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FEATURE STORY March 12, 2021

Making a Stand


Sabrina Dangol/World Bank Nepal

Uma Bista, Businesswoman

Uma Bista, 49, came to Kathmandu 30 years ago from Dolakha with her husband and three small children in search of a better life. She found jobs in residential construction sites across Kathmandu as a helper while her husband worked as a mason to make ends meet. Her family lives in a cramped rented flat near Patan.

When the lockdown happened in March 2020, she and her husband were out of work instantly. All construction work was closed and they found themselves completely helpless. Without savings and unable to afford stockpiling of basic food products, Uma and her family faced one of their harshest times. The government’s food relief package for people with minimum wages came as a ray of hope. However, Uma had to wait for days to receive relief. 

Uma decided to make a fresh start, and opened a small business of selling vegetables near her locality. She would wake up early, around 4am to buy vegetables from the nearby wholesaler and sell vegetables till the allotted time of 8am and return again in the evening during the lockdown. Though her earnings were small, it helped her to make ends meet. After the lockdown ended, her husband started work as a mason again. Uma continues to sell vegetables and flowers in Patan and says business is good. She plans to continue with it as it is less taxing than construction work, especially at her age, she says.

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This story is one of 23 stories spotlighting women from Nepal who are breaking the mold through their stories of resilience, hope, and grit amid the COVID19 pandemic. Read all the stories here.