Distribution of relief items to Musahars in Saptari


On 4th January we headed for the Musahar settlement of Saptari district from Kathmandu via Banepa-Sindhuli-Bardibas road (or BP Highway). We reached Bardibas of Mahottari district and stopped there for the night. The next day (5th January), we moved towards Saptari district through Dhalkabar in Dhanusha district and Lahan, the headquarters of Siraha. Before reaching the district headquarters, Rajbiraj, we got off at Kathauna of Sambhunath municipality and headed towards the Musahar settlement along the East-West highway.

As we entered the settlement, many pathetic sights greeted us. Children of Musahar were trembling in the midst of dense and chilly fog, while others were making fire from dry hay. We realized that it had been a daily routine of the Musahar community to huddle around ember of Guintha (cow-dung- briquette) during winter. They were compelled to sit around fire to escape the cold wave. To add to their woes, there is no forest nearby because of which they have not been able to keep themselves warm. Notwithstanding all these odd circumstances, the Musahar children were seen playing in their neighborhood.  That really seemed like a foreign world.

Our organization ISDRI Nepal had worked together with Samriddha Nepal to distribute relief items to the inhabitants of Musahar community at Kathauna. We handed out warm clothes, quilts and beddings targeting 46 households of Kathauna. We had to distribute the quilts and beddings to every single house. The relief items were distributed to two dense settlements along the highway. Representatives of every household were gathered and handed out the relief by calling their names one by one. The Musahar community’s surname was Sada.

The Musahars didn’t know that we were there to distribute relief to them. The program was a surprise for them.  Seventy-two-year-old Phulsariya Devi was reduced to tears, when we draped her with Pashmina shawl while distributing the relief. “I feel the God has appeared himself right in front of me,” said Phulsariya, “From which world did you come, Babu? You’ve proved it that there are kind and spiritual people like you.”  The relief distribution program turned calm for a moment. All kinds of people including children, youth, middle-aged, and elderly had converged at the relief distribution program. Some of the participating Musahars were differently-abled, visually-impaired and mentally-retarded.

Like everyone else, Mausam Sada, a 3rd grader at local school, was also exuberant. “It was quite difficult to write because of the cold. Now I can write because of these warm gloves,” she said.  Another 4th grader at Mausam’s school, Chandan Sada, said he was equally happy.

The Musahar communities of this place are living below the poverty line. According to census, Saptari district is home to the second most dense Musahar settlement after Siraha. Musahar is one of the most backward Dalit communities living in Nepal’s southern Terai-Madhes plains. They have their own culture, lifestyle and social values. They live in small cottages and can’t afford to build concrete houses due to extreme poverty. As they are simple and known for their high degree of honesty, they have their separate identity established in Nepal.

ISDRI Nepal Chairman Mohan Gyawali says he picked Musahar for the relief distribution based the aforementioned reasons. Irish citizen Luxmi Petticrew and her family extended financial aid for the relief, and German national Monika Herweg, Susanne Seethaler and her friends supported the relief by collecting clothes. They expressed their readiness to extend support under the leadership of ISDRI Nepal Chairman Gyawali.

Proprietor duo of Samriddha Nepal, Jitendra Pun and Juna Ghartimagar also lend their hands to work together with Chairman Gyawali. “Though the support seems small, it was pleasing to be present among the community in person and distribute the relief items,” said the duo. “It was really satisfying from the heart to see the Musahars become happy.”

The relief items were distributed with the help of local knowledgeable people and police administratin.