Buying Time
Buying Time

Time is one of the most precious resources village women in Nepal have. With many competing demands – family, household tasks, field work and income earning – women typically work very long days. They’ll be up before the sun rises, and are the last to seek their beds in the evenings.

Khini Maya wondered how she would find the time to attend the non-formal education (NFE) classes that UMN’s partner ISN started in her village. But like many women, she had missed the opportunity to go to school when she was young, and didn’t want to miss out again. Of course, NFE classes do much more than just teach literacy. They are a forum for women in the community to discuss issues of concern to them. It’s not surprising that one of the most pressing issues they raised was that of the water supply.

Getting water was another time-consuming task that usually falls to women and children. Most of the year, Khini Maya and her friends had to walk for two hours (round trip) to bring back water from a spring source for basic household use. The metal gagaris (water pots – see photo) they carry hold about 25L, and are very heavy when full. During the wet season, trudging up and down slippery mountain paths with full loads of water was not only arduous work, but dangerous as well.

Households were getting by on minimal amounts of water, because fetching it was so difficult. Basic hygiene suffered, because water couldn’t be spared for simple things like hand-washing. There was no water for kitchen gardens during the dry season, and even livestock suffered from lack of water. And two hours a day in a busy woman’s life – it meant that finding the time for NFE classes was even more challenging.

Khini Maya and the women of Kumsot are extremely grateful for the new water system that brings water almost to their doorsteps. Water has brought with it more time – time for their children, for kitchen gardening and farming, time to spend with friends, and time for their precious NFE classes.

Written by Ramesh Thing, Integral Mission Officer, UMN

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