Post Quake: A Brighter Future For Women

When a massive earthquake struck Nepal last April, nearly every structure in Khokana, a village south of Kathmandu, crumbled to dust.

We were inspired to move forward by the first JDC team that came through.

That’s when Apsara Dangol, a tenacious dynamo who runs a community clinic in the village, sprang into action, establishing a volunteer network to assist Khokana’s women, who were hit disproportionately hard by the disaster.

“After the earthquake, women felt like they couldn’t do anything,” she said. “They thought there was no point in even attempting to improve their situation in life since they could lose everything at any moment or even die.”

The earthquake destroyed subsistence farms and nearly 600,000 homes, along with the weaving materials, tools, seeds, and livestock that had enabled thousands of women to eke out a living for their families.

JDC is focused on empowering those women in areas of health and livelihood as part of our robust relief and recovery effort, because experience has shown they are critical to a community’s road back from natural disaster.

It’s a strategy that has impacted more than 49,000 people—like Apsara, who was determined to overcome a sense of fatalism that seemed pervasive. “We were inspired to move forward by the first JDC team that came through,” she said of herself and her peers. Reassured by JDC’s long history helping communities rebuild following disasters, they thought, “if other communities did it, we can, too.”

Apsara worked with JDC and Homenet South Asia to establish a multipurpose community center in one of the hardest-hit areas of Nepal. This and four similar centers established by activists like Apsara have given hundreds of women a safe space to gather, reliable child care, and psychosocial counseling and support.Their diverse training programs also help women acquire new skills—providing critical access to higher earning potential, as well as the tools, equipment, and other resources they need to restart their home-based endeavors and build stronger futures for themselves and their families.

“This training has given me the chance to live again,” said one recent participant.

Mira Shrestha agrees. With a two-year-old daughter and twelve-year-old son to support, the sewing course she completed helped her gain entry to an advanced course in tailoring funded by the local government. She is grateful for the childcare program that kept her daughter safe and occupied, freeing her to take on much-needed work, complete her training, and get more involved in her community.

“Now, I’m confident I can achieve my dream of opening my own tailor shop,” she says.

Masina Adhikari has a dream, too—to improve her family’s situation by becoming a successful farmer. With training in organic farming skills and new seeds from Rural Reconstruction Nepal, a JDC-supported partner, she now grows out-of-season vegetables for market—and looks forward to expanding her reach via social media.

In the last year alone, JDC’s broader recovery efforts have helped build resilience in over 20 vulnerable, heard-to-reach villages by training and placing hundreds of teachers and community and youth leaders who are now empowered to respond in the event of future disasters. And JDC supported the reconstruction of two medical clinics in the Dolakha district, adding new, designated spaces and services for women, as well as solar power units for each clinic to ensure their continued operation during ongoing power shortages.

“To be with other women in the community and share common experiences has given me strength—and this training has brought me new joy,” says Bimla, with gratitude for the path forward she found through a JDC-supported weaving course after her farm was destroyed.

Her story speaks to the power of creating a strong foundation for women in Nepal—an investment that will reap benefits for generations to come.