women working because of this realization. She is commendable.
Thanks fro sharing.

Love

Nusrat

usha kc's picture

Thank you dear Nusrat for

Thank you dear Nusrat for giving your time to read and making comment,

love

Rachael Maddock-Hughes's picture

Amazing

What an amazing woman. I think Nusrat's comment is quite right--she is a rare woman. Thank goodness for women like her--she is the real change-maker, an example of what the world needs more of. Governments and NGOs can work as hard as they like, but the effects this one woman has had on her community are the most powerful.

Great job!

Rachael

"In every human heart there are a few passions that last a lifetime. They're with us from the moment we're born, and nothing can dilute their intensity." Rob Brezny

usha kc's picture

Rachael, thank you so much

Rachael, thank you so much for comment.
Absolutely she is a rare woman as I feel too. She has piles of stories of her sturggle that inspire and touch everyone to be motivated.

love

Monica Clarke's picture

Dear Usha

You write so beautifully, my sister. Your words flow (spilling smiles is just so very beautiful) - and you paint very vivid pictures. Well done. I look forward to seeing more and more of your stories - and perhaps a bit more about Usha and what she has achieved as well? Love and hugs from Monica

Monica Clarke, Writer & Storyteller, bringing human rights alive.
I wish you 'Nangamso', that is: May you continue to do the good work which you do so well.
(A blessing from my ancestors, the Khoikhoi, the first people of South Africa).

usha kc's picture

Monica sista, thank you thank

Monica sista, thank you thank you dear for your time to give reading my post. Hum, I will sure let you know the more about Usha :))))

Hugs

Liz4peace's picture

Go Bimala!

Dear Usha,
I loved your story - this is what development is all about - empowering women like Bimala and those in her cooperative to improve their lives! And they did it on their own. How much they have to teach us! Thank you

Liz

usha kc's picture

Hey Liz, thank you dear for

Hey Liz, thank you dear for empowring comment.

hug

Leina's picture

Usha,I commend your choice

Usha,I commend your choice for Bimala, she is indeed a brave woman.Your writing style is equally quite captivating.More grease to your elbows.
Blessings
Shekina

usha kc's picture

dear Sis,, thanx alot for

dear Sis,, thanx alot for your words :)))

hugs

MaDube's picture

Thank you Usha for bringing

Thank you Usha for bringing to light the story of this amazing woman. Well written article.

usha kc's picture

My pleasure,Thank you so much

My pleasure,Thank you so much Rumbi.

malba66's picture

Si Se Puede

Thank you for this! I am so inspired and will be sharing your story with the parents of my students, whom I am helping to form a cooperative!! Truly inspiring! Bimala's work, story, and community are like many of the women here in the United States believe it or not. Many of the immigrant women from Latin America whom I work with are facing struggles similar to those in Bimala's community. I know that they will find this story as inspiring as I did.

To the women of Bimala's community, as we say here in the Latino/a community, SI SE PUEDE. Yes you/we can! EN LA UNION ESTA LA FUERZA. There is strength in unity!

Thank you!
Mari

usha kc's picture

Thank you so much dear Marin

Thank you so much dear Marin for comment,

it's good to know that Bimala's story will help your students.

love and hugs

WILDKat's picture

Sounds of warrior women

Marin,

You write, "truly a warrior. A voice that struggled hard enough to bloom in the stony orchard of the patriarchal system is now shining with satisfaction as she feels the smiles of every woman’s empowerment. Yes, Bimala’s determination and courage are genuinely motivating everyone to unmute the muted voice."

What I want to know is how is your voice amplified from having written this article?
Does your passion run deeper for Marin and what matters to her now?

I will be listening for your voice.

Naturally grateful,
Kat Haber

"Know thyself." ~ Plato

usha kc's picture

Hi Kat, Would like to give

Hi Kat,

Would like to give you thanx for giving your time to read my story and your interests.

Having writting this Bimala's story definetely spreads my inner voice too. I have seen, I have experienced how much we Nepali women flow our sweat in house hold chores and when it is not considered by family how it hurt our heart!!! So here Bimala's courage Bimala's struggle for making her community women realized their own tiressless work meant me alot to evoke my voice. It has given the satisfaction.

When Marin feels that it's help to her community My passion definetely run dipper and I felt like honored. A group formed at farm is now well running co-op having approx 18,000 USD saving and empowering women in many ways is really amendable.

WILDKat's picture

Tremendous progress

Usha,

Your writing is clearly making an impact. Find more outlets to have your community's messages heard.
Go Nepalese women, self-valuing your contribution to life in harmonious homes.

Naturally grateful,
Kat Haber

"Know thyself." ~ Plato

usha kc's picture

Thank you again dear Kat.

Thank you again dear Kat. your encouragement really value my voice to be louder.

Okeny-Lucia's picture

It is good she saw the reality!

I like the determination of Bimana, It doesn't matter when the dream will be realised but it will be there.She has remained true to her cause.Thank you for sharing Bimala with us,she gives us courage to go on even when people look down on you.

Lucia Buyanza
Reproductive Health

usha kc's picture

Lucia sista, so much thanx

Lucia sista,
so much thanx dear for your time to read and giving nice commnets.
love n hug

Okeny-Lucia's picture

You are welcome

Hello,
You are welcome dear sister.You keep growing stronger and stronger

Lucia Buyanza
Reproductive Health

Stella Paul's picture

I am happy

Dear Usha sis

Its a joy to be back to world pulse and to read such lovely stories by you all. I knew you would bring a powerful story and you did! I know many such Bimala in Nepal and in India who break their back by working form dawn to late in the night and who are still seen as idle women. It hurts a lot and I am happy that Bimala decided to use that hurt as her weapon to achieve something so great. I especially thank you for telling the story of her. Love!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

usha kc's picture

my dearee sis, thank you

my dearee sis,

thank you dear for always giving such an encouraging comment.

many hugssssss!

