It’s hard to believe, but in just over 24 hours I’ll be getting on a plane to Kathmandu. To get ready for my fellowship, I’ve spent three months reading up on Nepali history and politics, one week in advocacy training boot camp in DC, and just a few manic hours packing. This summer, I’ll be working with the National Network of Families of the Disappeared and Missing of Nepal (NEFAD) to set up an income generation project for family members of the disappeared, and to support NEFAD as it advocates for justice.
If I’ve learned anything from the many books, blogs, and articles I’ve read about Nepal’s civil war, it’s that the politics around the conflict are still incredibly complicated. With this in mind, I plan to spend my fellowship listening to and learning from as many people as I can to understand the aftermath of the war and the challenges of the reconciliation process.
Luckily, I’ll have plenty of help from my supervisor at NEFAD – Ram Kumar Bhandari. Ram is one of the leading activists in Nepal for the 1500 families of individuals who were forcibly disappeared during the civil war. He has dedicated his life to speaking out on behalf of the missing in Nepal, and has tirelessly advocated for justice for these families and their missing loved ones. I am honored to be working with Ram and his network of family members and activists throughout Nepal on this issue.
One way I’ll be contributing to NEFAD’s mission this summer is by setting up an advocacy quilting program that will allow the wives of the disappeared tell their stories. The Advocacy Project has supported many quilting projects in places as diverse as Bosnia, Guatemala, and Mali, producing beautiful and powerful quilts that honor the courage and resiliency of the women who made them. In addition, the embroidery techniques the women learn while advocacy quilting gives them a marketable skill that will help provide them an income to support their families.
Stay tuned to this blog all summer – I’ll be documenting my work with Ram and NEFAD, the quilting project, and all of my adventures in the Himalayas. Look out for future blog posts such as:
– A (very brief) explainer on Nepal’s civil war and its aftermath
– Interviews with the advocacy quilters, activists, Maoist ex-combatants, families of the missing, and the many other people impacted by the conflict
– Reports on daily life in Kathmandu
– My hike to Everest base camp (kidding!)
For more adventures in advocacy, check out the Advocacy Project for the blogs of the 11 other Peace Fellows doing amazing work around the world.
Posted By Megan Keeling (Nepal)
Posted May 27th, 2016