Twenty-year-old Binita lost her family home to the April 2015 earthquake that devasted Nepal 2 years ago and has been rebuilding her community ever since.
“When the earthquake happened I was working on our farm. I was with my brother and sister. I saw the house start shaking and I grabbed my siblings. For a moment, I was afraid, but after the shaking stopped, I regained my confidence. I had to be strong for my brother and sister," she says.
“Our house collapsed, which made me so sad. We had to build a temporary house made out of wood, and with a reed mat cover."
The only female mason in her village
Women can do anything that a man can do
Eager to rebuild her life, Binita decided to join a 7-day masonry training course with the support of Plan International and received a certification from the government of Nepal. As a certified mason, she can seek employment with companies in formal construction.
“So far, I have fully constructed three homes, and am currently rebuilding another house. It takes two months to complete a house,” says Binita. She still lives in her uncle’s house with her immediate family after the earthquake destroyed their home.
Binita, who passed her high school exams and studied until she was 17, was the only woman in her area who took part in the training offered by Plan International.
“This training was new to me, but I feel lucky that even though I am a female, I can do masonry work and support the construction of my neighbours’ homes. After the training, I can say that women can do anything a man can do.
"Women need to provide for their family, but also have the opportunity to stand on their own feet. Now, I am feeling proud to be a woman who supports her family and works as female mason in the community. I can be an example to all the young women who are jobless."
Challenging social stigma
Before the masonry training, people told Binita that she wouldn’t be able to rebuild homes.
“For a while, people would ask me: ‘Why are you working in construction? Why are you doing their work?’ There is a social stigma. But throughout the work, the male masons have always stood up for me, encouraging me to do my best work.
“Now as a mason, I carry brick and stones, make plaster and support the male masons to construct walls. The masonry training was really useful. I learned how to build safe, earthquake-resistant houses. For example, now I know we must use cross-beams to protect the walls.
“My family is proud of me. I have become more confident, so they want me to continue working. I am also able to provide for my family. I want to use my earnings to ensure my siblings continue to study.”