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A commitment to empower women is embedded in Heifer International’s core values for sustainable development. In honor of International Women’s Day on March 8, this week we’re sharing the stories of Heifer participants who take the gifts of animals and training and run with them to extraordinary results for themselves and their communities. Through hard work and innovations, each woman secures her rightful place in the family, the marketplace and the world.

Photo by Geoff Oliver Bugbee
Sita Poudel counsels women in the village of Belsi.
If a leader can be measured by the achievements of those she guides and inspires, then the record of Sita Poudel’s lifework is already off the charts. She received two goats in 1993 and has worked with Heifer International ever since. She started her own nongovernmental organization, the Women’s Group Coordination Committee in Chitwan, Nepal, which works with nearly 500 women’s groups in the country. Her warm heart and perseverance show how far two goats and a passion for helping others can take you.
Meena Chaudhary, of the Prakash Women’s Group in Belsi, said Poudel would not take “no” for an answer when she came to offer help to thelower-caste group of women. Even after being turned away dozens of times from the once extremely poor village, Poudel kept coming back.
“We are where we are today because of Sita’s guidance and support,” Chaudhary said. “We have learned from her that money is not the only thing that helps people. It’s the intention to do good and to help others.”
Poudel continues to raise goats, getting up at 4:30 a.m. daily to care for the animals and prepare breakfast for her family before spending all day, six days a week, working side by side with the women her organization supports. She said her reward is watching the transformation of the women she helps.
“When they smile at me and invite me into their houses and show me the life they have today because of all my hard work and theirs, it makes me want to go into a new place tomorrow and start all over again,” Poudel said.
Read more about Poudel in this World Ark article.


Donna Stokes

Donna Stokes is the managing editor of World Ark magazine. She has worked for Heifer International since September 2008 when she leaped over to the nonprofit world from a two-decade career in newspaper journalism.