People's Stories

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JLO Increases Family Happiness

Early in the morning last 15 May, the VDC hall of Khayermara VDC of Mahottari was full. Men and women from different VDCs were seated in rows. In front were local leaders from different political parties, the VDC secretary, local school teachers, and representatives of other local organizations. A banner read "Samyukta Purja Sibir" (JLO encampment), piquing the interest of passersby. The event was a JLO camp organized in honor of the couples who already had JLO, in hopes that other couples would similarly be motivated to register for JLO.

Ten couples were recognized during the program. They in turn shared their experiences, particularly about how their lives had changed after acquiring JLO. The entire audience was enthusiastic to hear about the story of one elderly couple – Daulat Singh Ghising, 68 years old, and Sancha Maaya Ghising, 65 years old. They have been married since 1970, living in public land. In 2006, they bought 0.167 hectares of land. Seven years later, they got a JLO.

A man of few words, Daulat merely smiled, and said, “Ramraie lagyo.” (I felt good). Sancha Maaya blushed a little while telling her story: "Mero logne ko jhagada harayo. Paila paila kumlo kuturo bokera hinchu bhantheye. Je kurama pani risaune bani thiyo. Kati palta hinnupani bhayo. Samyukta purja banayepachi dhamkauna hareko cha."(My husband used to terrify me and would pick quarrels with me. He would threaten to leave the house. Many times he did leave, but returned. He would get short-tempered by small things. But after we got JLO, he ceased yelling at me and terrifying me.). She added that once, when they had already gotten their JLO, he was drunk and started a quarrel and threatened to sell the property and leave her. She quickly answered that he could no longer do that as she is an equal owner of the property.

Asked what motivated them to get JLO at their age, their son Krishna Bahadur Ghising replied that it was the land rights forum, particularly Bir Bahadur, the local land rights activist, which was advocating for JLO in the village. He had no registered land of his own, so he advised Bir Bahadur to approach his father instead, with a warning that his father did not listen to anyone. He himself had grown weary of his father, moving out and building a small house on public land. But he remained worried about his mother. “She never seemed happy. So I thought that a JLO might help her. When Bir Bahadur informed me that my father was ready to go for JLO, I was very happy for both my parents, but especially for my mother.” Bir Bahadur recalls that regular meetings were what convinced Daulat Singh. “I almost had five long conversations on JLO, and finally, I succeeded.”

 


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Equality Begins at Home

Fifty-year-old Jitendra Bhattarai lives in Karmaiya of Sarlahi with his mother, wife and three daughters. His wife Devmaya is 44. Jitendra and Devmaya are married for 28 years now. They have five daughters, two of whom are married and settled in Mahottari. Two of their daughters are studying in school and one of them is staying at home, helping her parents.

In a society that prioritizes boys over girls, it has been difficult for Devmaya who is a mother of five girls. Her 75 year old mother-in-law always wished to have a grandson. She often proposed her son to re-marry. This kept Devmaya and her relatives worried most of the times. However Jitendra kept denying and didn’t re-marry.
In 2012, after the government endorsed Joint Land Ownership (JLO) policy through budget speech (financial bills), Community Self Reliance Center (CSRC) and National Land Rights Forum
(NLRF) who are the main actors in bringing about the policy, conducted widespread JLO campaigns. The main activities in the campaigns were door-to door visit and couple counseling on equal rights of women in land, the importance of JLO certificate and equal stake of men and women both over a piece of land they own.
Regarding the same, Ambika Adhikari, an activist from District Land Rights Forum (DLRF)Mahottari met the couple at their home in 2013. She met Jitendra and his wife couple of times for counseling sessions. In the first meeting, she had only introduced the couple about JLO. The JLO policy simply ensures women’s stake over land. The policy is set on principles of gender equality, allowing a couple to register land in the name of both husband and wife.
It was not very difficult for Ambika to convince the couple who were seen willing to adopt JLO from the initial meetings. “Along with me, my wife was excited too” said Jitendra. However it took him around two months to convince his mother. When his mother knew about the policy and that his son and daughter in law were willing to adopt it, She often said to Demaya- “Why do you need property when my son is still alive?”.She is not very happy with the idea even now, said Jitendra.
With help of Ambika and DLRF Mahottari, the Bhattarai couple made a JLO certificatefor 0.5hectare land which previously only Jitendra owned. The process cost them a 100 rupee. The activists facilitate couples willing to acquire JLO on documentation and coordinate with the officials in Land Revenue Offices. As of now, CSRC and NLRF jointly have helped 4142 couples acquire JLO for 1405.16 hectare area of land.

