Dipayal- Gauri Khadka, a resident of Ward No. 4 of K.I. Singh Rural Municipality, has a three-year-old son. After completing her household chores, she has to leave the house for work.
“It was difficult to look after the child and work simultaneously. Last year, when my son was two-year-old, I used to lock him inside the house and go to work,” remembers Khadka.
According to her, sometimes she didn’t even have time to feed snack to her son, and would remain stressed throughout the work. “I used to run back home as soon as the work was finished. He would be in a dire situation waiting for me,” said Khadka.
In the same ward, Goma Bhatta has three children. She also remembers the time when she used to leave her children at home and go for work throughout the day.
“I left my children in a crib when they were only six-month-old. I even tied their legs to the crib. When I returned, they would be lying on the ground. They would have urinated and excreted in their clothes. It was not a scene that a mother wants to see; however, it was our compulsion,” said Bhatta.
While child-rearing has been difficult for the mothers of K.I. Singh Rural Municipality in the past, the situation has changed now after a Community Childcare Centre (CCC) came into operation.
New mothers in the region informed that they can go to work freely as they can leave their children at the centre, which looks after them properly.
The CCC was established under the joint support of K.I. Singh Rural Municipality, European Union and EDC under the Pariwartan Project of DCA.
The centre looks after children below five years of age while the mothers go to work. Two “mother teachers”, which translates to “aama sikshika” in Nepali, are also deployed to look after the children and introduce them alphabet.
“We also organise sports activities and teach them moral behaviour during their time at the centre. There are also good sleeping spaces for children,” said Lalita Kumari Bam, a teacher at the centre. A total of 31 mothers are leaving their children at the centre from 11 am to 5 pm daily. The centre also provides lunch to the children.
“Mothers find it very difficult to leave their children alone at home. They would return home to see their children sick and injured. The centre has been a boon to working mothers as they are now stress-free after leaving their children with us,” said Bam.
“There were risks of leaving the children at home. I can work freely after leaving my child at the centre. My child’s health is also improving,” said Laxmi Bhatta, a mother who leaves her child at the CCC.
The children are looked after until they are capable of going to school. The care centre tries to ensure that a child is at least able to identify alphabets while its time to leave the centre.
“We have constructed similar centres in a total of five different villages across the country in coordination with the local governments,” said Narendra BK, Pariwartan’s coordinator.
K.I. Singh’s Chairman Lokendra Bahadur Shahi informed that they plan to expand similar centres in other parts of the local level.
“The centre has been beneficial for new mothers. It has been more effective during monsoon when women are busier in the fields,” said Shahi.
Shahi added, “Women in our village do not prefer or cannot afford staying at home looking after children. We are, thus, bound to manage proper environment for childrearing for them.”
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