Breaking the Cycle of Debt and Exploitation: A Case Study of Shovit Ram

Rural Reconstruction Nepal (RRN) is a Nepali non-governmental, not-for-profit, social development organization, committed to driving positive change and empowerment in Nepal's rural communities.

Shovit Ram, a resident of Surunga Municipality in Saptari District, had been working as a herdsman for years, taking care of his owner’s fields before being allowed to tend to his own. His family of eight struggled to sustain themselves due to the lack of fertile land and fertilizer, resulting in inadequate crop growth. To make matters worse, Shovit Ram’s wife fell ill, leading him to take a loan of NRs 150,000 from the owner, with an exorbitant interest rate of 36% per annum. Unable to repay the debt, they were forced to work for free in the owner’s house as a form of interest payment.

After the implementation of the Freedom from Forced Labour and Modern Slavery Project by Rural Reconstruction Nepal, Shovit Ram was appointed as the Chairman of the Municipality-level Harwa-Charwa Committee established under the project. This role brought awareness of his rights and provided an opportunity for change. Realizing the injustices he had been subjected to, Shovit Ram made the decision to leave his job with the owner and began working on other people’s land.

Although Shovit Ram may not be entirely satisfied with his current work situation, he feels a sense of liberation from the burden of debt imposed by the moneylender. By assuming a leadership position and gaining awareness of his rights through the project, Shovit Ram has taken significant steps toward breaking the cycle of debt and exploitation.

Shovit Ram’s journey highlights the transformative impact of the Freedom from Forced Labour and Modern Slavery Project. By empowering individuals like Shovit Ram and enabling them to understand their rights, the project has paved the way for positive change. Shovit Ram’s decision to break free from the exploitative work arrangement and pursue alternative employment signifies a crucial step towards a more equitable and dignified life. His case underscores the importance of addressing issues of forced labor and empowering individuals to assert their rights in marginalized communities.

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