Nabuur, SACD and meeting Sabina Didi

April 11, 2009 at 11:17 pm 1 comment

Sabina Matangi moved to Yoshinkhel, Bhaktapur after her marriage. Besides having a full-time job in Kathmandu, she also takes care of her 2 kids (a son & a daughter). In a patriarchal society like Nepal, it is nothing short of inspiring to see a woman balance family and work. As if that was not enough, she decided to start her own non-profit – Social Action for Community Development Society (SACDS) – aimed at providing for the marginalized and underprivileged women, youth and children of Yoshinkhel, Bhaktapur. That pretty much guarantees her sainthood in afterlife.

I personally met Sabina didi last summer (July 2008) in Nepal. Before that we had been ‘conversing’ mainly via Nabuur through which she sources all the support she needs to run her audacious non-profit. I came across Nabuur’s website back in November 2007 . It is a platform that connects online volunteers with non-profits around the globe. It is one of the coolest & most innovative uses of social networking I have seen on the web.

As soon as I found the website, I browsed to see if there was anything from Nepal. I bumped into Sabina didi’s project. It instantly clicked with me – a grassroots level program aimed at the most vulnerable demographic with an objective to develop skills among them and get them to earn an income so as to sustain the development. Now that is ‘real’ development as opposed to the ‘fake’ ones where people carry out a huge fundraiser (= rich people mingling, getting drunk and giving away their money) and the money goes to pay for internal costs such as the ac-induced high electricity bill while all we get is a PowerPoint presentation.

One of SACD’s major goals is to set up a child care & adult learning center that will offer day care services, a pre-school program and after-school programs. It already offers skill training (for the most part knitting woolen accessories such as hats, gloves, scarves and other apparel) for income generation among women in the community. Sabina didi has not only taught the women how to knit these items but she also takes care of the wool that comes in and the final product that goes out to the stores. SACD has already acquired a half finished building that it plans to complete and convert into a child care center with pre-school and after-school programs. An innovative education program has also been developed for school going children. All of this has been accomplished with the help of “neighbors” (online volunteers) on nabuur.

When I met Sabina didi last July, I was simply looking forward to meeting a woman with audacity and ambition. But what I saw was a warm and loving mother and wife with an unmatched penchant for social work who deeply cared about the community she lived in.

In the nabuur Yoshinkhel page she writes:
“As a child, my aim was to be a social worker. My Grandfather, my Father and my Father-in-Law all spent their lives in service to the community. They used to tell me “Do not think of yourself only. Serve the people around you.” They taught me that some part of life should be spent giving back to the society that serves you. They inspired me to be a local representative. When I remember my responsibility toward the community and the pending work our project requires, it keeps me awake at night. When I succeed in my work, when I see the children happily playing, enjoying and learning, and these small successes make me smile.

I was dumbfounded to find out that she solely funded SACD with her paycheck. She had put in her time, money and an incredible amount of effort to get SACD off the ground. This truly was a project of passion. She mentioned during our conversation that it was heartbreaking for her to hear that someone had to quit school in the neighborhood for any variety of reasons, such as to get married. She also acknowledged that the situation in Yoshinkhel for women and children was far from safe and acceptable. She had started SACD to address these issues.

After I left her home (which is also the SACD HQ), my mind drifted to how the Maoists had allegedly ’empowered’ women in the vilages by giving them guns, teaching them to read communist manifestos and getting them to memorize communist songs. Here was a woman who had given hope and dignity to other women in her community by instilling in them the ability and confidence to earn a decent wage. She had provided for education for children outside of the school environment while the Maoist recruited children into their rebel army force.

The point is not just Maoist bashing. Violence could be an easy way to get what one wants, but hard earned development through peaceful channels – no matter how small – can last for generations and contribute greatly for future ones.

Speaking of her goal for the Yoshinkhel projects Sabina didi says:
“My dream is to make Yoshinkhel a model community – the most educated, healthy and developed community in Nepal. This should be a place where women can earn and children can play and learn. All school age children should enroll in school, while small children are in a centre full of love and care. Women should be independent. When these dreams come true, and we have established the childcare and adult learning center, I will be satisfied.”

For now, she tells me that her immediate need is more volunteers (on nabuur and in Kathmandu/Bhaktapur) capable of running SACD to help achieve the above goal. If you do have time on your hands, please log onto nabuur, become a member (‘neighbor’) of Yoshinkhel and help out a noble cause.

(Sabina didi with her daughter)


Entry filed under: On Development. Tags: , , , , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Anand  |  April 13, 2009 at 11:01 am

    Impressive. I particularly liked the bit about “hard earned development through peaceful channels – no matter how small – can last for generations and contribute greatly for future ones.”

    Well said!

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