3 - Ms. Tulasha Devkota: A Lesson in Unity

Publish by : Karine Létourneau

With yesterday’s power outage behind us, we can now get in touch with Ms. Tulasha Devkota. As she lives in the westernmost region of Nepal, she must unfortunately compose with such limits of resources and services daily. The remoteness and harsh topography of the area have hindered its development. However, these challenges have not kept our guest from thriving.

She lives in the town of Dhangadhi, which sits on the Indian border. This geographical feature impacts life and business in both negative and positive ways. It creates a fertile ground for illegal activities, which means that there is an increased police presence in the area. However, Ms. Tulasha Devkota believes that the pros outweigh the cons, especially when it comes to business. As the price of some goods is lower in India, many folks cross the border to buy items in bulk that they will then sell in Nepal for a profit.

Not involved in this type of trade, our interviewee’s income generating activities include vegetable farming and handcrafting. She is part of a group of women who work together as equals to manufacture a range of 126 home decor items including trays, vases, and cushions. Her goal is to bring the business further by taking it online. Talking about her craft brings up the light in her eyes. She shows us a very colorful flower bouquet that is made in a style unique to the west of Nepal.

Conducted in Nepali, the interviews sound like music to my ears. Not understanding the language gives me a lot of time for observing. My eyes are delighted by our guest’s outfit and surroundings. The walls are turquoise with a red trim. She is wearing a bright yellow top accessorized with a blue and yellow patterned scarf. Looking at my reflection on the screen, I suddenly find my grey room and black sweater a tad sad. I really wish I could be on location, so to take in the full color spectrum.

Unlike our first two participants, Ms. Tulasha Devkota’s involvement with WECCSL is recent. In 2015, an administrative restructuring of Nepal divided the country into seven provinces instead of five development regions. Therefore, this meant that WECCSL had to expand and create more partnerships so it could keep its status of nationwide network. Among its new members was the Bishwa Jyoti Mahila Bikas cooperative, presided by our guest.

From humble beginnings with a member base of 85 women in 2058 BS, which corresponds to 2002, the cooperative regroups now about 1 200. In addition to loans and savings facilitation, the organization’s activities include skills development and leadership training. Its mission is to empower women and society at large as everybody can benefit from the cooperative movement. To do so, it has established various partnerships with governmental and non-governmental organizations.

In addition to her many ventures listed above, Ms. Tulasha Devkota also acts as a coordinator for province number seven. In that capacity, she communicates with various actors of the local entrepreneurial community to bring projects to fruition, including the creation of an outlet which has unfortunately stalled because of the pandemic and insufficient resources. Therefore, her days are very busy. She shares her time between an array of meetings and home visits to the members of the cooperative during which she provides them with sensible advice. I couldn’t be more thankful that she devoted time to today’s interview.

As seeking new networking opportunities and empowering women are dear to her, the partnership with WECCSL came about naturally. She is glad that she could participate in the computer literacy training but most of all, she is happy to be a part of WECCSL’s family. She is very pleased with the members’ positive attitude and their active involvement. Being in contact with them inspires her and I am sure she inspires them too. She believes that it is when women unite around a common vision that local opportunities can emerge.

At the very end of the interview, she tells us how delighted she is that she got to share her story with us. As I thank her and assure her that the feeling is mutual, she invites me to visit her in Nepal, which I will gladly do when the occasion comes. I feel so privileged that I had the chance to meet her and I long for this text to convey the light she brings to the world.


Image: Ms. Tulasha Devkota during our interview / Handicrafts made by the women of the Bishwa Jyoti Mahila Bikas cooperative

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