Heifer's work is about more than just giving livestock to poor families; it is about changing the conditions that keep families poor. The story of Sushila Ranamagar in Nepal is a good example. Sushila lives with her family of five in the village of Matikhel, just on the outskirts of Kathmandu. Sushila is from a minority ethnic group that is often excluded from Nepali society, in part because their first language is not Nepali.
Sushila is part of a women's self help group, a part of Heifer's work in Nepal that works to bring women together to pass on the gift of livestock and also to empower one another through a group savings account. As a part of this group, Sushila received two goats and training in Heifer's cornerstones in August 2008 as a gift from an original recipient of goats and training from Heifer. She admits that she was wary about how two goats could make her life better. Over time she realized that it was not just about the goats. The training she received and the discussions she had with her fellow group members soon broadened her mind to ways of thinking that she had never been exposed to before. Soon she was a leader in her group, even becoming its president.
As Sushila gained confidence in her abilities as a leader she also began to realize that she is, at heart, an entrepreneur. Last year she took out a loan of 10,000 Nepalese rupees from her group's savings fund, to which she added 5000 rupees she was able to save from goat's milk and other agricultural products, and invested the money in a mushroom growing operation.
All of her mushrooms are sold to local villagers and provide a good source of protein for the community. Over her first year of operation she has sold more than 45,000 rupees worth of mushrooms and made a profit of 25,000. With the profits from her mushroom operation she is now sending her son to a good private school and using much of the rest to reinvest in other income-generating projects. She is already beginning to plan for a tomato growing operation this summer. Sushila has come a long way from a woman who was uncertain of how a pair of goats would change her life—she now has confidence and hope for her family's future.
Help Build Communities in Nepal
We are currently working to improve the lives of 8,900 families like Sushila's in Nepal and we need your help. Please contribute to fund our project to Build Communities for Holistic Development in the Eastern Region.