From the Refugee Camp

Also available in this link: http://www.voicesofyouth.org/en/posts/from-the-refugee-camp

 

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Photo – Hindustan Times

 

I am Abdul Ramiz. I am ten years old. I am a Rohingya, they say. So I know I am a Rohingya but I do not know what that actually means. People around say we are in Bangladesh. Maybe, that is the name of the place we are living now. There are so many people here but no houses to live in.

I am very tired and hungry. We walked so long before arriving here. My parents carried me on their back because I could not walk. And there was nothing to eat on the way for two days.

I was so terrified on the boat because that was my first ride. One of the boats next to us overturned in the middle of the sea. Some of the men swam and came to our boat. I do not know where other small friends like me on the boat went. Maybe, they died. Thank god, our boat did not overturn.

Here is my new friend whose name I do not know. He is alone. He came following us after we got down from the boat. My mother asked him about his parents. He said they were in the boat that overturned and his father was sick. He managed to swim and caught our boat. He does not know where they are now. My mother asked him to come along. He is with us now but he neither speaks much nor eats anything. He just sits and stares towards the way we came from.

We do not know what to do next. My father goes somewhere else and brings something to eat. My mother gives us some loafs of bread and some biscuits that hardly satiate me. I never see her eating. Even if she does, she eats less than I can eat. I think she reserves the food for us. And this new friend eats even lesser, that too very rarely.

Back in our village, I would play with so many friends especially in the evenings. But here, nobody wants to play. Neither do I. I usually see a fear on my friends’ face and tiredness and worries on the grown-ups’. I do not know what happened to our cows and hens. We had set them all free before taking off. Minutes after we took off, we had heard the bombs blasting and people screaming. I do not know who blasted the bombs and why. That was the most beautiful place on the earth for me but they destroyed it all. I asked about it to my parents later but they did not say anything. I do not know when we are going back home.

Sometimes, some good people arrive here. They give us food and water bottles. But we do not have a home to sleep in. We sleep in tents but my father sleeps on the ground under the open sky mostly. My mother cuddles me if I feel cold at night. My new friend also sleeps with us.

I do not know who I should ask for. My parents do not answer my questions.

Please tell me when will we be able to go back to our own home? I am missing my friends and school. Do we have to board a boat again to reach our home? And will my new friend be able to find his parents?

This is fictionalized account inspired by several stories reported in the news. Visit http://www.voicesofyouth.org/en/posts/from-the-refugee-camp for details.

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Forests Fuelling Progress

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Published in The Kathmandu Post – this link

The KTM Post Article

Sep 12, 2017

With the end of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015, the world has now embarked on another path towards the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. Prepared by the United Nations (UN), the agenda constitutes 17 goals with 169 targets envisioning a more peaceful, just, sustainable and inclusive world by 2030. These goals have been dubbed the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and address three dimensions of sustainable development—social, economic and environmental. Achieving these goals requires ambition and hard work. Nepal’s community forestry sector can contribute significantly to the achievement of these goals as well.

What began with the handing over of a patch of forest to be utilised and managed by the local villagers of Thokarpa Village in the Sindhupalchowk district in 1973 has now become a world renowned community forestry model. Community Forests (CF), as stated by the Forest Act 1993, are that part of a national forest which is handed over to the local people, forming a group known as Community Forest User Group (CFUG), for the management and utilisation of the forest and its resources provided that they are able and willing to manage it. Now, there are 19,361 CFs in the country with an equal number of CFUGs.

Policy linkage

Poverty and hunger reduction were targets for the very first goal in the MDGs. The first and second goals of the SDGs also aim to eradicate extreme poverty in all its forms and end hunger and achieve food security by 2030. The Community Forest Development Program Guideline 2014-15 clearly states that 35 percent of the total income of the CFUG should be invested in pro-poor targeted programs within the group. The annual income of Nepal’s CFs is over $10 million and the figure continues to increase as the number of CFs being handed to the user groups is also increasing. The community forestry sector contributes roughly $4 million annually (35 per cent of $10 million) to the pro-poor targeted programs. Though there are accusations that community forestry is under elite domination, the poor are also benefiting considerably. Community forestry has the potential to bring about a number of positive developments, however, this process is impeded by a lack of effective governance and law enforcement.

