Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Situation in Old House
Bhagawati Hamal’s story is very similar to many other families in the Kavre area of Nepal. At age 48, her family income comes from tomato farming on her 7 ropani (~3,600 sq. meters) piece of land. She had a small one-story shack of a house with a hay roof before Habitat for Humanity (HFH) helped finance a new house. She lived in this old house with nine members of her family, cattle, and the kitchen all in the same room. She describes her story:

Bhagawati Hamal in front of a wall of her house.

Living in the old house, we had to be constantly mindful of windstorms, fires, wild animals, floods, and landslides. At the old house there was even a tiger attack killing a goat. We cried to seek help from our neighbors, but that simply irritated them. So, our life has been very difficult for us. We were always afraid of leaving a long way for work because our old house was unsafe threatened by wind, fire, rain and theft.

In the rainy season, the water used to leak from the roof. We remember days when we couldn't even sleep entire nights during a storm for fear of the house falling down due to the heavy rainfall. When rainwater leaked from the roof, we used pots to collect water to prevent the floor or bed from getting wet. If the rain was very heavy, we even had to cover ourselves with mats and sacks to keep ourselves dry.

We had no access to information and communication when we lived at the old house. It was very difficult for the children to study in this environment. My children were really pushing to build a new house. But I was crying in the corner because we did not have enough money.

Bhagawati Hamal’s old house (left) and new house (right)

After the New House was Built
My first words are to say, “Thanks to Habitat.” Habitat provided the loan, which resulted in abounding joy in my family. Our new house provides my family with dignity. It indicates this is good environment to do work and produces new goods to earn money for a better life. Of course, it is a fact that we still have to pay the mortgage. But the system makes it easy for us to pay. I feel as if I had gotten this house for free. That is why we felt the Habitat housing program is great for us. In the past, I have taken money from villagers, women groups, and relatives. They had charged 24% interest when the money is returned.

We also have electricity. Information and communication is a human right and after building the new house we have access to information and communication. Now days, we listen the radio and we are going to buy a television soon.

Bhagawati Hamal talking with Habitat-Nepal staff member Bal Devi Pokhrel.

We succeeded in building a new house and we are pleased with the Habitat support. Now, we don't have to be afraid of windstorms, fires, rains, and floods. In the present situation we feel safe from all types of problems. There is also a good environment for the children to study. We actually feel that we have dignity now and that we have built a better relationship with the rest of society with our new house.


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