They say “All our dreams can come true if we only have the courage to peruse them.” This has indeed proved to be very true again. To be there that afternoon and to be acknowledged to receive the prestigious national award of VOW Top College Women Competition 2009 was beyond expression in words for me.
I have always believed that it is my responsibility to be a part of change that I want to see and this recognition has provided me the perfect platform to do the same. I consider this achievement as a stepping stone which has stimulated me from within, both intellectually and spiritually and has motivated me much more to make a difference. I always wanted to prove that whatever I am doing is worthwhile and I am sure that this platform will help me fight for what I strongly believe in. I take it as an opportunity to sharpen my vision and magnify my skills as much as I can so that I can give a very strong contribution to my society, my community and beyond. For a girl like me who wants to take a step forward, make a positive difference, take initiative, lead, accomplish and strive for greater heights, this award has indeed pushed me much more further and given me the power to initiate the change that I want to see.
Personally, what has made me happy is not just the actual honor in itself but the recognition of handwork that we all have been putting since years to get ourselves heard and counted. I have always held my head high, being the very best of what I could be; when life seemed to fall apart, facing every difficulty with a broad smile and confidence. It wasn’t easy at times but it was at those moments of struggle that I found a stronger sense of who I am and what I am destined to do. The challenges and the changes only helped me to strive for the goals that I knew were meant to achieve. I continued to believe in myself. I always believed that tomorrow is a new dawn. Today, I much catch my breath, give my 100 % in everything I do and move ahead to achieve greater heights and today I can say that each step did bring me closer to my dreams.
Similarly in future, I hope I can occupy myself as best as I can by seizing each and every opportunity so that when I stand before god at the end of life, I wouldn’t have a single bit of talent left in me and could proudly say that ”God, I used everything that you gave me.’
I’d also like to take this opportunity to dedicate this award to all those young girls who knows where she is going and will keep on until she gets there, who not only knows what she wants in life but what she has to offer in return, who guides and inspires not only by quoting others philosophies but by living her own good example, who accepts all the victories and disappointments with the same grace and who can rise above life’s challenges and move on.
– For her courage, her determination, her foresightedness, her heroic perseverance and cheerful heart!
This flame that VOW has helped to reignite within us will definitely burn over the years to come with even greater brightness. Thank-you VOW!
The other winners from the 10+2 level were Sadichha Shrestha and Swati Shrestha. Similary, from the Bachelor’s level: Aayusha Gautam, Antara Singh and Sonu Shrestha, from the Master’s level: Kanika Agrawal, Sony KC and Sunita Nhemaphuki won the top three. The outstanding student award went to Tika Ratna Malla of Chelsea International Academy.
May 4, 2010
It’s the same story every day. You step on the street in the morning and jump out of your skin as a car hurtles towards you and swerves just before smashing you to a pulp. The driver laughs evilly and you’re still cursing him under your breath. As you pass a group of men standing at the corner, they burst into cat calls. You pretend not to hear and get into a cab. (Let me not even start about the horrors of traveling in a micro or a bus and the daily fight against being groped.) The driver adjusts his rear view mirror to get a better look at you, and you sit with your files and bag clutched close to your chest as you avoid eye contact with him through out the journey. Two men on a VR peek into the cab, decide they like what they see and follow you around for a few minutes) staring lecherously and giggling excitedly till the driver takes pity on you and waves them off.
As you complete your work and return, a ruffian whistles and another one passes a bawdy remark. Another speeding vehicle with its underage driver listening to ear-blasting music hoots as he passes by; you mutter inside, feel irritated, you hurriedly enter your gate and bang it shut as loud as you can.
And it’s just another day…..
Even if you fall prey of any harassments, some do not dare to report it to the police in fear that such a report would inevitably spread bad rumors about your chasity and morality and give you a bad name. Add to this, even if you are among those brave girls who want to nab the teaser and hold him down, the casual and indifferent attitude of the constable you take your complaint to is enough to hold you back. He looks at you with a smirk, chews on his filthy red thing and the look in his eyes is enough to express that he does not believe a word of what you have said or better still, does not care!
Covert or overt, direct or indirect, visible or invisible, structural or social, women are always both targets and victims of violence across the world. The eyes of the man who accosts a woman with evil intentions will be extracted, wrote a famous personality some 200 years ago. But still she is not spared of the evil intentions of men. It is obvious that females face difficulties, much more than her male counterpart, from birth to death, in this uneven world. Dowry, harassment, etc… The list doesn’t stop. These unjust crime bothers me deep within as I look around my society. I feel its tentacles reaching out to myself, my friends, cousins, aunts and co-workers especially when I see them cringe with fear and shrink in humiliation closing their eyes in hopes of blocking that invasion.
