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April 25, 2017

When Dilmaya first heard about ActionAid in 2015, she was skeptical. A 7.8-magnitude earthquake had just destroyed her home in Nepal, and she and her family had to sleep under the open sky for several days. How would joining ActionAid’s Women Friendly Space be a good use of her time?

Somehow, a friend convinced her to go, and Dilmaya soon saw how she could thrive there. Over time, she says, she even “became attached to the group.”

At the Women Friendly Space, Dilmaya learned how to minimize the effects of earthquakes and make her own house disaster-resilient. She also participated in micro-enterprise training and learned to manage her furniture business more efficiently. She and her husband now earn double their previous income. She says,

“We are even able to provide for all the educational needs for our children, and it is a huge achievement for us.”

Today, at the two-year mark of the 2015 Nepal Earthquake, we remember the devastation it brought and the nearly 9,000 lives lost. But as we continue to work with people in Nepal to rebuild their communities, we also celebrate their milestones. Thanks to our strong local partners and networks in Nepal, we were able to reach 133,485 people with food and emergency supplies right after the earthquake.

Rita (right), reconstruction program leader. Photo: ActionAid

“The earthquake shattered our homes but it gave us an opportunity to unite; and we women are united and stronger than ever.”

– Rita, Women-Led Reconstruction Committee leader

We asked women in the community what changes they wanted to see, and that’s why we’re now supporting them to develop their small business skills. Working with local partners, ActionAid has rebuilt schools, supported farmers adapting to climate change, and helped people gain access to land to reconstruct their homes. And women are at the forefront of each of these programs.

Bina, reconstruction program leader. Photo: ActionAid

“We formed [a] women’s construction committee, and we took the lead in the construction of Women’s Friendly Space in our community. We participated every day in the construction in various ways. And I am very proud to be part of this.”

– Bina, Women-Led Reconstruction Committee leader

Through our 23 Women Friendly Spaces around the country, women are finding a safe place to discuss issues, receive peer support, and fight violence against women. They are advocating for their own needs. One leader, Saradha, said she and her group submitted a program proposal to the municipal council – and it was approved!

What Dilmaya found at the Women Friendly Space went beyond job training and tips for disaster response. Her entire outlook on life has changed. She says,

“WFS has made me a better person. I have learned through WFS that in order to improve our family and community, we need to make that improvement in ourselves first.

“Carrying a fancy bag and heading towards an office was my biggest dream. But after attending the training, I realized that getting a job wasn’t the greatest thing of all. Having a business of your own and being able to provide employment opportunities for others would definitely feel much better than having to work as an employee for others.”

This is the change ActionAid is all about. Investing in local problem solvers like Dilmaya who are changing the world around them – and bringing about change that lasts.