A house for the Nepali family


Pampha Nepali never learnt to read and write, and yet at age 50 uses a measurement tape to stitch blouses for her customers. It is that determination that led her to start building a house in Sitapaila two years after the earthquake, even though she had no money for it.

Nepali lost her husband 17 years ago when her children were very young. She continued to live in their home, even though her in-laws tried to drive her out. She and the two children now live in a small plot even though her father-in-law refused to pass the property in her name, fearing she might run away with another man if he did. 

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When the earthquake destroyed their home, Pampha Nepali and her children built a little tin shed in the corner of the property and lived there for two years. She toiled in her tailoring shop 12 hours a day, never taking a break, to feed and educate her children.

Ideally, Nepali would have signed an agreement with the NRA and got money from the government to build her home. But since the land deeds were not in her name, she was unable to do so. Instead, she took loans from friends and started construction. The money kept running out, and it took her 15 months for the structure, which still lacks a proper roof. 

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The family has a house to live in, but Pampha Nepali is now starting to worry about paying her loans. Her son just passed Grade 12 and decided to stop studying and start working to help out with expenses. 

Nepali also worries what will happen to the house when she is no longer around. 

Everyone knows that the land belongs to my husband and it is mine by right. So I have stayed there by force of will, even though my in-laws continue to ostracise me,” she says. “But I still don’t have the deeds, and they could throw out my children when I am gone.”

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