Komal Thakkar (Nepal)

Komal Thakkar is a graduate student at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University studying gender and development economics. She is passionate about a number of issue areas as they relate to women and girls including education, livelihood strategies and workforce development, and transitional justice. Prior to Fletcher, Komal worked in US based education nonprofits in New York City. She supported fundraising initiatives at an international education organization called Pencils of Promise, implemented programs at a mentoring and career development organization for first generation college students called America Needs You, and worked in program evaluation at a school leadership development organization called New Leaders. After Fletcher, Komal would like to pursue a career advancing the rights of women in an international development organization. Komal completed her bachelor's degree at the George Washington University and is a New Jersey native. In her free time, she enjoys dance and yoga.



Kushma Chaudhari

28 Aug

During our first trip to Bardiya, Prabal, Sarita, and I visited the Bardiya National Park to see if the gift shop would sell the embroidery cooperative’s tiger bags. After going to the park, we took a short rickshaw ride to Kushma Chaudhari’s house. Kushma is one of the most talented artists in the embroidery cooperative.

Kushma Chaudhari

Kushma was working in the field, so we waited until she returned. In the meantime, we had some samosas and chai from her family’s shop next to their house. Her house is next to a school, so we watched as children visited the shop to purchase a quick treat before school started.

Kushma’s family makes samosas here for their shop.

When Kushma arrived, we went into her house. Sarita chatted with Kushma for a few minutes, introduced me, and then explained that we were making a short video about NEFAD’s work and the embroidery cooperative. Kushma agreed to answer some questions for the video, so I started asking questions in English. Prabal and Sarita translated.

Kushma was soft spoken at first but eventually became more comfortable. Kushma begins her day by milking cows after which she starts the housework. During cropping season, she goes to the farm after the housework is complete. When she has time, she also helps out at the family’s shop.

She was very young when her father was disappeared. Although her memories of the conflict are not vivid, she was reminded of her father’s absence when she was in school and everyone else had their father. When she was short of stationary, pens, and notebooks, she used to think about him a lot. She explains that if he were alive, he would have bought them for her. Kushma doesn’t think her father will return.

Kushma and Prabal talking

Kushma enjoys working with the embroidery cooperative. She makes embroidery squares at night after the day’s work is complete. She expresses that she would like to work on the embroidery on a regular basis.

After we finished asking questions, Kushma continued to talk with Sarita and Prabal in Nepali, so I took some photos and then sat down to see of I could grasp a few words. After a little while, Prabal explained that they were talking about how Sarita and Kushma would love to open their own store near the park to sell their bags and other handicrafts. Rent is only about 2000 rupees a month, a cost which could be covered by the sale of 1 -2 bags once production increases. I was incredibly excited to hear about this goal for the cooperative, and I hope it becomes a reality. To support Kushma and the other women of the Bardiya Conflict Victims Cooperative in working towards their goal, please visit and share the Global Giving page to raise money for embroidery supplies.

Posted By Komal Thakkar (Nepal)

Posted Aug 28th, 2018

1 Comment

  • Corinne Cummings

    August 29, 2018

     

    Komal — loved reading this interview, Kushma sounds like a lovely person! I also remember her story, Kushma’s memorial square was very touching and beautifully made. I appreciated that she also shared her story with you. It was a brilliant idea to add these two interviews — your hard work is very commendable. Good luck with your future studies and endeavors. Best, Corinne

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