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 for details.


Amplifying happiness

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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!


Towards The 2030 Agenda with Community Forestry

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After the termination of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015 AD, the world is now heading 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 AD. The goals, termed as Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), address the three dimensions of sustainable development – social, economic and environmental.

According to the UN, Nepal has already prepared the preliminary national report on the implementation of the SDGs but the comprehensive plan on how to act upon these goals is yet to be prepared. That is to say, Nepal now has to put forward its plan on how the national priorities will be set, how institutional and financial arrangements will be made, how the indicators will be developed for the timely assessment of the achievement of the goals and so on. The goals are quite ambitious and there will be a lot of things to do for the achievement. This article discusses how Nepal’s community forestry sector can contribute to the achievement of these goals.

The program that began after the handling of a patch of forest to the local villagers of Thokarpa Village, Sindhupalchowk district for the management and utilisation in 1973 AD, by the then forest officer, has now become the world renowned “Community Forest” model. Community Forest (CF), as stated by the Forest Act 1993 AD, is that part of national forest which is handed over to the local people, forming a group known as Community Forest User Group (CFUG), for the management and utilization of the forest and its resources provided that they are able and willing to manage it. And now, there are about 20,000 CFs in the country with an equal number of CFUGs.

Poverty and hunger reduction had been the very first goal in the MDGs too. The first and the second goals of the SDGs also aim to eradicate extreme poverty in all its forms everywhere and end hunger and achieve food security by 2030 AD. The Community Forest Development Program Guideline 2071 BS, clearly states that 35 per cent of the total income of the CFUG should be invested on pro-poor targeted programs within the group. The annual income of Nepal’s CFs is over $10 million and the figure is yet increasing as the number of CFs being handed to the user groups is increasing. That way, community forestry sector contributes roughly $4 million annually (35 per cent of over $10 million) in the pro-poor targeted programs. Though there are accusations that the community forestry is under elite domination, it is not that poor are not getting any benefits. What is true is community forestry has the potential; the problem is of effective governance and law enforcement only.

The guideline also stipulates that among the two tiers of the organizational structure of CFUG, i.e. General Assembly (GA) and Executive Committee (EC), either chairperson or the secretary of the later one must be a woman. For maintaining a bank account of the group, there must be the joint signature one of which must be of woman. These provisions help in the empowerment of women and girls in decision making in public life and provide equal opportunities for leadership which are envisioned in the fifth goal of the SDGs. Similarly, there must be 50 per cent women participation in the EC with proportionate representation of Dalits, Jananatis, indigenous and marginalised people. This helps in reducing inequalities within the country, achieving inclusive and just societies and also in ensuring inclusive participation in public decision making. There are so many women-only run CFUGs that are reported to be even better than the generic ones. The provisions of annual public hearing and internal and public auditing help develop effective, accountable and transparent institutions ; CFUGs in this case.

The 25 per cent of the income from the CF, which is mandatory to be spent in forest management, development and protection activities helps minimise adverse effects of climate change, combat desertification, halt and reverse desertification and halt biodiversity loss.

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

But it is neither the provisions nor the goals themselves that make difference. We have to act upon them to make the desired differences. The UN itself states that the SDGs are not stand-alone goals as were the MDGs. So it is not that wise to assert this sector/activity helps achieve this goal and that sector/activity helps achieve that goal. Achievement (or underachievement) of one goal has the impact on the achievement of other goals too. For example, eradicating poverty, ensuring sustainable consumption and production helps in reducing hunger, managing forests sustainably and scientifically helps in mitigating negative impacts of climate change, ensuring inclusive and quality education helps in creating peaceful, just and inclusive societies and so on. Evidence also show that families with educated mothers are healthier. So, either directly or indirectly, the forestry sector, particularly the community forestry has great impacts on the achievement of the global goals. Hence more budget needs to be allocated to the forestry sector and more work needs to be done for augmented benefits and its greater contribution towards the sustainable agenda.

And thankfully, it is not the politicians who run the Community Forest User Groups but the local people themselves who work for their own benefits. Hence the guidelines are also less likely to be infringed.

Happiest Moments

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“Dai….! paach rupya dinu na  ……….. !”

That little girl came asking for five rupees. I was watching people throwing garbage on the Seti river gorge from the K I Singh bridge.

“What will you with the money?” I asked.

“I will buy noodles.” she answered.

“Is five rupees sufficient to buy noodles?” I asked again.

She didn’t speak.

……………………………. .

“What’s your name?”


“How old are you?”


“Where are you from?” / “Where is your home?”


“Where are your dad / mum?”




…??  …??  …??  …??  …??  …??  …??  …??  …??  …??

**********         ************            ************

She answered each question hesitantly. Probably, this  was the first time she was facing this much questions in her life.

I didn’t know if she was about to give up because of that much questions or was hopeful for the amount as I was the first (?) stranger who showed his concern about her family and life.

“Is it ok if I buy noodles for you?” She had just said that she would buy noodles with the money I gave.


“Which one do you prefer – NOODLES or BISCUITS  ?”


“What if I buy a biscuit for you?”

She didn’t speak.

“Don’t  you like biscuits?”

She shook her head to say “no”.

“Ok, come with me.  I will buy noodles for you.”

I went to a nearby shop and bought a packet of noodles, and handed it to her. She was neither happy nor sad. Her face was as usual. She was not grateful towards who has given her something to eat. It does not mean I was expecting gratitude/ thanks from her. I know she was too young and was just content with asking and asking; no matter if someone give her something or not. Why should she be grateful towards those who give her something as she cannot be angry towards / blame those who do not give her anything? To give or not to give is up to you. And it’s of no use if she became angry too, with them who do not give her anything.

She walked away opening the packet of noodles. I watched for a while. She went on walking, eating the noodles. A destinationless walk.  I know she had nowhere to go.

Probably, she was thinking of asking for MONEY with somebody else.

The moment didn’t become the happiest just because I gave a beggar girl a packet of noodles.

Had I given her FIVE RUPEES instead of the NOODLES PACKET, she would have been much happier probably……… !!!

That moment was happiest when I realized that I spent Twelve (12) rupees for her albeit she had asked for just Five (5) rupees. 🙂