ONE WOMAN'S JOURNEY AS A COMMUNITY ANIMAL HEALTH WORKER
Rita Kumari Bhujel, 46, works as a Community Agro-Vet Entrepreneurs (CAVE) in a remote hill village of Tanahu district. She provides basic veterinary services to farming families in her village of Raipur. In Nepal, livestock is not just an asset but a way of life. To celebrate a joyous occasion, people feast on them or at a time of need it can be quickly converted into cash. A cow can mean symbol of prosperity for the family while a goat can keep them company. So for farmers, having access to veterinary service in their own village can be of huge relief. For instance when she was able to save a pregnant buffalo and her calf which was having difficulty in giving birth because of the awkward position its' fetus was in. She added, "“The buffalo was in a lot of stress and so was the family. The mother of the family had been crying all night as her husband had bought the buffalo before passing away recently. For her it was his last keepsake. Her daughter in law was also crying as losing the buffalo would mean no milk for her toddler.”
As a young girl, Rita aspired to become an athlete. While she was in Kathmandu for National Volley Ball team try outs, she was suddenly summoned back to her village by her family. She shares, “Later I found out that they had already fixed my marriage. I felt bitter and betrayed. My dreams were left incomplete.” In 2013, Rita was selected to receive Community Animal Health Worker training under Heifer’s “Evaluating the Welfare Impact of a Livestock Transfer Program in Nepal” project. In addition to the 35 days training, she also received a microscope, cool box, weighing machine, castrator and a small startup fund for her Agro-vet shop. For Rita, this is her second chance to fulfill her dreams. She shares, “My children are grown up now. My husband is at home and helps me in household chores. Now I am free to pursue my dreams. I am determined to continue with this work as long as I can provide the service.
Heifer has invested so much on me. Now it is time to pay back.” Rita’s service is helping farmers in her community to save their valuable livestock assets. She has also been able to makes decent earning for herself. Heifer has trained and mobilized 308 CAVEs in 32 districts of Nepal with the aim of increasing smallholders’ farm capacity and improving their access to community based livestock service systems.
By Alina Karki, Communication Officer