I am Sharmila from Chitwan. I am a facilitator for the project run by Equal Access and Vijaya Development Resource Centre. I am responsible for facilitating a group discussion which takes place among 10 married women in our village…

We have had training in facilitation, life skills and knowledge about gender. After the first training, I came back to my village and formed a group of 10 women who meet every week and listen to the radio program. After listening to the program, we discuss the various topics raised, mainly related to building a smooth and happy relationship between husbands and wives – free of any forms of violence.

One of the important things we have learnt from the project is that if we want to change our community then we need to start from ourselves and our family. After we become a good example ourselves, then individuals and families around us will make changes in themselves…and that is how an individual can bring change in her community.

When we first started having the discussions, my members were always in a rush to leave. But these days they call me to remind me about the meeting. They tell me that they have noticed many changes in themselves. When I ask them what kind of changes, they tell me that they used to get angry very quickly and didn’t really listen to anyone. But these days they know that listening to others is very important, which helps in building a better relationship. They have also realized that getting angry gets you nowhere, and can lead to violence.

It is not easy to change our habits overnight, but coming to these weekly meetings has definitely been helpful. We listen to the radio program and talk, when we go home we take the learning from the discussion and practice it at home. After a few days we may forget about it but going to the sessions every week helps us to reinforce and remember. Slowly, over time, we have all been going through several changes over the last 5 months.

Out of all the training and learning, I have found effective communication skills to be the most useful…It has helped me a lot to improve my relationship with my family members. The project has also helped me to be self-aware. Before participating in the project, I never thought about who I was and what it was that I liked or disliked. This project has helped me to start thinking about me – what are the things that are important for me. The other important learning has been empathy. This has helped me think about others as well. Whenever someone upsets me, I always put myself in their shoes and think how they might feel. This has given me a totally different view of all of my relationships. I now see the world totally differently. I am a much more positive person compared to how I was earlier.

The way community members see me has also changed since I participated in this project. These days they regard me as someone  important in the community and respect me more. Even people who never used to talk to me, stop if I run into them and talk to me. Many people come and tell me that there should be more than 10 members in the group. Many come and ask me to let them take part in the discussions.

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