Jenisha was working as a maid in the Middle East when disaster struck. News came that her mother had fallen seriously ill, so she asked permission to return to Nepal. Her employer refused. Alone and distraught, Jenisha tried to take her own life, using a chemical substance she found in the house. After a month in ICU she recovered, but she had lost her voice and her ability to walk properly.
She returned home in despair and disgrace. Not only had she spent all her savings on her hospital bill, but now she was also physically disabled.
Sadly, it is not uncommon in Nepal for people with special needs to be considered an embarrassment to one’s family and to be shunned by society. Services for them are few, and opportunities for employment are minimal.
Jenisha could have been disheartened, but she has a spirit that won’t back down. She surprised everyone by getting married and having a child. All was going well until her husband died of kidney failure a year and a half later. Soon after that, her mother died as well. But even then Jenisha persevered.
She found support, love and a new faith at Rise and Shine, a Nepali non-profit that strives to raise the quality of life of marginalized single women. The director invited her to join their vocational training course called “Empowering Single Women Through Skill Development,” which she did. She learned to make soap, then jewelry. She worked hard and did her best.
The next course was tailoring. That is when Jenisha really started to shine, showing natural talent as a seamstress. And it was a dream come true. She had wanted to become a tailor ever since childhood.
After completing the six-month course, Jenisha attended DDHCFN’s workshop on starting a small business. She received a sewing machine and other essentials, thanks to our sewing start-up kits. Then she packed it all up and headed home to eastern Nepal.
“The training and care I received at Rise and Shine empowered me,” Jenisha said. “I started thinking about my daughter’s future and I imagined how I could make a living doing something I enjoy. My plan is to start a small tailor’s shop for my livelihood.”
The director of Rise and Shine reports that despite a set-back during the pandemic, Jenisha is doing well. But she says she would like to have an iron to add to her tools of the trade!
Rise and Shine has received support from DDHCFN for specific programs for single women in need. Many of these women are abandoned wives and widows, who, because of the stigma in Nepali society, face discrimination, humiliation and poverty. Particular need is found among young women left with dependent children and those, like Jenisha, who have special challenges. Rise and Shine seeks to teach skills that can provide a livelihood and raise their status, both economically and socially, giving them a chance to shine.