Kirstin Yanisch (Nepal)

Kirstin Yanisch graduated from Wellesley College with a B.A. in Political Science and French. During her time at Wellesley, she spent a January term studying women and the political economy of Ghana at the University of Ghana Legon. Following this experience, she conducted field research on women’s leadership and empowerment initiatives in local microfinance groups in the Siddi community in rural Karnataka India before spending a year studying French in Aix-en-Provence, France. During this time, Kirstin interned with the Red Cross Migrant service in Marseilles, assisting asylum seekers with filing their applications. She was named a Madeleine Korbel Albright Institute for Global Affairs fellow during her senior year of college and interned with the United Nation Foundation’s Every Woman, Every Child initiative following graduation. She then taught English in southwestern France for a year. Afterwards, she interned with the American Refugee Committee’s headquarters office in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Currently, Kirstin is enrolled in Georgetown University’s Master of Science in Foreign Service program. Upon returning from working in Nepal with the National Network for the Families of the Disappeared(NEFAD) Kirsten reflected, "I am very grateful to the Advocacy Project for the opportunity of a lifetime. Through my time with the fellowship, I was challenged to translate humanitarian principles into action and was surrounded by people who became incredible friends."

“Our Memories are in Our Eyes”

25 Jul
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An art instillation by Martin Travers from the International Day of the Disappeared 2017. The painting renders a family member with their disappeared loved ones  etched in the eyes, symbolizing a continued search for answers. Photo by Prabal Thapa.


It is easy to forget in the hustle, bustle, and laugher of the embroidery process that the members of the Bardiya Conflict Victims Cooperative have all experienced deep trauma. So often we use these blanket terms, ‘loss’ and ‘grief’ but each one is shaped like a person, just as individual as a thumbprint. ‘Enforced Disappearance’ is not really a noun. It is a verb that continues to be lived by women like Fudiya Chaudhari.


Fudiya Chaudhari (right) works with a friend on her embroidery


Through Ram Kumari and Prabal Thapa’s linguistic translations from Tharu to Nepali to English, Fudiya bravely shared her sorrow, and allowed me to share some quotes with you today. She is still waiting for answers about her son Krishna’s disappearance in 2002. He was 20 years old at the time. So very young. She told me that she cares more about knowing the truth of what happened to him than about who is guilty of the crime. For her, the investigation process is about truth rather than vengeance.


Sabitra Thapa’s Hands


In my reflections in my voice journal, I’ll also introduce you to Sarita and Sabitra Thapa. Sarita is a true leader, and she attributes her determination to her mother. The two of them are some of the loveliest people I have ever known. Sabritra’s husband was disappeared, and Sarita lost a father. After his loss, Sabrita started a shop in Bardiya to support her family. Her business serves Nepali milk tea, delicious donuts, and other treats. She reminded me of my own grandmother in her insistence that we eat more before we left. We made daily visits to her shop. Despite so much hardship, Sarita and Sabitra are leaders in their community and in the cooperative. Their hospitality knows no bounds, and they even invited us to their home for dinner, for one of my favorite nights in Nepal so far.


Hospitality: Sarita and her mother Sabitra Thapa at their tea shop in Bardiya.

Listen to Fudiya’s profound words and my (less profound) reflections here:



A huge thank you to all who donated, shared, and sent good wishes for our Global Giving project. It has been fully funded!

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Posted By Kirstin Yanisch (Nepal)

Posted Jul 25th, 2017

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