From derogatory remarks to outright groping, females have been a victim of it in one way or another. When you stop for a roadside snack, the vendor begins humming a lewd song. Many a times you encounter roadside Romeos who pass obscene remarks at you, make indecent gestures or postures, loutish proposals, or annoys you in a way that outrage your modesty. If it has been the same in your case then, you have just been a victim of ‘eve teasing’. In reality, women are subjected not only to remarks, songs and gestures laden with awful innuendo as stated above, but rather to actual physical molestation. It’s a common sight – a bunch of men sit at the street corner, smoking or drinking or doing both. They are definitely an unpleasant street accessory we can do well without. Most of them I term as jobless and hopeless forms of life that haven’t contributed any good to the society, just like the cockroaches that lurk in our kitchen.
Don’t you think its hard being someone who is stared at, sneered at and laughed at by these jerks? And they think they are being very funny when they behave badly. I have never been bold enough to slap a guy or confront him for giving a detailed description of my anatomy. ‘Look away and ignore’ is what I was taught as a young girl. But Eve teasing is embarrassing for the victim. I think it’s an emotional torture where someone messes with you brain. You hear things you don’t want to hear – especially from a creep who has no right to judge you. Then there is also the physical abuse of pinching, bumping, groping, stroking and other unmentionable offensive behavior. None of these are something any one enjoys from a complete stranger.
Many of us try very hard to discourage this type of daily approach. We avert our gaze to avoid eye contact. We carry books, wear headphones, and make fake cell phone calls. But unfortunately, some guys refuse to be deterred and it definitely feels exhausting to have to deal with the constant ambush of attention!
Gender segregation and ‘boys will be boys’ attitude furthers this behavior. Innumerable movies show that eve teasing eventually ‘wins’ a girl’s attention. Changing this behavior is easier said than done. However, if things are left alone, they could hardly get better. In a society like ours where male domination is ensconced in our hierarchy, the concept of ‘masculinity’ is usually equated with patriarchy. Even from my girlhood, I have learned from my surrounding that being a male means ‘powerful’, while a female means the ‘weaker sex’.
Most males (be it young boys or grown ups) take eve teasing as a joke or prank and claim that they just do it for ‘fun’, and do not mean anything serious by it. But let me ask them, would they stand quietly at the sidelines when their own kith and kin are going through such street harassment, or would they stand up against it? Or for that matter, if they themselves are subjected to the same kind of behavior by a group of rowdy young females, would they not feel pestered?
One must understand that this is not just an ordinary prank. It has serious repercussions.
Males must be made to realize that their actions to tease and harass females carry dire consequences, not just for the individuals but for everyone. I say, females do not need to wallow in self-pity, being the ‘oh so poor victims’.
We need to take firm steps to overcome this problem. We have to make ourselves to be heard; we cannot let the system discourage us. I believe that if ten of us raise a voice today, it will certainly make things better for the eleventh person tomorrow.
It is of no use recounting tale after tale of the victims, for in this case only the names change — the suffering caused is common, the inaction as horrendous and dreadful “for being a woman”…
If people keep running a blind eye to this phenomenon on the streets, in the neighbors, in public transportation, in the market places, at work or other social venues, this eve teasing will just be a part of so called “normal social routine behavior”, when in reality it is definitely not the case, at least not in a healthy and safe society. We should all start from today to speak up without being afraid and fearlessly say ‘NO’ when we are waylaid by a wink, a whistle, a lewd comment, an obscene bruising of limbs and make it known to the assaulter that such behavior is not acceptable to the least, feeling secure in the knowledge that our ‘NO’ has the strength and backing of our family,community and our society.
Till now we have just been uttering big things like women‘s liberation, empowerment, and equality. We have only been dreaming big with least in practice.
We need to change ourselves and Redefine our moral Code of Conduct.
After all we gender sisters have to stand up for each other. Change has to be invited, let us be the first one to usher it in”
May 4, 2010
Kanchan Amatya –
Scrutinizing the environment around, it became lucid that the concerned ministry was nonchalant towards the bleak scenario. Five of us, from The Marians Echo <College magazine of St. Mary’s> visited an orphanage named Balmandir in Naxal .The probity of the situation further hit me upon my interaction with the Deputy Director of this orphanage, Ms. Dangol. He complained about the lack of interest the government showed and lamented about the jeopardy that the orphanage was facing.
