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Nisha Pariyar and her husband Min Bahadur are Dalits, a sub-caste considered to be untouchable in the Nepali society. The couple and their two children had little. They lived in a hut on government land, and Min Bahadur did the traditional work of the Dalits—sewing clothes.
Nisha wanted to help out in the family's work but was not allowed to do so. For her father-in-law, allowing his daughter-in-law to earn money was more unacceptable than living in poverty.
In 2006, Min Bahadur moved to Dubai in hopes of making more money, but the company that hired him found him unable to work due to weak lungs. The family had spent all they had to cover the expenses of visa processing, plane tickets and consultancy charges, so when Min Bahadur had to pay for his flight back home, the family plunged into debt.
But in January 2008, after joining a women's self-help group, Nisha received two goats. She was determined to succeed so her children would have a better future.
The first year her goats had five kids. She sold three of them for 8,000 rupees and fulfilled her pass on requirement that year. The next year the nanny had four kids all of which she sold for 13,000 rupees. All told, after three years, Nisha made a total of 39,000 rupees from her goats.
Two years after joining the project, Nisha and her husband were able to buy a small plot of land and build a thatched-roof house with two rooms. They started a kitchen garden and are now growing enough vegetables that they are able to sell for 10,000 rupees every year.
After her success with the goats, Nisha convinced her husband to let her participate in the sewing training provided by the government. After being involved in Heifer's trainings, her husband felt that by working together they would be financially better off. He was confident in her abilities.
Nisha bought a sewing machine with a loan from the group fund. Both husband and wife started to sew and take care of the animals together. Her small shop that started from her house is now the most popular tailoring shop in the small village. Their monthly profit ranges from 15,000 rupees to 20,000 rupees (about $200-$250).
Only a few years ago Nisha was confined in her house, her potential limited by its walls. Belonging to a Heifer group has given Nisha a new platform from where she has achieved new heights. Both Nisha and Min Bahadur are more confident about their children's future. Nisha is more hopeful for her daughter. "The sky is the limit for her," she says.