Now, a popular and successful mason in her village, Durga not only builds earthquake-resilient houses but also teaches villagers about the technology.
Durga Maya Sarki, 24, of Prapcha 9 of Molung Rural Municipality, Ward No. 5 of Okhaldhunga district has completed class 12 from a local college.
She used to run a grocery store and made about Rs. 200 a day, which made her life difficult in supporting her family.
One fine day, in January 2017, she heard about a mason training in her village through a local radio. The training was free of cost. She consulted her family before filling the form but her family did not trust her. Despite that, she gathered enough courage to contact the staff of F-Skill, Training and Employment Service Provider of Employment Fund/HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation Nepal and filled up the form with their support.
The life took a drastic turn when Durga Maya got selected for the 50 days training class. As she had keen desire to become a skilled mason, she never missed the classes.
Though her father and brothers were popular masons in the village, she had never imagined that she would one day follow her family’s footsteps. However, after the training, Durga started to work as a mason with the help of her family. It wasn’t difficult for her to find work, as the post-earthquake reconstruction was taking pace.
She performed very well, as she was technically very sound. Though her father and brothers had traditionally been masons, they never went through a formal training to build earthquake-resilient houses.
Now, Durga is instead instructing her father and brothers to construct earthquake-resilient houses, applying the skills and knowledge she gained during the training.
Now, a popular and successful mason in her village, Durga earns around Rs. 30,000 a month. She not only builds earthquake-resilient houses but also teaches villagers about the technology. She has already constructed 10 earthquake-resilient houses in her village.
With increased income, Durga is very excited to have her first smart phone. She is also taking care of her brother and sister’s education. “I am happy that I could fulfill my dream of having a good mobile and educate my siblings,” visibly-happy Durga shared.
With the skills acquired to build houses, there’s no stopping Durga now. She currently has a skill test of Level-1 and dreams of becoming a sub-engineer by appearing in Level-3 examination.
Durga has set an example in her village that even the educated woman like her can become a mason. “Having skills has no boundary: neither age, nor education, nor gender can stop people from getting the right skills,” she proudly said.
Her father Til Bahadur Sarki is proud of her daughter’s achievement. “I’m especially indebted to her, as she is also transferring her skills to us,” he said. “Even though I had been working as a mason for the last 25 years, I did not have the proper skills required to construct an earthquake resilient house.”
He says not only proud of her daughter but also thanks HELVETAS Nepal for providing her the skill. And, her mother and siblings are happy that Durga now has education, knowledge and technical skills too.
The construction sector has the largest number of unorganized laborers in Nepal close to the figures of agricultural sector and women form half the workforce. However, the majority of these women do not have specific skills, as they only enter the construction sector as unskilled laborers and remain unskilled for whole life. Only men get training opportunities and systematically upgrade their construction skills to graduate as masons, supervisors and contractors.
However, with the skills training provided by the Reconstruction Skills project of Employment Fund/ HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation Nepal, with financial support of UK’s Department of International Development (DFID), more and more women are becoming skilled construction workers. For example, out of 756 masons trained with 50 days long on-site mason training in Okhaldhunga district alone, 262 are women.
The main objective of the on-site training is to provide skills to build earthquake-resilient houses following the devastating earthquake in April 2015. The on-site training teaches the important elements of building, how the building reacts during earthquake, use of bands, opening location and percentage, height of the building and many other relevant topics.
By Ram Sapkota with Kriti Bhuju in Okhaldhunga ; January 24, 2018