Motor’s Doctor of Far-western Hill

Ranjit Mahar at his workshop

Baitadi, 27 December 2018- If you ask any driver, helper and vehicle owners the contact number for services for their vehicles in Baitadi district, they will easily spell the mobile number of Ranjit workshop without any hesitation. Owned by Ranjit Mahar, 45, a person with disability, resident of Basulinga Gwani, Sundarpur of Surnaya Rural Municipality ward 2 Baitadi District, Ranjit Workshop is the only workshop in the area to provide services to all kind of vehicles for maintenance round the clock.

As he handles maintenance work for the vehicle witnessing technical snags, Mahar has established himself as a motor (vehicle) doctor of far western road from Darchula to Baitadi and other roadsides. At the hilly road of remote parts of far-western region, the incidents of mechanical trouble is regular and Ranjit is the only mechanic with wide experience and knowledge about technical snags.

As the only mechanic expert in between Baitadi, Darchula and Dadelhura districts, drivers and helpers have no options other than to call Ranjit to rescue them from trouble. A son of Haliya, Ranjit, left for India at a young age to earn money to support the family and to repay the loan that his father borrowed from a landlord. He travelled to India extensively as a helper, driver and mechanic.

However, he lost his right leg in a tractor accident in Mahendranagar 10 years ago. After the accident, Ranjit decided to return to his village with his wife, a native of Kolkata, India. 

“Five years ago I decided to continue the work I was familiar with, I opened a small workshop at the roadside. Having very little money, I invested nominal money to establish a workshop. Although my friends and relatives suggested me to take loan from money lender, I declined to take penny knowing how they could trap me like they trapped my father for his entire life as a Haliya for the sake of few thousand rupees,” said Ranjit.

With the project implemented by Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Nepal in partnership with Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and local implementing partners Rastriya Mukta Haliya Samaj Federation Nepal and Federation of Community Based Organizations (CBOF), Ranjit finally secured the money to upgrade his workshop. He received Rs 40,000 loan from Nayapaila Mukta Haliya Cooperatives Ltd.

“Had not the cooperative lent me money for the interest rate of 15 percent per year, it was impossible for me to expand my workshop. With Rs 40,000 loan, I bought an air-compressor and other equipments. LWF also provided some other equipment’s to me,” said mechanic Mahar, who has already paid back the loan with interest that he received from the cooperative.

Although Mahar used to make NPR. 10,000 to 15,000 a month earlier, the additional equipment’s have nearly doubled his monthly income. Mahar charges NPR. 2,000-3,000 for engine maintenance and NPR. 1,500 for other works. The charge depends on the part and portion of the engine.

Almost every day the compressor can alone generate up to NPR. 300. “I am very thankful to LWF-Nepal and its partner organizations supporting our cooperatives providing seed money. Had not the cooperative provided me with loan, it was impossible for me to expand my workshop. Who will give loan to a person of disability?” said Mahar.

With a good monthly income, Mahar is currently sending his three children to a local boarding school. “If I invest on them, they will never have to go for any form slavery to pay loan later like me,” said Mahar, who also generously donated a piece of land to construct a permanent building to the cooperative.

“We need to sustain the cooperative and expand its activities so that it can offer more money to the lenders. The cooperative saved us from going to any modern form of slavery,” said Mahar, who saw his father plowing the land for decades having just a meal of corn and waste product.

“Of course, I have lost my leg and I cannot move fast now. I don’t want to repeat the story of my family and my life to others,” said Mahar hoping that LWF-Nepal will continue to provide support for few more years to sustain their livelihood and income generation. 

With the expansion of his workshop, there is a growing pressure at his work. Mahar recently hired another staff for his workshop. “As I find it difficult to travel from one place to other, I have recruited a person from my own community as an assistant” he proudly shared.

Dr Prabin Manandhar, Country Director, LWF Nepal, “LWF Nepal supports people in need to sustain their livelihood. We work for many including person with disability and support them to enhance their skills. Our main motive is to create a healthy environment and support them to live a dignified life”.

Text and Photo by: LWF Nepal