The Community Forest Development Program Guideline also stipulates that among the two tiers of the organisational structure of CFUG, i.e. General Assembly (GA) and Executive Committee (EC), either the chairperson or the secretary must be a woman. In order for the group to establish and maintain a bank account, there must be a joint signature, of which one signature must be a woman’s. These provisions help empower women and girls, involve them in the decision-making process in public life, and provide equal opportunities for leadership which are envisioned in the fifth goal of the SDGs. Similarly, there must be 50 percent women participation in the EC with proportionate representation of Dalits, Janajatis, and indigenous and marginalised people. This helps to reduce inequalities within the country by achieving inclusive and just societies, and it also ensures inclusive participation in public decision making. There are so many CFUGs that are run solely by women and are reported to perform better than mixed gender CFUGs. The provisions of annual public hearing and internal and public auditing help develop effective, accountable and transparent institutions. This process has worked in the CFUGs case as well. It is deemed mandatory for 25 percent of the income from the CF to be spent on forest management, development and protection activities. This aims to minimise adverse effects of climate change, combat desertification, halt and reverse desertification, and halt biodiversity loss.

Positive impacts

The CFUGs have been involved in numerous other activities like providing scholarships for deserving students from their groups, constructing gobar-gas (biogas made from cow dung) plants, constructing and/or maintaining physical infrastructures like roads, schools, hospital buildings and toilets to name a few. These activities all help to accomplish targets in one way or the other. The scholarships help in ensuring quality education, constructing toilets and hospitals help to ensure sanitation and healthy lives, constructing gobar-gas plants ensures access to affordable and sustainable energy, and so on.

But it is neither the provisions nor the goals themselves that make a difference. We have to act upon them to bring about the desired differences. The UN itself states that the SDGs are not stand-alone goals, and neither were the MDGs. So it cannot be explicitly stated that a particular sector/activity helps achieve one specific goal. Achievement (or underachievement) of one goal has considerable impacts on the achievement of other goals too. For example, eradicating poverty and ensuring sustainable consumption and production helps to reduce hunger, managing forests sustainably and scientifically helps to mitigate the negative impacts of climate change, ensuring inclusive and quality education helps to create peaceful, just and inclusive societies and so on. Evidence also shows that families with educated mothers are more stable. So, either directly or indirectly, the forestry sector, and community forestry in particular greatly impacts the achievement of global goals. Budget allocation for the forestry sector has to increase and more work should be done to achieve greater and more sustainable benefits.

Another positive point of CFGUs is that they are not run by politicians, but by local people who work for their own personal advancement. This increases the likelihood that guidelines will be adhered to.

Today’s learning !!

I learned a new thing today. I’m writing this post via “Windows Live Writer”, not by logging in to my wordpress account as I usually used to do. And I learned it accidentally. I was just looking the windows’ built in apps/tools and saw “Windows Live Writer” among many others. Thinking it as a publishing tool, like blogs, I just got intrigued and clicked it. And that was that. Smile Am now posting it via the same tool.

At first it asks to configure your blog account to which you want to publish your posts. And after the blog address is configured, it just opens as a new Word document in the window (I don’t know about mobile devices). Then you can write in the similar way you do in a new Word document. Categories, tags, post date, author (if multi-authored), slug, excerpt etc. can be used too.

It’s not sooooo different than the generic style of publishing a post by logging in to your personal blog. But, it’s a new learning for me.

But, am not that good at describing things. You need to give a try yourself to know how it works.

Let’s see if plugins are required to display tables or not. I’ve inserted a table below here in Live Writer.

1 One
2 Two
3 Three
4 Four
5 Five

 

 

Better than The Kite Runner

Salaam Alaykum!

A lot of thoughts got implanted in my head after reading The Kite Runner. I don’t know when was the first time I heard about the book and how I heard about it. The book was written in 2003 A.D. when I was about just 10 years old. It had been a long time I wanted to read it but hadn’t found it in my college library [ I don’t buy books as long as I can find it in a library or with a friend 🙂 ]

There was a book exhibition in the exhibition ground, Bhrikutimandap in Kathmandu. I had gone to spend my free time around there as I was free after completing my final year at the college. I saw the book again. The desire to read it surged again. I flipped through the book, looked the price, and began reading the author’s foreword, praises for the book and the highlights/description of the book which I usually do before reading a new book. When I came to know that the novel is about childhood and friendship, I could not stop myself to begin reading the first chapter. I read some of the pages standing in front of the stall. Then I decided to BUY THE FIRST NOVEL 🙂 

I was so attracted by the first novel [The Kite Runner] that I could not stop myself from reading the author’s second work; A Thousand Splendid Suns. Though this novel has portrayed the male characters [Baba as well as Rasheed] as evils, I loved the second novel [ A Thousand Splendid Suns] more than the The Kite Runner. But yes, one book cannot be compared with another; each has a different purpose/theme. It’d be better to say I loved the story of the second novel than that of the first one. 

