Nicole Farkouh

Nicole Farkouh (Collective Campaign for Peace – COCAP): Nicole graduated from Smith College with a BA in Cultural Anthropology. She also has a Master of Education from the University of New Orleans. Nicole’s professional background is in education. She has worked as a teacher, administrator, and consultant, mainly with middle school students with special needs. She is also a certified community mediator and has studied a complementary model of mediation based on Non-Violent Communication. She has studied abroad in India, lived and taught in Mexico. At the time of her fellowship, she was studying for a Master of Public Policy degree at the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley. After her fellowship, Nicole wrote: "More than anything, this summer I received a new level of understanding /appreciation for the complexity involved in “development” and “human rights” work…. Particularly being a foreign body trying to work in a new culture."


06 Nov

Coincidently, the “great festival” of Dashain was held shortly after the election tragedy. On one hand this further delayed political reconciliation and there STILL is no fixed date for the election or a clear consensus between the Maoists and other parties. On the other hand it also gave everyone a 10-day break from the stress to enjoy time with their families and possibly take out some of their lingering frustration on their goats (see the coming blog for more detail).

A month later, the Dashain festivities have waned and people are getting back into the routine. Though people are still waiting for concrete information, they are also beginning to demonstrate the resilience they have surely developed from almost 2 decades of intense political turmoil. My colleagues and friends are reacting in various ways.

Gorgeous tree seen during the return from a trek to Rauta Pond, Udayapur

Sarita Giri and CWAP have identified a silver lining of more time to educate and organize Madheshi women in preparation for the election and we are charging full speed ahead to locate more funding. The folks at COCAP will be able to organize a General Assembly meeting of all their member organizations to develop a national strategy for continuing the call for elections and supporting them when they are held. My friends at NESPEC are free to re-focusing all of their energy on launching a new development project focused on children’s welfare through a partnership with ActionAid International and will return to their election-based activities once things are more concrete.

On a personal note, to try to grasp all that has happened I keep trying to imagine what would happen in the US if next October Congress suddenly determined that due to stalled negotiations between the Democrats and Republicans the November ’08 elections were going to be postponed, with the new date to be forthcoming. As much as I try to stretch my imagination, I still can’t seem to play it out – I just can’t see something like that actually happening in the US.

View of Pokhara and one of it’s 6 lakes (Anapurna 2 and Fishtail barely visible in the clouds)

As much as we Americans grumble and are dissatisfied with our government and our society (from any of a number of perspectives) at least there are enough checks and balances to keep the wheels moving. That is something I’ve never taken pause to appreciate. More than anything, this past month has given me an opportunity to reflect (yet again) on what it means to live in a stable society and about all the associated benefits I so take for granted. Not to say that we should become complacent or stop working to bring about the change we feel is necessary. But perhaps doing so with an appreciation for the system we have to work within might make it easier to find common ground.

Though I’m incredibly sad that the elections won’t be happening as scheduled and concerned about the peace process in general, things certainly haven’t been lacking in stimulation or opportunity to educate myself. As frustrating as all the chaos has been, this has been a fascinating process to watch and I haven’t for a second wished I had returned to the US in August instead of extending my stay. For my remaining weeks (the countdown has started) I’ll be continuing to support the work of the organizations I’ve become connected with however I can, and hopefully spend a little more time doing work on the uterus prolapse issue.

I’ll also be keeping my fingers crossed that the elections will be rescheduled soon and that despite soap operatic twists and turn, Nepal will continue making progress to becoming the Democratic Republic that so many people here crave.

Rice paddies and fields treking toward Sarankot, near Pokhara

Posted By Nicole Farkouh

Posted Nov 6th, 2007

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