Abigail Fern's picture

Powerful Story, Powerfully Told

Dear Usha,

This is a very empowering and heart-lifting story and you did a beautiful job of telling it. It brought tears to my eyes, which is a sign that you succeeded in capturing the essence of the story. I especially love your use of imagery and metaphor. This line was my favorite: "A voice that struggled hard enough to bloom in the stony orchard of the patriarchal system is now shining with satisfaction as she feels the smiles of every woman’s empowerment." Lovely!!!

Bravo! Keep on writing from your soul; the world is listening with arms wide open!

Love,
Abby

usha kc's picture

Dear Abby, thank you so very

Dear Abby,
thank you so very much. your words really made me cry as you wrote it from your core of the heart, it touched me and for sure empoweredme form the inner.

love and hugs

Paulina Lawsin's picture

Wow. very well written and so

Wow. very well written and so moving. Wish we can meet Bimala and let her talk to us here. Now I know what solutions writing is.

Keep up the good work sister.

Paulina

usha kc's picture

Hi sis, thank you so much

Hi sis, thank you so much for comments dear.

:) hugs

tuulafai's picture

very powerful piece

Hi Usha,

What a beautifully, written powerful piece! Thank for your sharing it.

Tuula

usha kc's picture

Namaste didi, Thank you so

Namaste didi,
Thank you so much for comments .

hugsss
:)

Ruun Abdi's picture

Dear Usha, Bimala is indeed

Dear Usha,

Bimala is indeed an incredible woman. Thanks for sharing her story with us.

Well written story.

Kudos sis!

usha kc's picture

Dear Ruun, thank you so much

Dear Ruun, thank you so much for comments.

:) hugs

sunita.basnet's picture

Impressive story

Dear Usha,

Thanks for sharing this inspiring story with us. Yes, I agree with you that cooperatives has helped many women to empower.. Domestic chroes that are conducted by women need to be acknowledged and recognized. I have seen many men who stayed several days hunger when their wives went to visit their parents home.. Domestic chores is indeed a work and it should be recognized.

With Love and Regards
Sunita Basnet

usha kc's picture

Dear Suni, thank you so much

Dear Suni,
thank you so much for comments.
:)) love

mrbeckbeck's picture

Tremendous woman!

Hi Usha,
I must say that I am really impressed! The way you've told this story is so captivating. You're a very talented writer.

And, Bimala is so inspiring! I love how you've focused on the turning point in her journey and told us about her dedication to make a difference in the lives of women around her. And, in doing so, she is changing the traditional stereotypes. I am so impressed, and want to applaud her work. She is truly a rare woman, brave and full of heart to do this work.

Thank you for sharing.
Happy New Year!
Scott

Scott Beck
World Pulse Online Community Manager

usha kc's picture

Hi Scott, It's my pleasure

Hi Scott,
It's my pleasure to get your comments . Thank you so much for time you provided to read my post and writting good comments :)

Wishing you a very very Happy new year.
have a wonderful time.

LeahO's picture

YAY for Bimala!

That is so wonderful that instead of holding in her pain and feeling sorry for herself, she decided instead to bring change. This is the kind of woman we need to be celebrating instead of silly reality TV stars. She shines much brighter and is much more interesting than what I see the popular media portraying.

Thank you for sharing this story.

Leah Oviedo, Self Defense Instructor, Author ,and Artist. Learn about my work here: http://impoweryou.org

usha kc's picture

Dear Leah, thank you so

Dear Leah,
thank you so very much for reading my post and making comments.
love

LeahO's picture

YAY for Bimala!

That is so wonderful that instead of holding in her pain and feeling sorry for herself, she decided instead to bring change. This is the kind of woman we need to be celebrating instead of silly reality TV stars. She shines much brighter and is much more interesting than what I see the popular media portraying.

Thank you for sharing this story. Is there a video or website about her work? I would like to add her to my page of change makers.

Leah Oviedo, Self Defense Instructor, Author ,and Artist. Learn about my work here: http://impoweryou.org

Sara Collins's picture

Be a warrior

Your story inspires me along with many others to be a warrior. We each face hurtful and difficult moments where we can be a victim or a warrior. Bimala in the face of serious obstacles has embodied a warrior for good. Her work has lasting impact and is further amplified with your creation and sharing of her story.

Thank you and may we all have such courage!

usha kc's picture

you provided your valuable

you provided your valuable time on reading my story , thank you so much Sara.

Monica09's picture

Familiar story

Dear Ms. Usha,

Greetings from Bangladesh!

My mother resembles Bimala in that her efforts as a homemaker were never recognized to the fullest. Unlike Bimala, she could not continue her education, and eventually lost her hope in contributing to the wider community. However, it is for her unrecognized home-making efforts that she has successfully nurtured responsible off-springs who now teach her basic human rights and skills, and who materialize her dreams. Supportive family members are key ingredients here.

So nice to have interacted with you dear Ms. Usha!

Warmly,
Monica

Bimala's story is one that reveals the hard truths of how women put up with so much prejudice; and it is the story of every woman out there. Time and time again, the efforts of women are often overlooked; but Bimala and her peers proved that given the opportunity, women can and will change the world for good.

Your writing is very impressive! Little wonder why it was highlighted as one of the strongest assignments from last year. It's nice to have an opportunity to learn from you.

Best wishes,

Greengirl

usha kc's picture

Hi Green sis, thank you so

Hi Green sis,
thank you so much for the time you provided to read this and put words on my writing. Thank you fr appreciation dear.

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