What could I have done? Since the school was far away from my village, I could not go there every day. In total I only went to school for 3 years. So I also studied at home because I wanted to know how to write letters. Letters would be the only means of communication with my home after marriage. We did not have paper for writing, so I used the wall of my house. My brothers passed SLC (School Leaving Certificate) and tutored me.

When I was 18, my parents arranged my marriage to a Nepali man. First my uncle got married to my future husband’s sister. After that my husband and I got married. I was born in India, so I moved to Nepal after my wedding. At the beginning I felt lucky, because my husband’s family was rich. But my husband did not have his own income and therefore we depended on his family. When the family’s land was divided between all four brothers each share was very little.

When my husband died I did not have the money to take care of my two sons and two daughters. But I had learned painting from my mother. My neighbor told me about the JWDC and I showed my paintings and I was chosen. Now I have been working for the JWDC for 16 years.

My favorite design depicts the barsait ritual. This ritual has to be performed by brides in the first year of their marriage. All brides of a village go together and worship the gods at a bar tree. When I joined the JWDC I could only paint a few designs, but now I am able to paint many others. At the JWDC I also learned to discuss openly, to go out independently and even to talk to strangers. Since I earn money I can support my family. My children do not want me to come to the JWDC anymore. They are worried because I am getting old. But I still come because I have my friends here.