45-year-old Rajani Rai Chitrakar started to work since she was 7 years old.
Native from the rural part of Dhankuta, Nepal she is the eldest child of her parents. She has 6 younger siblings: 3 sisters and 3 brothers. Rajani’s mother suffered from tuberculosis pre-marriage. And apparently, post-marriage due to heavy physical work and giving birth to 7 children, she was hospitalized most of the time. Hence, the responsibility of family and siblings was on Rajani.
Rajani is now married and a proud mother of a daughter and a son. Her daughter is got a scholarship to do a master’s in engineering and her son is studying HM.
Talking about Chitrakar’s childhood days, she was a very inquisitive, helpful, and restless kid.
She loved to learn and could not keep calm. She learned knitting and weaving at a very tender age of 7 from her uncle.
And after a couple of years, she made various items like doko, tokari and sold them in the local market (haat bazaar) for Rs. 2-3 during that time. She shared with us that at the end of the day of haat bazaar, she would have a total of around Rs. 200. With that money, she would buy oil, salt, and necessary groceries while returning home.
She moved to Kathmandu for better opportunities. Initially, she did what she knew i.e., weaving, knitting made of khosta, choya, paral, etc., and sold it in the heart of Kathmandu market: Asan, Indrachowk. Gradually, she sold handicrafts in New road.
In this process, she fell in love, who is now her husband. Due to intercaste, her husband’s family hated her. Her mother-in-law used to curse her and sister in law would physically abuse her in public as well because they thought that Rajani was a housebreaker who snatched her son from them.
Rajani was not able to make enough money weaving and with influences and circumstances, she decided to switch her business. Hence, she did several odd jobs. She opened a sweet shop where she had national Nepali snacks including Jerry-swari, lalmohan, etc. But here, she needed employees to make Rotis/swari and they would charge 1500-2000 per day so it became difficult for her to maintain. Hence she could not run this business after two years.
After the sweet shop, she started Newari Khaja Ghar, which is also a food business where she served lunch, especially Newari cuisines. Rajani had to stop this as well because she was not making a profit and it was becoming difficult to look after her family.
Ultimately, after struggling in different areas, Rajani had to do what she was good at. She again started weaving and knitting but this time the difference was she had many contacts comparing when she had initially started. She then registered her company, ‘Rajani Hastakala.’ With her contacts, she took part in events organized by various NGOs and INGOs. She also got an offer to train in Kathmandu and rural areas.
At the start, she was trained how to make bamboo racks, tables, chairs. She has traveled to 40-45 districts in Nepal for her training practice. Her students are not just young people but people above 60 as well.
Later, she trained more items including naglo, chakati, wooden statues, etc.
She has also traveled to three countries including India, China, Hong Kong to showcase her products.
Likewise, to date, she has trained over 16000 people!!
Rajani speaks about Saugat Griha:
Saugat Griha was inaugurated on 1st Bhadra 2078 for the advancement and promotion of local entrepreneurs in Kirtipur. Each ward of Kirtipur is given a stall for free for the first three months.
Residing in Tyanglaphat, Kirtipur-1, Rajani is one of the entrepreneurs who has a stall in Saugat Griha. She revealed that she is very thankful to the Honorable Mayor, Mr. Ramesh Maharjan, and his entire team for supporting local businesses and giving them such a huge opportunity.
As of now, due to the initial phase, the customers are quite rare. Customers come, ask about the products, show interest but only a few buy.
Rajani hopes that once the pandemic is over, the flow of national as well as international tourists will increase. She believes that this will help their business to grow overall.