– January 24 2020
Sumitra starts a family business in Nepal
When Sumitra's husband died, she was left to care for their two children alone. Thankfully, she's been able to lift her family up through an SOS family strengthening program.
Sumitra laughs and cheers as her son Aadish* performs a Bollywood dance routine in her small store in Malpi, Nepal. As she claps in time to the music, her daughter Nimali*, who has just returned home from school, joins in.
These are happy times in the Khatri household. The family business is thriving, and the children are doing well at school. Four years ago, the situation was very different.
Sumitra, now 28, got married at the age of 16. The happy life she shared with her two children, husband and his mother in a rural neighborhood on the outskirts of Kathmandu, Nepal was cut short when her husband suddenly died.
“Even during these difficult times, I worked very hard,” says Sumitra, who found work as a day laborer on a farm. Nevertheless, she still struggled to cover the daily living costs for her family. “The main challenge for me was to continue the education of my children,” she says.
Hoping to find support, she went to the Social Center at the SOS Children’s Village in Kavre. She was introduced to the SOS family strengthening program that helps vulnerable families to start small-scale businesses and get educational support for their children.
“The aim of the program is that they eventually live independently,” says Prakash Aryal, the Family Strengthening Program Coordinator at the SOS Social Center. “Some families run farms, others have shops. Some also receive schoolbooks and stationery, food and warm clothing.”
Sumitra told the SOS team she was interested in opening a store, and she received the necessary support to do this.
Through the program, Sumitra’s children are able to attend school, and she has expanded her business and now serves meals.
“I’m now able to save part of my monthly earnings and can finance my household,” she says.
Twelve-year-old Nimali also helps Sumitra in the shop in her free time. “If my mother isn’t in the shop, I sell things to the customers,” she says.
Nimali's brother Aadish, age 9, prefers to read when he comes back from school: “I want to become a doctor,” he says.
*Name changed for privacy protection