A Thousand Splendid Suns is a melange of conspiracies, love, war and at last patriotism. It shows how war has shattered Afghanistan and how people become bound to the circumstances they don’t even want to imagine. The following lines from the novel describe how it is the melange of conspiracies, love, war and patriotism. 

#conspiracies: 

• Her (Mariam’s) gaze skimmed over all of these things before they found a face, across the garden, in an upstairs window. The face was there for only an instant, a flash, but long enough. Long enough for Mariam to see the eyes widen, the mouth open. Then it snapped away from the view. A hand appeared & frantically pulled at a cord. The curtain fell shut.
• “Yes. But I’ve seen nine-year-old girls given to men twenty years older than your suitor, Mariam. We all have. What are you, fifteen? That’s a good, solid marrying age.” … It didn’t escape Mariam that no mention was made of her half sisters Saideh or Naheed, both her own age, both students in the Mehri School in Herat, both with plans to enroll in Kabul University. Fifteen evidently, was not a good, solid marrying age for them.

#war:

• “They have food here (orphanage)”, Laila (mother) said shakily. She was glad for the burqa, glad that Aziza(daughter) couldn’t see how she was falling apart inside it.

#love

• In the middle of the night when Laila woke up thirsty, she found their(Laila & her second husband, Tariq) hands still clamped together, in the white knuckle, anxious way of children clutching balloon strings.
• “Me?”, he (Tariq) says, “I will follow you to the end of the world, Laila.”

#patriotism

• A year ago, she (Laila) would have gladly given an arm to get out of Kabul. But in the last few months, she has found herself missing the city of her childhood. She misses the bustle of Shor Bazaar, the Gardens of Babur, the call of the water carriers lugging their goatskin bags.

If you read The Kite Runner and liked it, I think you will like A Thousand Splendid Suns more.

Happy reading !! 

मुक्तक

फूटपाथका जीवनहरु पढ्नमै अभ्यस्त छ 

सधैँ यसैगरी चल्दैन भन्नेमा पनि बिस्वस्त छ 

प्राथमिकताहरुको एउटा निर्वाचन गर्न नसकेर 

आफैँ चाहिँ आजकल पूरै अस्तव्यस्त छ ।।  #माई_डियर_जिन्दगी 🙂

……………………………………………………………………………………………………

Is accustomed to reading the footpath lives

Is sure, just this way, it never survives !

Being unable to conduct an election of priorities

Itself’s a mess now! Still, there’s something for which it strives !!  #My_dear_jindagi 🙂

Collage

Shall I Breathe?

Shall I breathe!

Even masks are terrified with pollution in #Kathmandu #Dustmandu

What do you think is the easiest task? Breathing? That is what I find the most difficult one in Kathmandu. Locality matters!

Air pollution is a major environmental and ultimately a health problem in developed as well as developing cities. Kathmandu is not an exception. Instead, Kathmandu has gotten some new names because of dust and air pollution. Dustmandu and Maskmandu are the commonest ones. A recent analysis of air pollution in Kathmandu for the period of one month, Magh, showed that, the 24-hour daily averages of the PM2.5 (Particulate Matter of less than 2.5 micrometre diameter) concentration in Kathmandu atmosphere were beyond the government standard of 40 micrograms per cubic metre, forget about the World Health Organization (WHO) standard of 25 micrograms per cubic metre.

At first, what is very difficult for me to understand is how the government standard becomes 60 per cent higher than the WHO standard. Is it because Gorkhalis are brave enough to tolerate higher levels of pollution than the WHO standard? If so, I am not a Gorkhali. Or I am an exceptional one!

