Left homeless and without any income Arbun Manihar and her family have rebuilt their lives after joining an INF Self-Help Group that has encouraged them to save, invest and start a successful business. They are also part of a community that is now working together for the good of everyone in the village.
When Arbun was only a teenager she married and moved to her husband’s land where they worked and raised their five children. Three years ago a family disagreement saw her brother-in-law take the family’s land leaving them destitute. Arbun was aged 50 at the time and their family’s future suddenly looked bleak.
Soon after Arbun was invited by an INF staff member to join a Self-Help Group in Maharajun Municipality in Kapilvastu in Western Nepal. The group gathered regularly to discuss a variety of issues including health and hygiene, the importance of education and financial planning. Every month each member invested 20 rupees into a community bank account for emergencies such as health issues or urgent road maintenance.
Being a part of the group also gave Arbun confidence to restart a business she had had in her twenties. She had previously sold jewelry and beauty items but the business had been not been financially viable so she’d stopped. The community decided it would like to invest in helping Arbun restart her business. She now travels widely selling jewelry and other beauty products to women and girls, many who are unable to leave their homes or show their faces in public because according to their culture women and girls should just stay in their house.
Arbun says she strongly believes that women and girls everywhere should understand the importance of being strong, independent and be able to choose to feel beautiful. Arbun lives out her philosophy as she walks through 16 villages every week selling her products in addition to the weekly ten kilometer journey on foot to India to restock.
Her business combined with her husband’s casual work now fully supports their family. Empowered through her INF Self-Help Group, Arbun has gained independence and a future of real hope.
Self-Help Groups play a key role in INF’s Community Health and Development work across hundreds of communities in Western Nepal.