I was in Dhital village of Kaski District during October and November of 2011 with other team members to research and produce a documentary film on the issues of women and children in rural Nepal. In that time, our team came to know Nanimaya Nepali, a Dalit woman who continued to give birth in the hope of having a son. Seven of her 9 children had survived, all daughters.
Ek Bahadur Nepali, Nanimaya’s husband, neglected her and took an additional wife who bore him three sons. Ek Bahadur said he was happy with his large family although he admitted the struggle to care for so many children was a hardship. When we visited the Nepali home, Nanimaya was living with four of her daughters in one room (three had already married and moved away since the family was unable to feed and educate them). Ek Bahadur’s other wife and three sons shared a room next to the one used by Nanimaya and her children. The two tiny rooms that comprised the house provided shelter for ten people.
Our team spent one month charting Nanimaya’s day-to-day activities, listening to her sorrows, learning about hardships of Dalit women, and talking with her and her daughters about their dreams for the future. During that time, I gained in-depth knowledge about the challenges and struggles of the Dalit people. I had grown up in a rural area, and I knew Dalits had more difficult lives than others in rural Nepal, but I did not know Dalit women and children in ultra-poor families faced such extreme hardships just to stay alive.
During my stay, I began to understand poverty in greater depth and scope than I had learned from books and professors. I realized poverty’s impact is not limited to an economic dimension; it also has social and cultural dimensions. In the case of Nanimaya, she had not been destitute when she married, but because she continued to have children based on traditional social and cultural values that motivated her to want a son, her level of poverty dramatically increased. As a result, her quality of life and status in society declined, she was neglected by her family and husband, and she could not afford healthcare or education that might someday allow her daughters to enjoy respectable and equitable lives in society.
In the current scenario of Nepal, most Dalit right movements are limited to city areas. So, I came up with the idea of establishing a grassroots development organization that focuses its activities in rural areas, putting disadvantaged and Dalits like Nanimaya’s family at the center of development activities.
On October 17, 2012—on the occasion of International Day for the Eradication of Poverty—I organized a small gathering of educators, child rights activists, Dalit rights activists, social/development workers, and others at Miracle Café in Pokhara to discuss the establishment of a grassroots organization in Kaski, Nepal. After informal talks, we agreed to form a steering committee to further develop our ideas and to begin the registration process.
On 9th January, 2014, PFPA was officially registered with Government of Nepal.
– Bhuvan Poudel