The current analyses on air pollution are being done only on the PM2.5 concentration basis. What about other pollutants such as ground-level ozone, Nitrogen dioxide (NO2), Sulfur dioxide (SO2) and Carbon monoxide (CO)? Are these pollutants within the recommended standard? What would be the quality of air if the impact of these pollutants is also included in determining the air quality of Kathmandu Valley? A recent WHO report states that, of the 1.7 million child deaths every year, five hundred seventy thousand children under five year of age die from respiratory infections attributable to indoor and outdoor air pollution. Though exact figure of such death is not available for Kathmandu, we can easily assume that such death is high here as Kathmandu has been ranked as the seventh worst polluted cities in the world in terms of air quality recently. How can we expect a high number of children to survive who get born in the seventh worst polluted city in the world and inhale the poisonous air since their first breathe?

Suggestions you will get to avoid the pollution in Kathmandu are so ridiculous – avoid all sports activities, do physical activities only after noon, don’t go for a morning or evening walk as air pollution is higher in the morning and in the evening! Are these pragmatic suggestions? We have to wait till noon for any physical activities? Sounds like there will be suggestions like “Don’t breathe wherever and whenever you like!” in the near future. What I have understood is that the static blanket of polluted air near the earth’s surface in the morning gets dispersed as a result of human and vehicular movements. To some extent, the solar radiation helps. But if nobody comes out of their house till noon, does the air quality automatically improve as such? I don’t think so. And is it ‘ethical’ to prevent children from going outside and playing? Can we expect them to be healthy that way? I am quite confused if these suggestions are intended to prepare healthy or ailing citizens. Is it practicable to put a mask on a two-year child while carrying him out of the house? According to news reports, the ordinary, cheap cloth masks that people generally put on in Kathmandu are also ineffective against the pollutant particles. According to researches, the oldest and the youngest are the most affected people due to air pollution. We can somehow accuse the oldest generation for not acting to curb pollution earlier. But what crime has a newborn done to inhale poisonous air since his/her first breath? The pollution levels are recorded and published; not forecasted so that we can avoid the peak hours of pollution every day.

The only panacea is – cleaning the atmosphere. The recent move to ban the twenty-year-old vehicles is a good one. According to a BBC report, the brick kilns of the valley destroyed by the 2015 earthquake are being rebuilt using new technology that emits less polluting soot and smoke. For widening the road, the government cut so many green trees in many parts of the ring road some years ago, but when it comes to curbing pollution it does not plant trees. Trees are reported to have a significant impact in reducing the atmospheric pollution. What is preventing the government for large roadside plantations? Are we only focusing on development with no concerns about the environment? Can such development be sustainable? What is the use of a city with roads of multiple lanes and skyscrapers where you have to fear for ‘breathing’? 

Twitter: @AacharyaAaditya

Amplifying happiness

Also in this link: http://www.voicesofyouth.org/en/posts/amplifying-happiness

Happiness

How would you feel if you found five bucks while walking on a roadside? Happy? Extremely happy? Maybe that depends on the amount of money you find.

Same happened to me some weeks ago. I found five rupees (Nepali currency) while walking on a roadside. I felt very happy. Five rupees is not that great amount of money, but I had found it without any effort. The bank note was right in front of me and I just had to bend down to pick it up. That was all.

Without thinking anything, I picked up the note. Holding it in my hand I continued my regular move.

After walking for a few minutes, I just remembered some beggars asking for money while I was coming from my room in the morning. I had to pass across a hospital daily and there used to be so many ailing people in the road in front of the hospital asking for money or food or something else.

To be honest, I hadn’t given them (those in front of the hospital) anything till that day. I don’t know what prompted me but I thought of giving the five rupees I found just before, to one of them while returning back to the room.

In the evening, on my way back to the room, I did as planned. There was a guy with no legs. I didn’t throw the note into the begging bowl. Instead, I put it in his hand and asked what had happened to his legs. He told me that he was born like that. He was so grateful for that small amount of money – I cannot describe it here by writing.

Now I know how to amplify happiness. If I find hundred rupees, I will be extremely happy. But if I distribute it to ten destitute people, ten rupees each, ten more people will be happy and I can feel the happiness eleven times – once because of finding the money and ten times because of sharing it. What I think I discovered is, one sorrow (of the person who lost the money) can be changed into lots of happiness. The one thing we have to learn is to find happiness in sharing and seeing other people happy.

No, I am not bragging but just wanted to share how my little happiness, on finding a small bank note, got amplified.

My dear friends, what will you do if you find a hundred bucks? I know you will be happy. And hope you will amplify it too!