Sangita Sarki, a 17 year old young woman of Jwalamukhi-4, Dholagaun, has suffered tragedy and the burden of responsibility well beyond her age.
Her mother, Pampha Sarki, committed suicide two years ago. PHASE tried to understand the circumstances behind her suicide and found that a big factor was the traditional religious systems which places the highest value on a woman bearing sons. Pampha had given birth to six daughters and no sons. She was harassed by her husband. “Our father always used to beat & scold our mother.” said Sangita Sarki, Pampha’s second daughter. That’s the main reason Pampha suffered from depression for many years. It drove her to suicide, leaving behind her six daughters.
Last year, Sangita lost her father, too, who was ill with jaundice, probably because of the excessive use of alcohol over many years.
The six daughters were left to fend for themselves. Suicide is regarded an especially bad evil in Nepalese society; their uncles and aunts were not prepared to support them. Among the six sisters the oldest, 19 year old Beli Sarki, had already gotten married while her parents were alive and had moved to her husband’s home.
So Sangita, the second eldest, at only 17 years was the “responsible adult” of the household. The youngest was just 6 years old, and missed out on the warm love of her parents. After school, she worked as a daily wage labourer to earn enough for her family’s survival. She not only had to make a living as a wage laborer to support her sisters, but also had dreams to complete her own schooling. She is only in class 8. As you can imagine, this must have been a very challenging and painful role and task for a 17 year old. The sisters lived together in the temporary shelter built post 2015 AD earthquake.
Sangita’s parents had already received the first tranches of the reconstruction grants after making the agreement with the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) for reconstruction of their earthquake destroyed house. Unfortunately, the parents had spent this money on the marriage of their oldest daughter. So now, all the burden of reconstructing a new house also fell on the shoulders of Sangita. It felt to Sangita as if it would never get easier.
Leave No One Vulnerable Households (Hamro Ghar Project), implemented at Jwalamukhi Rural Municipality since July 2018, supports the reconstruction of vulnerable households. The team met Sangita, listened to her story, and took an interest in supporting her family to reconstruct their home. The team verified her vulnerability and categorized her as one of the “Most Vulnerable” families, as she had no adult support at all. The project team decided to provide full support for the construction of their house. “Our relatives didn’t help one bit, but we finally got a completely new & strong house. – We are very happy with the project’s support! Thank you to all Sirs & Madams who made this possible.” Sangita said. “I now can devote my energies to try and ensure a bright future for my four sisters. I don’t know if my wage money will be enough or not, but I’m so grateful we now have a home.”
(Sangita and her sisters will need further support to ensure they can complete their schooling.)