As a 13 year old, not everyone has to drop out of school and work to support their family.
Bishnu had to. Now 23 years old, he shares, “I studied till eighth grade. Then, my family was not able to support my education and I had to drop out of school. After leaving school, I started working at a shoe shop making shoes.” Once engaged in work, he continued and found another, as a driver of a public microbus and a delivery van dropping shoe orders to retail stores, simultaneously.
He enjoyed driving, but found himself away from his family in Nuwakot District as all the big companies that could pay decent salary were in the capital city, Kathmandu. So, he had to stay away from home and found very little time to visit his parents.
Being the only son, his parents were anxious. As simple farmers, they felt downhearted that they could not provide enough for their son to stay at home and enjoy a normal childhood. Instead, they had to wait for more than months to see him and that too for a very short time.
Bishnu was aware of this and wanted an alternative - a way he could earn better doing what he liked but without having to remain far from home.
In mid-2017 when he was visiting home in Aangaputar, Nuwakot he heard about an excavator training being organised Community For Business Development Promotion Society with support from Global Affairs Canada and World Vision. Excited, he decided to leave his job and attend the three-month training. Although, he was risking not getting paid for the training period, he felt certain that his hard work would pay off in the future.
And it has indeed. Initially at the training, when he began handling the huge machine, he was scared to even break a small rock, thinking that small pieces of rocks would come hurling at the screen in front of him. Eventually, he learnt how to steady the lever and alongside 13 other trainees, time seemed to move quickly.
He also utilised the platform to build local contacts so that he would be able to receive jobs more close to home. Soon after the training, he found himself working as a helper to an excavator operator at a sand mine in Nuwakot, much closer to his home.
There, he is being paid basic salary NRs. 3,000 (US$ 30) every month plus a daily wage of NRs. 300 (US$ 3) for every day at work. Currently, he is working 28 days a month and he is able to save as much as he used to earn while driving delivery vans. The difference is that, all his earning from his previous job would be spent on paying rent, food and other expenses, he would hardly save any money, let alone be able to send some home. At present, things are looking different, as his food and accommodation costs are bore by the contractor he works for, he was able to save all his earning which is around NRs.12,000 (US$ 120).
After being able to save almost all of his earnings, he has been able to provide financial support at home. His house that was completely destroyed during the April 2015 earthquakes, is being rebuilt but Bishnu’s family had to take a loan amounting to around NRs. 3,00,000 (US$ 3,000) in order to do this. While Bishnu’s earning is contributing to pay back the loan in instalments, he hopes that if promoted to an excavator operator, he will be able to completely pay back the loans.
Having had worked from a small age, Bishnu had to work hard, costing him his comfort as well as his family time. Even then, as his earning was not sufficient, he had begun to think of going abroad for better paying job opportunities. After his recruitment as a helper at the sand mine, he has stopped thinking about going abroad since he is able to earn fairly well without compromising with his family time.
“I am really happy that my only son is working nearby. We get to see him every week or so. I hope that as he fairs well at what he does, he will support us more,” says Kamala, his 46-year-old mother.
In order to enable vulnerable community members establish sustainable income generating activities and increase their chances in engaging in formal employment, 200 people from Nuwakot district have received vocational training on tailoring, excavator operating, mobile repairing, etc. All of this has been possible with the support of Global Affairs Canada.