Sharmila_headshot and candlemaking class

Sharmila

Several years ago, Sharmila came to our organization asking us to fund literacy classes in her district of Pithuwa. Sharmila asked us to sponsor many classes, and we were able to fund three. When I returned the following year, I was informed that those three groups were doing very well. In fact, they were the top performers among all our classes. Why? Because Sharmila made a point of regularly visiting "her" classes to ensure that they were running properly. She even took it upon herself to fire an underperforming teacher.

With commitment like that from a woman with such leadership skills, we did not hesitate to give Sharmila all the literacy classes she could handle. We have now sponsored 12 classes in Pithuwa, and under Sharmila's supervision, they all are fully involved in our Advanced and Remedial classes.

But sponsoring literacy classes was not enough for Sharmila. She wanted ALL of WELNepal's other projects to be made available to ALL the women's groups in her area. She also refused to wait for all the women's groups to finish their two-year literacy classes before tackling other projects. Sharmila wanted even more opportunities for her groups and she wanted them NOW.

 

And now, in Pithuwa, the women have a library. Most of the women's groups have been involved in our three-day health training. Women's groups are growing and selling mushrooms. All of these projects operate under the watchful eye of Sharmila. And all projects in Pithuwa are incredibly successful.

 

Sharmila taught me an important lesson — projects run by driven, passionate alpha female leaders are the projects with the highest success rates. Now, WELNepal works with other dedicated women, such as Ahilia, who lives in Majuwa, Binita, who inspires the women in her group in Kathar, Tan Kumari, who ensures successful projects in her village of Badahara and Samjhana in Lothar, who oversees and motivates a number of women's groups.

 

Sharmila has been an exceptional addition to the on-the-ground WELNepal team for several reasons. Firstly, she works efficiently and effectively to ensure "her" groups are benefiting from our classes. Secondly, she models the qualities we hope to instill in the women we work with. She's ambitious and she's not afraid to advocate for herself and her community. She shows everyone that rural women from the lowlands of Nepal have the potential to be great leaders who value education, community and personal growth. For anyone looking for a success story to link to female literacy in the developing world, look no further then Sharmila.

Sharmila_headshot and candlemaking class

PHOTOS: Top left - Sharmila; top right - Candlemaking class; bottom left - Sharmila with a student in the library; bottom right - Sharmila teaching in class.