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."



THE BIG DECISION

04 Sep

I just left Gaighat and after a relatively uneventful bus-ride I arrived back in Kathmandu (enabled by a surprisingly effective police effort to keep the roads open despite attempts at a Bandha). According to my original plan this should have been my last blog and I should have already arrived back in California and started classes. As happens, the plan has changed. I have decided to stay in Nepal for the coming semester, move from Gaighat to Kathmandu, and return to the USA at the end of the year to resume my courses next semester.

“Why,” you may ask, have you made this decision? The essence of my decision is that I feel this is a particularly interesting time to be in Nepal with elections scheduled for 22 November, and having recently summitted the peak of an intense language and cultural learning curve, I simply didn’t feel ready to leave. Once I decided to explore the possibility of staying I quickly became amazed at how doors effortlessly opened and things began to fall into place. Overall it has been a surprisingly easy decision to stay.

“So, what will you be doing,” is a logical next question…

If you read my previous blog you will know that I have come across an amazing Nepali female leader by the name of Sarita Giri (pictured below during the 2006 People’s Movement –http://www.peacexpeace.org/resources/images/Sarita2.jpg).

After our work at the Madheshi Women’s National Conference, Sarita asked me to continue with her for the next few months. The bottom line is we will help women get elected in Nepal’s upcoming Constitutional Assembly election – and hopefully simultaneously bring women’s voices into the national discourse to support the process of stabilizing and bringing peace to Nepal.

As I’m sure you know if you’ve been reading my blogs I have been deeply touched this summer by the circumstances facing women in Nepal. Though elections were not something I directly set out to work on, after a little reflection I decided that at this moment the most effective way to help Nepali women improve their prospects is to support their inclusion in the creation of Nepal’s new Constitution. Not only will this give women a voice and an opportunity to advocate for vital issues affecting them at a national level, but it will increase the likelihood that a favorable national structure for addressing these issues will be created. A side effect is that even if women are elected in limited numbers, this process alone will increase their participation in political life and develop the capacity of many as local and national leaders.

Even though there is a definite potential that elections will not be held as scheduled on 22 November, this is still an incredible time to be in Nepal, and I feel blessed with an amazing opportunity to help organize a national women’s movement. My personal hope is that after the elections this movement will continue on in an organized way to address some of the overwhelming issues affecting women across Nepal.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned over the summer is that things don’t tend to go according to plan, particularly in Nepal. And, staying consistent to my nature, during my remaining time here I also hope to juggle a few other projects that will continue to supporting the work of the other great organizations I’ve come to know. Thus, it is likely that as things unfold there will be a few twists to the current plot outline… Stay tuned!

ME AND MY CO-WORKERS AFTER MY FIRST “RICE TRANSPLANTION” LESSON

Posted By Nicole Farkouh

Posted Sep 4th, 2014

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