“I saw my wife’s eyes filled with tears when she was holding the ownership certificate” said Jitendra. Devmaya had often felt insecure after their third daughter. “I never wanted him to re-marry, and thankfully he didn’t despite family pressure” she said.
According to Devmaya, JLO has not only made her feel secure yet but has given her a feeling of ownership. “I can later divide the property amongst my daughterequally, no matter what happens now”, she added.
Devmaya and Jitendra are amongst the first couple to make JLO certificate in Sarlahi and an exemplary to their community. “People in the community are now understanding why JLO is a good practice...we thank the DLRF for such widespread campaigns”, said Jitendra in contentment. Further, the couple has used the JLO certificate as collateral in the bank to renovate their house and to invest in livestock.



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Dreams destroyed by the earthquake My house is destroyed where do I go?

Chetansheel Village Land Rights Forum, Dhaibung -1, Itpaare, Rasuwa's Chair Murali Nepali is very tensed. He is also a member of DLRF Rasuwa. He is 57 years old. His family consists of his wife, 2 sons, 1 daughter in law and 1 granddaughter. In 2057 B.S. he had made a house in an Ailani land. Belonging from a landless family since generations, Murali lived in Loknath Neupane's personal land prior to living in an ailani land. When he was not allowed to stay there for a long time, he asked for support from DLRF Rasuwa founder and Chair, Bhawani Prasad Neupane. As a result, he started residing in an ailani land in a community firest. Murali felt that he could be secured through this house, however the disastrous earthquake destroyed his dreams as his house was completely damaged.
His house along with livestock was destroyed as well. He was planning to sell the livestock in order to manage expenses for the festival of Dashain. The house that had been built through loans has turned into ashes. I don’t have my own land. In order to sustain, he had to work as a low income laborer. Now all we have been doing is looking at this destroyed house and waiting for help for relief. This earthquake has destroyed everything.
Murali has been active in the land rights movement since 2063 B.S. Along with him, 40 other houses from the village have been destroyed completely. Fear is increasing as monsoon is approaching soon. Murali along with the other 40 families are temporarily residing in a tent in their village.
The government has been distributing some relief materials, however the temporary homes cannot be permanent due to the constantly occurring heavy rains and thunderstorms. As low income laborers, we cannot construct a house on our own, we are hoping that somebody would help us.





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Enhanced Power to Claim for Rights

In Bharatpur VDC, Mahottari there is a Sada community (Dalit). In 2010 DLRF Mahottari organized a meeting to establish a VLRF. Consequently, 27 households from the community came together to form the Ranga Lal Village Land Rights Forum in Bharatpur VDC-1. All of the community members earned their livelihoods through labouring. For a full day’s work each individual only received NPR 120 ($1.4) from the landowners. VLRF members organized a campaign to demand a wage increase. The campaign and subsequent rally saw other community members joining the cause and refusing to till the landlord’s land which remained fallow during the productive season. Before returning to work, those campaigning were able to secure an increase in their wages to NPR 200 ($2.34) from the landlords. As a result of regular discussions at the Land Learning Centre, VLRF members were also able to utilize 0.33 ha of fallow land in Bharatpur-1. They received tilling certificates from the VDC Office with the agreement to utilize the land for a further 40 years. On the same land, members have developed a fish pond on 0.2 ha of land using NPR 26,000 ($305) received from the VDC. As a result of selling fish a total of NPR 10,000 ($117) has been deposited in the movement fund.