Arriving in a new country and context can be overwhelming, and having someone to welcome and help through the process is definitely a relief. Extremely kind, smart and resourceful, Prabal welcomed us and has worked hand in hand with Kirstin and I from our first week on a listening tour, during our time in Kathmandu to our travels to Bardiya.
Prabal Thapa is a student at Kathmandu University majoring in Development Studies. He is particularly interested in Economics and has been working with NEFAD since 2015. He initially served as a volunteer and worked in a logistical capacity with various victim and family networks alongside Ram Bhandari, founder of NEFAD and his mentor. Since then, his role as developed to translation of interviews and program assistance. He is now the first NEFAD Associate and will be responsible for a variety of tasks including website management and coordination of the Bardiya Embroidery Cooperative. His technical skills and language proficiency in English and Nepali will be an asset towards improving the NEFAD’s website and online presence. Beyond IT and language, Prabal’s dedication to the mission of NEFAD, innovative mindset and familiarity with the context in Nepal make him well-suited for the role.
Prabal is a native of Lamjung district in Western Nepal, where he grew up with his siblings and parents. Most of his family now resides in Chitwan. He often recalls that he had a unique upbringing because he had the opportunity to see his country through various transitions; from conflict, to peace negotiations, amendments to the constitution, the end of the monarchy and now through the transitional justice process. He was around 10 years old at the height of the conflict and recounted one of his most profound memories: an encounter on a grape tree with the army and the rebel groups. Within just 45 minutes of each other both groups passed Prabal as he sat on the tree and asked for grapes, a request Prabal obliged to in both cases and both the army and Maoists went their separate ways. Prabal recalls that “They were so close to each other, in time and in distance, and if they had met, there would have been a big fight.”
Prabal’s name means maximum potential and through our interactions with him, it is clear that he intends to achieve just that. He hopes to pursue a post-graduate degree in Ireland and his long term plan he says is “to be a researcher and later become a professor.” For now, Prabal dedicated to giving a voice to victims of the conflict as well as supporting their livelihood and economic programs. “NEFAD remains a key organization in helping victims speak about about their marginalization.”
It has been a privilege getting to know Prabal and working with him throughout the summer. In many ways, he defined the work we were able to accomplish. It has been a mutual learning process and I’ve learnt a great deal about Nepal’s history and culture from Prabal. Leaving Nepal in a few days, I’m confident his work will continue to strengthen NEFAD and hope to see him achieve his personal and professional goals in the coming years.
Listen more below as Prabal speaks about working with NEFAD and shares his insights on the transitional justice process in Nepal.
Posted By Vicky Mogeni (Nepal)
Posted Aug 12th, 2017