I depart for Nepal in a matter of days. Already I feel great hope, excitement, and nervous anticipation for what this summer will bring. I am so lucky to be able to stand beside a body of people invested in their cause with their lives. I am also thrilled to be able to attach faces and names to a country that until several months ago, conjured little more than melodies of Bob Seger songs and mountaineering tales.
As I pack, news alerts on Nepal hit my email inbox reminding me of what an important time it is to be working for human rights there. Because it is a relatively young post-conflict society, Nepal has lots of momentum and represents great potential for advancing peace among its people and the region.
But as I bounce around Washington crossing off a seemingly never ending list of things like Visa applications and hepatitis vaccinations, I am also reminded of how much there is to learn about the issue I’m working on. I’ll be advocating on behalf of Nepal’s Dalit or “untouchable” caste – a group of people marginalized for simply being born at the bottom end of a social hierarchy. This is something that challenges my own understanding of civil society. I guess that’s not entirely true, for discrimination is discrimination right? A drive past Washington, DC’s U Street Corridor, the site of the largest race riots the U.S. has ever seen, attests to my own country’s battles with discrimination. But is this even a valid comparison? Can discrimination based on birthright be compared to discrimination based on skin color or even religion?
There are so many questions I’ll attempt to ask, and even more I hope to answer. But at the very least I hope my work this summer will serve to further human rights in Nepal on some small level, and become proof of just how important advocacy on a global level can be.
Posted By Devin Greenleaf
Posted Jun 4th, 2007