Wood carving giving youths a pathway to income generation

Manju carving wood to produce wood products

After taking this job, I can earn, save and even provide money to my mother.

Manju, 19, is a student of Education at Khopa Multiple College, in Bhaktapur. She is currently in her first year of Bachelor’s degree course.

Bhaktapur was one of the worst hit districts badly affected by 2015 earthquake and Manju’s family was no exception. She was a student then, and later while pursuing her high school, she started her job as a marketing officer for a local cooperative. This helped her support her family and to meet daily pocket expenses. Her job required her to visit individual clients for collection of money, for which she received 3,000 Nepali rupees per month, which was not enough.

One day, Manju came to know about wood carving training being held at Bhaktapur by Sustainable Livelihoods Support Project with job assignment after the training. She was very excited to take part in the training, thinking about the chances it would bring in her life. And, it certainly did. She, along with five girls and four boys received one month long training of wood carving.

Training opened her pathways to job placement and Manju received a regular job through the trainer Ms. Krishna Laxmi Chhetala. She is now working part time as a craftsperson. “This job is easier and gives me freedom to express myself through art. The job at cooperative was tedious with low pay and I had to work during exams and even when I was sick. After taking this job, I can earn, save and even provide money to my mother,” Manju shares happily. Her sister-in-law is also equally inspired by her work and took training in the next slot that was organized by the project.

While working part time, Manju produces round design of wood carving (called Sakuli in local language) and Leafy patterns (called Lathepho). She earns rupees 6,000 to 7,000 per month which increases to NPR 15,000 during holidays when she works full time. She has also contributed in the compulsory saving of NPR 175 per day which is directly deposited in local financial institution by her employer. She has been saving her income in local cooperative of Bhaktapur.

Similarly, Rajal, a student of grade 11 is currently studying at Bageshwori college in Bhaktapur. He lives with her mother who is a single parent. Her mother has been raising him with the income from their grocery shop and he had been helping his mother from early age after his father had left them. It was economically very difficult for them with single income to meet daily expenses.

Like Manju, Rajal also heard about the training through his friend and could not let go of this opportunity. He participated in one month-long training and currently, he is also working with the local entrepreneur Ms. Krishna Laxmi Chhetala along with Manju. He earnings are similar to Manju’s. Though it is not fully enough to meet his daily expenses, he is gradually progressing. He is happy that he is supporting his mother and gives his income to the mother. This income has helped him for his personal expenses which earlier was not possible. The trainer has planned to open saving account for him so that he also contributes some amount to his savings that could help him in future.

In total, 28 people including 13 girls and 15 boys, aged 18-20 are working in wood carving where the project has provided basic and advanced wood carving training, Equipment and Tools support, entrepreneurship development training, book keeping training and business counselling to the wood carving producers.

Manju and Rajal are young craftsperson who received the opportunity to improve their livelihood with the support from Sustainable Livelihood Support Project. Young people like them can approach newly established Business Development Center to enroll in training opportunities. The project has provided support to 4,970 earthquake affected families in Nuwakot, Sindhupalchowk, Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur district. 532 people were able to raise knowledge on business management through Start and Improve Your Business (SIYB) Trainings. Similarly, 2,026 people recieved opportunity to increase knowledge and skill through different skill development trainings, and 3,782 have increased access to productive assets like equipment, tools and technology.