The story behind every innocent face rendered my heart. Each child’s story is a poignant tale, where the struggle of everyday living is a stark reality that casts its shadow-long and deep. Their condition; deplorable. Although one hears about these orphan children almost everywhere, rarely does one stop to wonder what their lives could be like. The turmoil that each went through before understanding the world around is rather incongruous. Each child is on his own voyage and quest searching for his identity. The dreams that they shared with me had the gust to break through the unbreakable. Though not that privileged, they still had hope. The hope in the institution that they reside, which has now become their only home.
I later learnt that this Balmandir was solely running independent of the government and any foreign aid which made me ponder upon the gray future that could overshadow the dreams I saw in those children’s eyes. He said that even the little money funded for the children usually ended up in the pockets of those in power. Without even committing a slightest peccadillo, what tormented me the most were these innocent beings being a silent victim of such misery. I assume, by and large, most of the orphanages have the same situation. “What we need is a panacea to this problem”, Ms. Dangol said and without being apocalyptic, he had hopes and strong determination to fight for these children’s right.
The cry of a little orphan stopped us on our tracks as the director escorted us to their respective chambers. We were strictly guide lined not to question anything about their past and family as that could enervate or even stultify these naive minds who had already made sane with their present. Soon the children hovered around. A sense of satisfaction etched from within to hear from them about their scholastic achievements.
I had never seen a group of kids more hungry for love than that. We had around five children hanging off our limbs, necks and backs. Then, there were those who clanged to the clingers. They hugged, played and fought with each other to get noticed, yearning for our love andattention. They wanted to eat mangoes to their heart’s content, go for their favorite movies; they wanted to dance on TV, like any one of us. But mostly, they wanted their identity that was in peril; a roof over their head and a family to belong. Looking at the babies crawling in their entire fours, I wondered what fate awaited them.
I had prior been to an orphanage outside the capital before. I found about fifty people there, all but few were children. There was no running water. A well that was too low to yield was outside the house where the children would pump up life’s most required element through roasted and tainted pipes. The only toilet was an afterthought without a door, that also in an abject state. A wide broken gate tilted on one hinge-useless and ignored. It was a stark symbol of the quality of life found there. The irony of this orphanage’s name remains a bitterness still.
Understaffed and underfunded, orphanages are some children’s only home. Many orphanages are crumbling relics of buildings that have no heat, water or working sanitary facilities. Bathing consists of bringing the children once a week to a barn where they are hosed off like cattle. In many instances, children are left totally unattended for most of the days. No nurturing, no contact with other children. Care is frequently poor; such that the children are often referred to by numbers. Many are sick and nearly all suffer from malnutrition. There are hardly any medical supplies, little if any medical attention. A bowl of mush or a crusty piece of moldy old bread is about as good as it gets for many of these orphans. Many orphans do not even have beds to sleep. The children sleep huddled together on decayed and rotted floors. Few caretakers care or have the means to care for the children they are employed to serve.
As we were passing through the dorms, we saw a little girl afflicted with Down Syndrome, standing quietly against the door of her room. Soon as she saw us, she shrugged with a smile and came to us. Many children who are institutionalized here had birth defects, contracted diseases, special needs, were unwanted or their parents were imprisoned or lacked the resources to take care of them, the director briefed us. One of the main reasons why infant babies are abandoned by their mothers, he said, is that they are usually born out-of-wedlock. But in the recent years, this orphanage;Balmandir has developed an extensive base with projects at nearly 100 locations throughout Nepal. It was definitely not among those ubiquitous homes that shelter orphans haphazardly.
If there were adequate social services, brighter economic conditions and a suitable democratic government, many of the children wouldn’t be living in these homes. These children suffer a lot to an extent of missing out schooling as no one is willing to pay their school dues. Then, they are exposed to child labor. Whereas, young girls are coaxed to get into marriages. Many decide to leave their homes and some even end up in suicide. These children have every right to get good education, opportunity in society to grow as a good citizen. They need protection from us to face the world and care to nurture their childhood. It is very important to make these children aware of their human rights so that they can fight against any atrocities and inhuman acts, something inside me echoed very strongly.
But still, while I departed from these children, I personally felt that those who make it to this orphanage are lucky as there are countless of babies who are just thrown into the dirty Tukucha River, hours after being born.
This particular day definitely put my life into a standpoint. As I left, I vowed myself to make their innocent voices heard through every feasible way I could. I hope in some way I am.