Livelihoods for those affected by HIV
December 2009; To help People Living With HIV (PLWH) to lead a normal life, the UNDP Nepal HIV Programme, together with UNDP's Micro Enterprise Development Programme (MEDEP), the National Entrepreneurs Development Centre (NEDC) and Community Support Group, a rehabilitation centre in the Kaski district, conducted a workshop on how to run and improve a business.
The NEDC conducted two trainings 'Start and Improve Your Business' of 9 days each in Kaski for a total of 32 participants- all of them PLWHA. A small loan from the Dhaulagiri Savings and Credit Cooperative was arranged by the training centre for the needy participants to enable them to start their business after the training was over.
Lekhnath Adhikary, 39, a successful fruits and vegetable seller today in Kaski, Pokhara thanks the National Entrepreneurs Development Center (NEDC) supported by UNDP HIV Programme and the Micro-enterprise Development Programme for changing his life.
'My 12 years in India as migrant labourer cost me dearly. My wife was also infected by HIV/AIDS and then our new born daughter as well,' he says.
The family was surviving on the medication provided by the Community Support Group (CSG), a treatment and rehabilitation center for People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHAs) in Pokhara. It wasn't easy feeding a family of five that included a 70 year old mother, a wife and two children. The guilt and the social discrimination that Lekhnath faced, added to his depression and led him to become completely bed ridden. 'Penniless and grief stricken, my family was only waiting for death to come,' he remembers.
When the CSG identified Lekhnath and his family and sent them on a nine day entrepreneurship and skills development training' Start and Improve Your Business, Lekhnath and his family got a second chance to live their life. During the training he was counseled and trained. He then could access enough loan from the Dhaulagiri Savings and Loan Cooperative, a local financial institution.
Today, Lekhnath can be seen as a successful salesman taking his fruits and vegetables cart to different parts of the city. He says, 'My confidence has increased and I feel I have to do something. My health has improved significantly and I weigh more than 50kgs as compared to 28 kgs before.' He has already paid the entire loan that he got for buying the cart and has managed to save a little over Rs. 10,000.
Ram Bahadur Nepali, 33, from Gorkha had already given up fighting for his life after contracting HIV virus while working as a migrant labourer in Malaysia. He sank into severe depression, 'I thought my life was over and that I would not be able to do anything,' he says.
When the Community Support Group'a Rehabilitation Centre, identified Ram Bahadur and his wife for the Start and Improve Your Business (SIYB) package training program there was much more to look forward to. After taking the training, the couple opted to take loan from Dhaulagiri Savings and Loan Cooperative to buy a boat which could be used to ferry tourists in a local lake.
Together with the Rs. 7000 that the couple received from the cooperative and some amount borrowed from elsewhere, Ram and his wife bought a boat. 'I earn anywhere between Rs 200-500 a day,' he says. They have even planned to buy another boat to double their income and have approached the CSG for help. They are paying their due installments in time. Although their savings are not very high, Ram Bahadur and his wife are in a much better state. He says, 'I have learnt that one must never give up. Today, I am on my way to independence.'
The field coordinator for National Entrepreneurs Development Center (NEDC), Mr. Tulsi Subedi says, 'the training has brought a big difference in their lives, and suddenly they have found a new meaning in life.'