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Sewing Hope

Field Report by Rachel Galloway

NEPAL – Sushila has never worked before, but not from a lack of motivation. Because of the strict caste system where she lives, Sushila was not allowed to have a job.

She is a member of what is called the Priyar caste and lives in Astam Village, a small town hours away from Nepal’s capital of Kathmandu. Housekeeping and working in agriculture are the only jobs typically available for someone of Sushila’s standing. Women, especially, are expected not to work at all.

With five children to provide for and a husband who struggled to find consistent work due to their caste, it was hard to make ends meet. Sushila dreamed of working to help support her family, but was always afraid to apply for workshops or trainings because of the risk of discrimination and rejection she might face.

Then Operation Blessing came knocking on her door with the opportunity to attend sewing workshops. Sushila was happy to apply but cautious not to get too excited. A part of her did not believe she would be selected for the program because of her caste.

Sushila with other students in the sewing workshop.

When Operation Blessing reached out to Sushila to tell her she had been chosen, she was overjoyed. She had never touched a sewing machine before but was eager to learn and so thankful for the opportunity.

“I’m so happy and honored that [Operation Blessing] wanted to teach and help us women here in Nepal,” she said. “You are coming and giving us the chance to learn new things, to have new opportunities, and you don’t care about my caste or my condition. You just want to help me because you know I need it.”

Sushila graduated the program with nine other women, all armed with new skills like weaving and sewing. Upon completion of the training, Operation Blessing gave her a sewing machine of her own and the supplies to support her future endeavors.

“Before, I was just living day after day,” she said. “Now, I know there is a hope.”

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