Promoting traditional skill for livelihood opportunities

Chandra Bahadur BK, 48, lives with his family of five in Gangajamuna-4, Dhading, and owns an ironsmith shop where he spends most of his days creating different products for sale.

Just a few years back he struggled immensely to meet his ends as he only owned a small piece of land that was not sufficient to provide for his family. He worked as a porter and a farmer at times, even though he had the skill of an ironsmith. Chandra shares, “I had no other option for earning. Even if I had the skill and space, I did not have the necessary tools. Ironsmith is a difficult job if you do not have the right equipment. I was not sure how I would take care of my family’s needs. It was a difficult phase of my life.” To add to his worries, his house was also damaged by the devastating earthquake of 2015.

In 2019, he was identified as one of the vulnerable people under poor and food-insecure families and was approached by Purnima programme. Given his interest and capacity, the project facilitated the process in the Ward and Palika office and lobbied to scale up his business. Ultimately his business was granted resource support as part of the Purnima programme in collaboration with the government.

Chandra received CGI sheets from Gangajamuna Palika which helped him build a suitable working area in his yard. Tools like an electronic blower, welding machine, and hammer provided by Purnima helped him create a working environment. Swiftly, Chandra made quality materials like kuto, hasiya, bancharo, khukuri, karauti, chino, etc. (all traditional Nepali tools) which are high on demand. “My customers are mainly the farmers of the local community who are ready to pay a good price for the tools I make. They say it is very good in shape and very efficient. The equipment I got from the project made this possible as I can make the materials easily and almost two times faster. I am very happy as this has now become my regular income,” shared Chandra.

At present, Chandra is selling his products even in adjoining villages. His business is growing, and he has been able to take care of all his expenses. Purnima programme not only supported him with income generation but also facilitated to link with National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) from where he received third tranches for his house reconstruction.

Chandra’s brother has also joined him in his workshop. Both are occupied all day. “The benefit margin has increased, and I have earned Nepali rupees two lakhs in five months. I used the profit to pay back NPR 100,000 housing reconstruction loan, spent NPR 75,000 in my daughter’s marriage and other remaining in regular expenses,” said Chandra. Through the project, he has been linked to Megha Small Farmers Agriculture Cooperative Limited and Sadhana Microfinance, where he deposits 200 rupees monthly.

In days to come, Chandra plans to enroll his high-school-going son into Information Technology (IT) course, so that he can hold a prestigious job. Chandra on the other hand wants to expand his business and register it in Gaupalika. He is very grateful to Purnima programme which has helped him have a steady and successful business and gave him hopes to fulfill his families’ dreams.

Case story and photo: DanChurchAid