My journey to Kathmandu has been a long one so far. I battled with New Jersey turnpike traffic and won, panicked through the temporary closure of the Queensboro bridge in New York, was delayed from Milan causing me to miss my connecting flight and I’m currently sitting in my Dubai hotel room pondering the summer ahead of me (I will admit a night in Dubai isn’t the worst thing).
The time in between layovers and connecting flights has been ideal to reflect further and think about the work I will be doing with the National Network of Families of the Disappeared and Missing in Nepal (NEFAD). NEFAD is a network of families whose family members were disappeared during the 10-year civil conflict in Nepal. The organization is led by Ram Bhandhari, an active advocate for justice and human rights in Nepal. I spent the weeks prior to and after training in Washington DC reading up on Nepal’s history, conflict and transitional justice situation and realizing the importance of NEFAD in supporting and giving a voice to families of the disappeared in their search for truth and justice.
NEFAD’s approach involves families in 17 districts and is three-pronged: Advocacy; Speaking for victims at the policy level, Community mobilization and Small programs including the economic empowerment program that I will be working on in Bardiya. I will primarily be working with wives of the disappeared in the district of Bardiya,Western Nepal to create an income stream through their quilt making talents. Quilt making has been an integral part of telling their stories in a visual way and has been an advocacy tool over the years. We hope to advance their talents by expanding the range of products beyond tiger quilts to tote bags and other products and marketing them to generate a source of income. The economic aspect is all tied to the transitional justice piece as it will help create some of the conditions necessary to advance towards seeking justice.
Working with families of the disappeared particularly in a new context will be challenging and interesting, to say the least and the more I recognize that, the more responsibility I feel to tell their stories in a respectful manner and the more enthusiasm I have to hone my skills towards NEFAD’s critical mission. NEFAD’s most recent reports on Reintegration of ex-combatants and “From Victims to Actors” highlight some of their work and particularly fundamental is the fact that they seek to empower victims themselves rather than act on their behalf. I’m certainly looking forward to embarking on this journey with the team this summer. Onwards to Kathmandu.
Posted By Vicky Mogeni (Nepal)
Posted Jun 14th, 2017