Raniza lives in a village of Tharu, a population of forest dwellers indigenous to the Himalayan foothills of southern Nepal. A few years ago, she was unable to read or write, and her only source of income was cutting and selling firewood

Like so many women of her village, Raniza lived a life of constant labor—first as a girl and then as a teenage bride. She rarely left the house, had few friends, and had even fewer opportunities for an education.

When ADRA offered literacy and vocational training in her village, she was desperate for the opportunity. Her husband was opposed to it, but relented after ADRA representatives personally explained the benefits of a literate and economically productive wife.

Not only did ADRA teach the women to read, write, and calculate prices at the market, but they also taught leadership, personal finance, and vocational alternatives to deforestation. Following the training, these participants formed groups to provide both financial and emotional support.

Together, these women pooled their resources and contributed to several highly successful income-generating activities that are sustainable and environmentally friendly. These enterprises were so successful that ADRA offered additional training in kitchen gardening and the production of biobriketts, an alternative to firewood.

Now the women have advanced training in agriculture and finance that enables them and their families to prosper.

Raniza began a tailoring business. It had some success, but she wanted to expand to further support her family, so she added a snack shop, and then a small grocery. Now with the three businesses, her family is financially secure and Raniza will never have to cut firewood again.

ADRA recognizes the value of literate and productive women. They contribute to their families, to society, and to their own happiness, creating a positive cycle that will be felt for generations.