logo of Prayatna
Participants are sorting vegetables (beans).

Empowering Life Skills Through Cooking Training

Published on: April 21, 2024

Introduction

Disability inclusion has gained momentum across sectors, emphasizing its critical importance in areas ranging from education to employment. However, one crucial aspect of inclusion that remains underemphasized is its integration into life skill development. Take, for instance, the realm of cooking skills. While concepts like leadership and personality development have garnered widespread recognition, essential daily skills like cooking have not received the same level of priority within the development sector. In this article, I will delve into the significance, impact, and necessity of cooking skill training for visually impaired women, drawing insights from the initiatives conducted by Prayatna Nepal.

Main Digest

While some may question whether cooking skill training perpetuates traditional gender roles, it's important to delve into why Prayatna Nepal found it essential to initiate life skill training, specifically through cooking, for visually impaired women. In an interview with Sarita Lamichhane, the founder-chairperson of Prayatna Nepal, she highlighted the story of Rekha (name changed), a visually impaired college student, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Rekha found herself struggling due to her inadequate cooking abilities. With lockdowns and restrictions in place, her usual reliance on outside food options became impractical. Despite the necessity to prepare meals at home, she had never been encouraged to learn cooking within her family, which prioritized her academic pursuits over domestic skills.

Continued below image.

A paricipant learning to sort green leafy veggies before washing.
A paricipant learning to sort green leafy veggies before washing.

Continued...

Stories like this motivated Prayatna Nepal to launch life skill training through cooking for women with visual impairments. Given Prayatna Nepal's direct engagement with visually impaired women, the organization is acutely aware of the challenges these individuals encounter in their daily lives. For instance, while accommodations such as hostels are available for a certain period, transitioning to new settings for educational or professional pursuits poses difficulties, especially when families are reluctant to provide essential training like cooking. This lack of preparation hampers their ability to adapt and adjust in new environments.

Continued below image.

Peer learning to cut onions.
Peer learning to cut onions.

Continued...

In response to these challenges, Prayatna Nepal has been conducting this training program for four years now, and its impact has been profound for many participants. Lamichhane notes that the training has empowered participants to navigate various settings with confidence and independence, significantly enhancing their quality of life.

Currently, Prayatna Nepal is conducting the same training program from April 17th to April 23rd, 2024. Throughout this session, I had the privilege to engage with numerous participants, seeking to grasp their motivations for joining the training and exploring the collective impact. The overarching sentiment echoed through our interactions was that this experience significantly bolstered their self-confidence and sense of worth.

One of the participants shared a moment from her life:

"I still remember a time when one of my family members fell sick, and I was the only one at home. Not having been taught basic cooking skills, I felt utterly helpless. I wanted to support my family during their illness by at least preparing a basic meal, but as a visually impaired person, I felt limited. My only motivation for joining this training is to learn these fundamental skills, gain confidence, and realize that disability should not limit what I can do. I want to empower myself despite my visual impairment, to cook and contribute. All I want is the motivation for independence and dignified daily living."

Another participant shared a similarly touching story:

"Our family doesn't allow us to cook because they fear our incapability due to visual impairment. They worry we might hurt ourselves while cutting or burn our hands, and cannot light the gas. Similar restrictions exist in my family; when my parents have to go somewhere, they prepare meals for me in advance. However, when I eat those meals later, they don't taste fresh, but I have no choice. If I could cook, I wouldn't have to rely on my parents to hastily prepare my meals, and I could cook what I desire. It might sound simple, but self-sufficiency is crucial. My motivation for participating in this training is to be able to cook basic food and not be dependent on anyone."

Another participant highlighted the importance of both cooking and serving skills:

"In addition to cooking, we were taught how to serve the food we cooked because both skills are important. Before this training, I didn't even know how to use a pressure cooker. One day, while I was home alone and craving some dal, I tried to open the pressure cooker to get it but failed because I didn't know how. In desperation, I ended up using my teeth to open it. Now, as I have gained skill from this training, which has given me newfound confidence."

Throughout my observation during the training, I came to realize that it encompassed much more than just teaching specific cooking skills. It extended to imparting life skills to the participants, such as teaching them to iron their clothes, cut fruits and vegetables, and perform basic chores like sweeping and cleaning.

Continued below image.

Participant listening to instructions while cooking.
Participant listening to instructions while cooking.

Continued...

Additionally, I had the opportunity to interact with another participant who was undergoing ironing training. Curious, I asked her why ironing was important for visually impaired individuals. What she shared with me was eye-opening. She expressed that people with disabilities, especially women, often face challenges in being considered presentable. Due to a lack of skills imparted within families to maintain their attire, they often feel insecure, particularly when traveling. However, learning ironing had significantly boosted her confidence in her clothing choices. It wasn't about impressing others but rather about feeling empowered to present oneself well through personal effort. With confidence, she exclaims, "I aspire to translate this experience into a professional capacity."

Continued below image.

A participant showing off ironed kurtha after learning to iron.
A participant showing off ironed kurtha after learning to iron.

Continued...

After firsthand witnessing the impact of this training and conversing with numerous participants, I've come to realize the paramount importance of addressing issues that truly matter, especially in alignment with Goal 5 of the Sustainable Development Goals, which advocates for gender equality. Mere discourse on rights and inclusion doesn't guarantee their fruition; actualizing real inclusion requires prioritizing programs like this one, which are often overlooked yet profoundly influential in daily life.

Similarly, Goal 17 underscores the significance of partnership and collaboration. While donor agencies rightly allocate budgets for programs such as leadership and personality enhancement, we must also acknowledge the importance of broader life skills, such as cooking. Inclusion extends beyond issues already in the mainstream; it necessitates considering marginalized issues within development frameworks and allocating visibility and funding to initiatives addressing them. This approach aligns with the core principles of sustainable development, ensuring that no one is left behind, and upholds the fundamental tenets of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which mandates non-discrimination.

From the smallest interventions with the power to effect change, to initiatives that enhance freedom and dignity for all, every effort contributes to the collective pursuit of a more equitable and inclusive world. So, as we advocate for disability inclusion, let us broaden our perspective, shatter stereotypes, and embrace the richness of diversity in all its forms. Let us recognize that every skill learned, every barrier overcome, is not just a step towards inclusion-it's a triumph of the human spirit. So, the next time you savor a meal prepared with love and skill, remember the countless individuals, like the courageous women of Prayatna Nepal, who are reclaiming their place at the table, one recipe at a time.

-RECENT POSTS

Meeting Minute writing and leadership training for sister of Prayatna Nepal in Gandaki Province

Prayatna Nepal is a nonprofit, non-religious and non-political women led organization established for the empowerment and rights promotion of women and girls with visual impairment.

Advocacy meetings with health insitutions (Charak institute of health science and Gandaki Medical College, Pokhara, Nepal)

Prayatna Nepal is the self-help organization, which is working continuously to empower the living condition of women and girls with visual impairment.

Empowering Life Skills Through Cooking Training

Introduction Disability inclusion has gained momentum across sectors, emphasizing its critical importance in areas ranging from education to employment.
logo of Prayatna
Prayatna Nepal is an organization established to works for visually impaired women and girls. We empower visually impaired women and girls to take their lives in their own hand.
Copyright © 2024 Prayatna Nepal. Website by: Diverse Patterns
magnifiercrossmenuchevron-down Skip to content