A tribute to Late Mathuri Devi Tharu... 

Late Mathuri Devi Tharu, Core Leader
Gajehada, Kapilvastu

This is the story of Late Mathuri Devi Tharu......

A tribute to Late Mathuri Devi Tharu …… 

Late Mathuri Devi Tharu, a former Board Member and a Core Leader of the Mahila Shakti Bikash Kendra Nepal (MSBKN) was affectionately known as ‘Mathuri Didi’ for her community members, a ‘Rebel’ for her Masters and a ‘Freedom fighter’ for bonded labors. 

Her social movement started when she became a President of Village Women’s Group of her VDC in 1954/55 (2051/52 B.S.) and participated in road blockade and demonstration for ‘resettlement of Kamaiyas (bonded labors)’.  Such procession made her to spend couple of nights in jail and during one of her arrest, she got the opportunity to speak with Chief District Officer who advised her to look for ‘Parti-Jamin’ for settlement of Kamaiyas.  

In 1957 (2054 BS), along with other Kamaiyas, she also settled in homeless shelter in Taulihawa, Kapilvastu and insisted all the Kamaiyas to submit their application in Homeless Commission (HC).  At the same time, she threatened HC officials to register all the applications or face the consequences.  With her repeated insistence, all the villagers (Kamaiyas) abandoned their place, who were living in riverbank only with bed, and settled in homeless shelter.  To support this movement, she also started staying in shelter despite having her own place.  Their shelter huts were burnt down twice by the local leaders and residents that made her to hold lengthy discussion with Ranger Mr. Ghana Shyam Tharu, from Bara District.  As a result, Mr. Tharu organized a meeting with political party leaders and government officials in Taulihawa, she spoke in the meeting on behalf of the community especially Kamaiays and poor people.  She strongly argued that, the land taken was ‘Parti-Jamin’ not encroached of any personal land or official land.  All her arguments and discussion were noted by Mr. Tharu who, afterwards, had a meeting with concerned government officials.  Her hard work paid off when Ranger called her to announce that nobody will burnt the huts down anymore since it has been approved to use ‘Parti-Jamin’ for homeless people.  Her persuasiveness and commitment resulted homeless people have their houses built with bricks and foundation.  Being herself as a bonded labor for almost ten years, she faced tremendous domination and humiliations from so called ‘Masters’.  Even these circumstances, she dared to her master’s with pride that her day will come too and if given a chance, she will prove to everybody; which she did with pride. 

Her social movement enhanced furthermore when she got appointed in ‘Siddhartha’ a non-profit organization based in Kapilvastu as ‘Abhiyan-Karmi (Activist)’ in 2061 B.S.  She not only empowered herself but to all community members when she started conducting interaction program in 5 VDCs in which she conducted awareness classes on birth/death/marriage registration, civic rights and benefits.  

Though she travels on bi-cycle to reach these places for program, she reached the place before her supervisor who was on motor-bike.  Her response was “I do not look around but go straight to my destination” – such determination made her famous in her community.  Later on, the MSBKN approached her and assigned her as a Core Leader for Gajeda VDC in Kapilvastu.  On her recommendation, MSBKN assigned three more CLs for three VDCs that were selected as working VDCs for MSBKN.

Her contribution to empower rural women (19 Village Women’s Group in 4 VDCs) socially and economically was phenomenal as she actively involved in providing them training on women’s issues such as domestic violence, women’s rights and leadership skill development.  Credit goes to her for drastic change of socio-economic status of rural women in her community because of her initiation to motivate them to get involved in Income Generation (IG) activities.  And when MSBKN provided matching funds of NC 926,738.00 under its ‘Economic Empowerment Program’, only in her VDC each members in the group collected NC 3000.00 to invest in matching funds.  

She not only motivates other but also portraits herself as an exemplary figure, she learnt to read and write at her latter age through home-school, she took tuition classes for three years.  The first book that she read was ‘Mahila Shashakta’ then ‘Saugat’ and the last one was ‘Laghu-Udhyog’ from which she passed on the learning lessons to Village Women’s Group in keeping IG accounts and orient them about small business and entrepreneurship skills. 

Her good-deeds did not stop there, her bravery and spontaneous action in rescuing seven girls from being trafficked to India in coordination with Maiti-Nepal was well praised by the community members; she got motivated more to work for community and help those who needed the most especially women.  However, her health was not supporting her as she was struggling with breast-cancer.

Till her last days, she was involved in advising VWGs to work nicely and keep unity among themselves.  She used to advise VWGs to be more vigilant for women’s issue in village such as domestic violence, women’s right and fight for equal rights.  She also advised former bonded-labors to educate their children, avoid alcohol, get empowered and work both couples for economic empowerment.  

On the 7th December, 2016, she won the fight against cancer by taking the last breath.  Though she is not with us physically, her struggle and contribution for the betterment of rural women will be remembered from generation to generation.  She was a true inspiration and role model to the members of Mahila Shakti Bikash Kendra Nepal, and communities of Kapilvastu and all rural women who had the privileges of knowing her personally and professionally.   

We miss you “Mathuri Didi”!!!