Autumn Newsletter 2018 Nepal
28 May 2018
“Untouchable” to unstoppable
Sapana Ghantani is a Dalit woman – an “untouchable” member of the lowest caste in Nepal’s traditional social order.
The 2000-year-old caste system violates human rights by international standards meaning Sapana faces discrimination daily.
A life bound by hopelessness
Sapana grew up in a very poor family from Saptari district in Eastern Nepal. As a member of the “untouchable” caste, Sapana was subjected to many social restrictions. She was forbidden to enter temples and most schools. She was also unable to collect water from wells used by higher castes.
When Sapana married Kumar, a man of a higher caste, the couple was shunned by their family and community. They were forced to leave their village and flee to Kathmandu.
Despite working as a mason, Kumar did not earn enough for the couple to live on. They rented a room in a shared house and struggled to afford food and basic healthcare.
With education comes opportunity
In Kathmandu, Sapana connected with The Salvation Army Nepal Community Development Centre.
The centre offers skills training in tailoring and craft for indigenous women. It also offers after-school care and educational support to local children.
For Sapana, the decision to join the centre was life-changing.
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