A case of community transformation
LUMANTI Support Group for Shelter is implementing a program titled 'Socio-Economic Transformation for Secured Housing through People Led Process' with support from MISEREOR in Ratnanagar, Dharan and Kalaiya. This case is about the transformation of a community in Ratnanagar prepared on the basis of the conversation with Ms. Urmila Paswan, President of Doval Tole Lane Organization.
A Case of Community Transformation
My name is Urmila Paswan. I am the President of Dovan Tole. I came here in the community with my parents when I was around 6-7 years. There were very few houses. The community is more covered with bushes and the open spaces around was being used to bury the dead body. As my father said, when he built our house here he had to clear the human bones. Even at that time, the forest guard and the manager did not allow the poor people to stay. They had believed that people harm animals in the forest and they used to come early in the morning to burn the houses and in the late evening the poor people again they used to build the shed to live in. The people and the community were totally isolated and deprived. No one around the community used to care the people and the community here just because we are the land less people, the squatters. If we wear new clothes, people used to believe that we conducted something wrong to earn the money. People just used to humiliate the people in this community. Once I was badly humiliated by the person whom I have good relation now-a-days. I protested and had hot discussion then. The humiliation that I faced on that day drove me to call a community meeting the next day. Through the meeting we decided to register our community. People in the community supported me and we processed for registration. Initially, the Executive Officer of the Ratnanagar Municipality refused to register the community as we are living in squatted land but we dropped our application for necessary action. Since then we, people in this community, unite together for every problems and issues. We are even protecting the forest from deforestation. Now the community forest officers are positive towards us and supporting us for development. The community is registered now. In the meantime, LUMANTI intervened its program focusing for the community. I feel, LUMANTI is the first organization in Ratnanagar that supports and empowers the people for better living. LUMANTI supported us in many ways, it taught us to be self dependent and empower us to fight for our rights. Now with the initiation from the community people and support from LUMANTI, we are being able to have road access. After my learning visit to Kathmandu with support from LUMANTI, I understood that access to water is the rights of all. Once, even the local vehicle in the city refused to pick us just because we are squatters. We fight with them and the situation has changed now. We also went to electricity office to bring the electric line here. Now we have applied for black topping the road in the community. The municipality has agreed to provide the budget. We are ready to contribute Rs. 5000/- from each household for the road upgrading works. After the completion of water pipeline which is ongoing, we will start for road upgrading.
Earlier, there was no one to support. I had to live with fear that someone comes and forces me to live. I was worried for my children. After this achievement, I feel that I am the permanent resident of this community. Everyone here supports me. I feel that I am a human now, the whole community people are alive now.
- Ananta Raj Bajracharya