Rachel Petit (Nepal)

Rachel Petit is a 23-year-old Canadian, currently pursuing a Masters degree in Human Rights and Humanitarian Action concentrating in global health at Sciences Po’s Paris School of International Affairs. Before coming to Paris, Rachel graduated from the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine with a Bachelor’s degree in Health Sciences, majoring in health and society. Over the course of her degrees, Rachel has been actively involved in advocating for the human rights of homeless and at-risk youth in Calgary and refugees in Paris. Rachel is working towards a career in international health advocacy and is grateful for the opportunity to develop her skills with The Advocacy Project. Rachel was drawn to working with AP, and specifically with CWN, out of a desire to contribute towards sustainable initiatives that support Nepali women in the realization of their right to health. Upon her return from Nepal, Rachel reflected that, "to arrive at one’s own conception of happiness, there is a minimum set of conditions that must be afforded to all individuals, regardless of cultural context, in order for them to be able to realize their full potential as human beings capable of exercising rational choices."

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter

29 May

After 30 hours of travel I have arrived in Kathmandu. While I had planned to pass the time en route reading, I mostly found myself reflecting on the people I met over the course of the past two weeks in Washington, D.C. I feel immense gratitude. One does not meet people like Karen, Iain, Cynthia, Reina, Talley, Vicky, Kristin, Lauren, Jacob and Alberto very often. This year’s AP fellows are undoubtedly some of the most inspirational people that I have ever come across. They all have an inner strength and drive that I admire and aspire to hone throughout my own advocacy work. I know that they will all do amazing work with their respective projects, and throughout their lives.

All AP fellows were also provided with training in videography, website development, monitoring and evaluation and podcasting among other skills that would be important for our fellowships. I want to send out a huge thank you to everyone who took the time to share their expertise with us. I would also like to recognize that The Advocacy Project could not exist without the assiduous work of Iain Guest and Karen Delaney. Iain and Karen are tirelessly working to provide life changing opportunities to young graduates like myself as well as to grass roots organizations globally.

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I want to continually strive to surround myself with people like those that I met this past week. Importantly, the time I spent with AP reinforced that the path that I have been heading down is the right one for me. As I sit here in a café alone, listening to the rain wash over Kathmandu, I miss my loved ones, but I also realize now that there is nowhere else I would rather be. I am happiest when I feel that I am using my time in a way that will advance human rights (if only in a marginal way). While the answer to the question of “what is happiness” likely has as many variations as there are people in the world, the more I study and apply what I’ve learned to real human rights issues, the answer becomes increasingly simple. For me, happiness is knowing that you are doing everything in your power to improve the lives of individuals. This could be at home or abroad.

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Happiness is the realization of human capability, both in the case of oneself and others. Sometimes, this means getting loud about human rights issues that aren’t sufficiently addressed by the global community. While in D.C, I passed a sign on someone’s lawn that resonated with me, and is one of the core reasons that I believe human rights work is so invaluable. The sign read: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” – Martin Luther King, Jr. This summer, I hope that I can advance recognition of the human rights dimension of uterine prolapse (UP) to garner government and donors support for the work of Care Women Nepal (CWN). I will explore UP and the role that CWN plays in addressing UP in a later post. Markedly, uterine prolapse is, for many, an uncomfortable topic to discuss, but that does not mean that the international community should not raise its collective voice in defence of women’s sexual and reproductive health rights as it has done in the past in the case of many civil and political human rights issues.

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Finally, within my blogs, each week I would like to introduce you to someone that I met along my journey. One of the first people that I interacted with in Nepal was named Biessenu. Biessenu transported me safely from the airport to where I am staying in Thamel. I was in awe at the way he navigated his way through heavy traffic that seemingly followed no set of concrete rules. No seatbelts? No problem. No traffic lights? No need! Biessenu used to work for the Nepali police force, and so we even gave a ride to a police officer on the way to Thamel. I was feeling extra safe with the exception of the 2 or 3 near head on collisions… I’m kidding.. kind of…

Biessenu has two beautiful children and used to work in Haiti within a UN mission. He explained to me that he believes international aid in Haiti to be insufficient. He asked me about what I could be doing in Nepal and was genuinely interested in the work of CWN. I am very thankful for Biessenu’s kindness, driving skills and for a great first conversation in Nepal.

 अर्को पटक सम्म

Posted By Rachel Petit (Nepal)

Posted May 29th, 2017


  • Karen Delaney

    June 4, 2017


    Rachel, it was such a pleasure getting to know you during training. You are so capable, and I’m sure everyone will see that in Nepal. Keep us posted and remember to expect the unexpected! Love form DC.

  • Iain

    June 5, 2017


    I’m not at all surprised that you got such a big smile from your first taxi driver! We thoroughly enjoyed your company at training, and CWN is very lucky to have you in their corner. Look forward to plenty of lively blogs in the weeks to come!

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