Devin Greenleaf

Devin Greenleaf (Jagaran Media Center): Devin developed his business and marketing skills in the private sector before pursuing a BA in English at the University of Utah. His spent his spare time programming the Amnesty International Human Rights Film Festival and teaching language and life skills to immigrants. At the time of his fellowship, Devin was studying for a Master’s degree at American University’s School of International Service, where he researched the intersection of communication and international human rights. Devin was also active in the American University’s Center for Social Media.

Foreign Dalit

22 Jun

This weekend marked an incredibly important occasion for civil rights in Nepal. The Jagaran Media Center (JMC) in conjunction with 19 other civil society organizations, assembled over 2000 Dalits from every corner of Nepal. The purpose of this historic assembly was the creating of a unified agenda for inclusion in the New Nepal.

It was amazing. So many different people from all walks of life converged on the lawn of a small school campus, each and every one full of so much hope and pride. A Dalit Badi woman stood on the stage before everyone and passionately explained before central government figures what its like for women to be relegated to prostitution by their sub-caste. This was quite harrowing, and no-doubt powerful to the politicians unfamiliar with some of the limitations that can be imposed by caste.

There was also a great celebration of Dalit people by the music played throughout the asesmbly by the Gandharba (sub-caste of artists) musicians. Their frequent song provided complete testament of just how integral Dalits are to traditional Nepali culture.

I had the wonderful opportunity to interview scores of people, from the organizers to youth just happy to be involved. Each expressed individual reasons for being part of the historical event, but one sentiment was unanimous. They were there because they knew they had to be. They know better than anyone that if there’s a change to be made, they must be the driving force. – and at a time when the political parties frantically seek their own representation in the new government, that’s exactly what they’re doing.

It was an exhilarating day. I felt like I’d observed a glimpse of what it means to be Dalit in Nepal through the speaches I’d heard and the people I met. But one of the best parts was when Suvash (the Director of the Assembly) told me that he’d been asked by numerous people throughout the day whether Ted and I (being only two of three foreigners at the assembly), were foreign Dalit. After a day of witnessing the great Dalit pride and solidarity, it felt happy to be included.

Posted By Devin Greenleaf

Posted Jun 22nd, 2007


  • Jer

    June 26, 2007


    How do you understand what the speakers are saying…do you have someone standing there translating the entire time?

  • Sally

    July 2, 2007


    Namaste Devin,

    Great to hear about all the pride at the event. It’s a good first step — ultimately, I hope, everyone will come to see the important role that dalits have played in the culture, and will realize that’s part of the shared heritage of all Nepalis.

    Not to mention the economic role … After all, the jobs dalits have traditionally done (smiths, tanners, etc) are a big part of what keeps the rural economy going.

    Enjoy the daal bhaat, chhia, dial-up modems and load shedding!

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