Malati prepares tea in her small makeshift home in Saramthali. A house made of corrugated iron, from walls to ceiling, hastily rebuilt after the 2015 earthquake. Their house was totally destroyed. She and her husband talk about their three sons who left for Kathmandu to work in construction. She hopes the fourth son will stay here to help them. The farmer's life is not easy here.
She's amused to say that before they had children, they had no needs. “We lived in autarky. Some months, some years were harder, but we just about got by. Children are another mouth to feed, she laughs, and then you have to pay for school, notebooks, pencils, uniforms.” A situation made almost impossible by the earthquake.
The family asked for help from the Langtang Buffer zones committee, which referred them to ASIA. Support that first took the form of a vegetable garden. Tomatoes, chilli, cucumbers, the surplus of which they sell in the neighbouring communities. Last year they were able to collect 30,000 rupees (220 euros). Recently, Malati took on a new challenge with the support of the Italian NGO: honey production. She was provided with two hives, equipment, a five-day training course and regular monitoring. She placed them behind her house, right next to her vegetable garden.
Three hours on foot away, in the village of Langbu, there are other women beneficiaries, other beehives. But this time on concrete roofs. Not least because they do not have a large enough plot of land. "It's also more practical because it takes less time if the hives are within reach, on the roof of our houses, we already have enough to do", says Kharchi, 39 years old and mother of 4 children.
They received the hives last April and hope to produce their first honey next spring. They learned about the project from the municipality. ASIA had submitted the programme to the municipality, which then informed various women, and those interested contacted the local ASIA staff. A selection was made and they received training. "It's much less demanding than the usual cultivation, it's easier because we mainly have to monitor the hive's development," explains 60-year-old Niru.
What they remember most from the training, apart from the technical aspects, is the obligation to express themselves in front of others, to say what they feel, what they think. For them, this was totally new. "It was also the first time that I discussed with other women how to take responsibility for our own lives, how to actively participate in our daily lives, how to envisage our future, that of our family and our children," explains Maina, 25 years old and mother of two girls. For me it's a radical change".