DREAMS Hall of Fame 2013 : Part lI -Noble and Humble

December 26, 2013 , by Sewa Bhattarai, Leave your thoughts
DREAMS Hall of Fame 2013 : Part lI -Noble and Humble » My Dreams Mag

While our entertainers were all over the media, away from the spotlight there was another group of people that was quietly working to positively contribute to society. DREAMS brings you those social workers, scientists, and young Turks who are just as deserving, if not more, of adulation from Nepalis. 


Social Work

Female Power

In 1996, when a group of women were rescued from Indian brothels, they suddenly found they had no home to return to. They were rescued from one hell, and fell into another, where they were discriminated as sex workers. They formed a group to support themselves and others like them. Little did they know that their Shakti Samuha was the first organization in the world established by survivors of trafficking.

In sixteen years, Shakti Samuha has come to embody the female power that its name symbolizes. The centre now provides rehabilitation and teaches skills to former sex workers. Apart from changing these women’s lives, they have also changed our perspective. When they started out, the media labelled them “poor victims” but now, their voices are taken seriously everywhere. They have taught us to respect every individual, no matter where they come from. And they had shown us that life has second chances, if you are willing to work for it. Kudos to the ladies, even before winning the Magsaysay, they had done Nepal proud. They are one of the faces of New Nepal, with a consciousness progressing by leaps and bounds. And with Magsaysay, they have put it on the map!



London Walks for Nepal

What if you could improve someone’s life by just walking? Sounds like a preposterous idea, but that is exactly what Walk for Nepal does. An idea that began in Boston in 2011, this year it ended in London, raising more than £2500. The idea is to register for the walk with a minimum fee, which is then sent to the charity of your choice. London Walks for Nepal attracted more than 130 people to enjoy crisp spring air for five miles. The idea has the potential to (make us) run for long, and contribute to social development. It has also been noted for its transparency: the funding process is illustrated simply for all contributors to understand, and is accounted for. Way to go, walkathons!


Teach a man to fish

Despite living abroad, many youngsters today choose to help their country in one way or another. Kanchan Amatya is a shining example. Or should we say swimming, because her work relates to fish farming! Kanchan was recently nominated to Clinton Global Initiative University (CGIU) Commitments Challenge 2013, which is ex-American President Bill Clinton’s way of encouraging young leaders across colleges. Kanchan’s idea of encouraging fish farming through existing ponds and valleys in Dhading caught the initiative’s eye. While this speaks volumes not only about the talented and innovative person that Kanchan is, it represents the fact that like a tortoise carries its shell, Nepalis carry the love for their homeland wherever they go.


Away with stigma

With the government spending less than one percent of its budget on mental illness, the efforts of individuals and organizations n this field becomes crucial. Stigma regarding mental illness, as a sub-field of mental illness, receives even less attention. This is why the work of Dr. Matrika Devkota, who has been working tirelessly for 25 years in the field of mental illness, is so commendable. His organization Koshishholds awarenessprograms, started Nepal’s first radio program about mental illness, and helps rehabilitate mental illness patients with skills and trainings. Koshish was chosen from among 40 nominations worldwide for the Dr. Guislain “Breaking the Chains of Stigma” Award. The Award, supported by Museum Dr. Guislain and Janssen Research & Development in Belgium, is named after Dr. Guslain, a renowned advocate of medical treatment of mental illness. We wish Dr. Devkota luck in utilizing the $50,000 for a good cause.


Image source: fracarita-international


Clear sight

Dr. Sanduk Ruit, one time winner of the Magsaysay award, does us proud again. The Magsaysay was for his pioneering of low-cost cataract lenses, which enabled the people who could not afford the expensive lenses prevalent then to avail of eye care. Dr. Ruit was instrumental in cutting down the cost of the lense from almost $7,000 to $3.5, a drastic reduction that made a huge difference to poor people. The organization that Dr. Ruit founded, Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology, is recognized worldwide as a pioneer in technical innovation and social outreach, with military surgeons from the US training under Dr. Ruit.

This year the institute of Ophthalmology was awarded the Champalimaud award for its work, which is the largest sum of money ($ 1.3 million) awarded in the field of vision. This makes Dr. Ruit the recipient of two Nobel prizes, so to speak, because the Champalimaud award is called the Nobel prize in vision, while the Magsaysay, as we all know, is called the Nobel prize of Asia. Nepal Netra Jyoti Sangh, the Eastern Regional Eye Care Programme and Lumbini Eye Institute shared the prize with Tilganga institute of ophthalmology.


Dr. Gyanendra Malla

After the entry into T20, cricketer Gyanendra Malla became a household name, but that should not overshadow Dr. Gyanendra Malla, who deserves just as much to be on the front page of newspapers. Dr. Malla was recently awarded in Australia for the improvement in emergency services at BP Koirala Institute of Health Science. Now, the facility, which has world class technology for attending to emergency patients, will give priority to patients based on the gravity of the injury rather than the time they were checked in. Dr. Malla believes his education in Australia was instrumental in improving the services at BPKHS. Wise words that will hopefully inspire other students in foreign universities to contribute to Nepal. Cricketer Gyanendra Malla is lucky to share a name with such a noble personality.

gyanendra malla ekantipur

Image source: ekantipur


Youth in Politics

For long we have cribbed about how our politics is in the vice-like grip of dictatorial leaders. This political season, youngsters infused some young blood in the political scenario. Gagan Thapa, perhaps the most popular youth leader of our times, has proved his popularity once again by winning by a wide margin in a constituency previously called ‘communist qilla’. It may seem that Thapa owes his victory to his charisma, but a closer look at his career would reveal that he has also been one of the hard working members of parliament in the earlier CA. He was noted for working tirelessly on environment (literally a breath of fresh air) and development issues as the CA deliberation for the constitution wrangled on, and for being the only person to turn down his salary after the CA was extended beyond its term.

Bibeksheel Nepali was another example of youth in politics this year. This is a group of educated Nepali youth that believe that the future is in their own hands. Nepali politics in recent years have frustrated many of us, but this group, instead of denouncing politicians and waiting for change, decided to “be” the change. Though they were unable to enter the CA this time around, their will has not deflated in the least. Their positive spirit and rousing slogans are definitely inspiring. Hopefully, leaders like Gagan Thapa and parties like Bibeksheel Nepali will inspire other Nepali youngsters to think of politics as something they can and should do. That alone can guarantee that politics ushers in positive change in Nepal.


Dr. Bhesh Bhandari

We knew Nepal is a land rich in biodiversity, so all Nepalis grow up in a rich natural environment. We learn to distinguish our papayas from our honeydew melons early enough. But who knew that a Nepali would invent a fruit drying technology that would have the world knocking on his doors? Dr. Bhesh Bhandari, who has been teaching in Queensland University of Australia for almost two decades, now has the world eating off of his fingers, (almost) literally. His invention is a powder that ripens fruit, so that after picking, fruits need not be stored for ripening, they can be ripened and stored straight away. The technology, which has been called “revolutionary” by industry insiders, led him to the “Excellence in Drying”Award at the International Food Technology Convention in China. Yes, more than 80 percent of Nepalis are involved in agriculture, but this is the kind of agriculture specialists that we would like to see more of in Nepal.

bhesh bhandari

Image Source: nepaliaustralian


Read About Other Group of Achievers This year in: Hall of Fame I

Text by: Sewa Bhattarai

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