Nepal | September 25, 2020

Devis and our women

Krita Raut
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In 2002, Creative Statements initiated a one of a kind concept of honouring women achievers from nine different walks of life through ‘Celebrating Womanhood Navadevi Awards’. In a country where goddess like Durga, Laxmi and Saraswati are worshipped as the symbol of power, wealth and knowledge, the Navadevi awards included nine goddess’ name to symbolise the attributes of the goddess with real life women achievers.

With an objective of bringing in the positive changes in the society through success stories of such women Creative Statements is all set to acknowledge this year’s winners on October 12. This year two new categories have been included for men who have been working to bring women to the forefront. Here’s a look at the lives of some previous years’ winners.

Where Laxmi resides:

She has made use of raw materials that would otherwise be considered waste and manufactured non-traditional products that has helped her rake in the moolah.

Meet Laxmi Sharma, the innovative proprietor of Laxmi Wood Craft Udhyog, who has a successful button manufacturing business that uses the horns and bones of buffaloes and goats as raw materials. The products are exported all over the world.

This former tempo-driver’s journey has not been easy. Many have questioned the use of bones and horns in her products, and even her employing recovered lepers as labour. But she has grown from strength to strength with every challenge.

In her journey she said that “goodwill” is something that she has earned along the way. And added proudly that many of her workers, who learned the trade under her,

have now started their own businesses and are her competitors.

“It feels good to see my idea and thoughts being used by them,” she shared.

She was the recipient of the first Navadevi Laxmi Award.

“Being somebody who doesn’t have any formal education, it really felt wonderful to receive the award along with such qualified women of society,” she said.

Soul of compassion:

For over a decade Sajani Amatya, president of Friends of Needy Children (FNC), has been working for orphans, physically challenged, children who have gone through different trauma, and other underprivileged children.

Her urge to help the needy children goes back to her childhood days. Amatya’s father, a social worker, died when she was very young. Her mother had to take care of five children, the eldest was just 10 then. However, help came in the form of Red Cross.

“I feel the help from Red Cross saved our lives. As we had an opportunity to study, it prevented us from straying into bad habits like drugs, even when we were in such a vulnerable situation. I strongly believe that the best kind of help is to educate children,” she said. The other valuable lesson that she learnt was — ‘Let’s do something for others’. Amatya has brought about a positive change in many children’s lives through various programmes like scholarships, rehabilitation and recovery of malnourished children, the latest being medical and nutritional support for HIV positive children.

The other issue FNC is working for is the abolition of Kamlaris or indentured daughters system in the western Nepal. She shared they had been able to rescue around 2,600 girls so far.

Amatya described her work as a field where work never ends. But for a “compassionate” person like her, bringing a genuine difference in the life of a single person is worth more than contributing half-heartedly to many people. She believes the Navadevi Karuna Award that she received in 2003 is best suited for her as it defines her compassion for her work. “It was a reminder that I have much more to do in this field,” she said.

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