Being in Nepal, my home country for a year, has changed me. Post-earthquake I made a radical decision against the reluctance of my parents to move to Nepal for a year. Nepal has always been a pit stop to reconnect with heritage, language, food and most of all a self-reflection. A moment of peace and quiet in contrast to the fast moving developed world. The stories that I have collected will be the focus and a self reflection of what can be done in Nepal.
On a monsoon evening, I met Ram while on my journey to Darkha, Dhading. A young boy aged five who had the warmest smile and eager eyes to learn the reasoning behind my visit. He introduced me to his friends. Snot hanging down, little fingers pressed together for a warm welcome and the blushing eyes from the girls is an unforgettable memory. We sat down on the floor near his desk, where he presented me with his school work. He smiled and ran off with his tongue hanging out.
I was left dazed but it made me consider Nepal through Ram’s eyes, a five year old. A boy who has been bought up in a nation that has seen physical and human devastation all his life. All through the Maoist insurgency to the recent earthquake that’s still fresh on his mind. He has not seen the world beyond his VDC of 5000 people, although Ganesh Himal seems to be his only moment of calm. NGO/ INGO and many donors come and go by him, offering him petty smile and chocolate. For him life always seems to be afloat, his family reflects the hardship that village household portrays, they encourage him to drop out of school so that there’s more hands to help out, the life he’s going to be living has already been painted for him. For many people living and breathing comfort in the developed world it’s hard to see the perspective at the grassroot.
There are arrays of stories in Nepal with similar patterns whether in the village or the capital. However, there has been a move towards community philanthropy in Nepal. Many of them being local people enriching and being resourceful of their area for a sustainable living. Earthquake affected areas, just after two months is filled with optimism and is striving towards continuity rather than stagnation. This is to say local people with the help of development corporations has really been the driving force of enriching the lives of people who have lost everything. Many places in Nepal take over two days to travel and progressively more by foot.
Prince Harry recently made a visit to the same school that was previously facilitated by GMIN (Grass Root movement in Nepal). The work done by individuals and group members in this non-profit organisation has improved the conditions of around 33 schools, which goes beyond just building. The scheme by GMIN and many other non-profit organisation, goes beyond just handing monetary donation, a continuous push towards evaluation and long term sustainability has been the fuel that has created an impact to the organisation.
Therefore to facilities and help these organisations there must be an active participant from the Nepalese members and communities across the nation. Rather than creating a concept of “I” or selective small group of “We”, there needs to be a focus on the wider picture of helping and creating new extensive knowledge sharing from individual and collective groups. In many villages during my travels, there was a great deal of community talks in big open grounds where elders will sit facing a group in a semi-circle. There is a sense of community and a move towards a “we” for a common goal. The elder will create an agenda where everyone contributes and where disputes are taken care of in that moment of time. This localised view and approach can enhance the ability of community practices and participation. Big organisations objective is quick responses but it’s up to the local people to help themselves by being more expressive.
Schooling in Nepal
Excessive politicisation of teachers and educational administrators is a primary cause of very poor performance of public schools. This compels many parents, even from poor and middle-income families, to pull out their children from supposedly free public schools and send them to relatively expensive private schools that are only marginally better in terms of the quality of educations. In Kathmandu Valley, for example, there are too many schools- both public and private- in the same congested neighbourhoods. Most of these schools do not have any playground or open space, no access to emergency ambulance or fire trucks. If the 2015 earthquake had taken place when schools were open, we know that many thousands of students would have been killed or wounded in a stampede, unable to run to any safe place. So, we must NOT rebuild all destroyed or damaged schools, but take this opportunity to build fewer, safer, more spacious, and better furnished schools.
Living in the developed world we have seen what the structure of education is like and what good educations consists of. Surath Giri wrote:
“Most of the students don’t know why they are studying a particular subject. A guy is studying BBA because his parents told him to or that it seemed like the only logical option after high school. A girl is studying B.Sc. because she took science in her high school and it seemed like the only perfect alternative. Naturally, when you don’t know why you are doing something it is very difficult to get excited about the task. Education institutions can change this scenario by reaching out to students and helping them figure out the answer to this question. Career counselling should be an integral part of education. Students should be assisted to figure out why they are studying a particular subject and what its logical end would be.”
Educating youth through NRN Youth Council
In Kathmandu, I was delighted to be invited to an event organised by Aarambha Foundation to Shree Bhuvaneshowri Nimna Madhemick Bidyalaya in Kavre. If there is a learning lesson one must not feel embarrassed to learn from someone who’s younger than you, you must not be embarrassed to learn from people who knows what the real ground root problem is. I was therefore put at an ease when their smiling faces showed warm hospitality and an eagerness to learn and implement any external knowledge that they could gain. The use of mentoring and understanding the knowledge a senior member possess creates and ample amount of opportunity for learning. Their perseverance is admirable and is continuously a big impact on their community.
The NRN Youth Council should be the intermediate for educating the youths about the importance of conservation, sustainability and a networking opportunity for where knowledge is shared amongst each other. The focus begins with targeting Nepali Societies in respected Universities and giving topics for which the NRN committee should be implementing the suggestions and finding ways for continuous improvement. This is one of many ways in which one can see and evaluate form a different demographic mind-set.
Tek is currently a penultimate student of BA (Hons) in International Business at Loughborough University. Originally from Dhadhing, Nepal, he grew up in his family home in Folkestone. He is also a Mongolian throat singer and an enthusiastic upcoming yogi.