Consultation with Children on Poverty, Nepal, February 2012

South Asia

On 25th Feb 2012, Shanti Sewa Ashrma (SSA) and Hindu Vidyapeeth Nepal (HVP) organized a consultation program on the theme of GNRC. Interaction and Awareness program that took place in Hindu Vidyapeeth-Nepal with the children aged group 12 - 18. These children were mainly from grades 7 - 9 from both HVP and Children Study Centre of SSA as well as from other schools. Participants were divided into different groups for further discussion who were further facilitated by Mr Vishnu Bhakta Dangi (vice principal) and Mr Ghanshyam Yogi (administrative officer). There were 60 children altogether in number from various schools and community center. Among the 60 participants mainly Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and Christians children participated.

Before the consultation on Saturday children were shown videos and power point picture on how Nepal has to suffer due to poverty. A group of student from Hindu Vidyapeeth - Nepal School visited the nearby slum area to understand better how people are suffering. Stela Shrestha, one of the students who went to slum area says, ‘it made me feel very sad to learn about these people as they have very bitter life. I promise not to waste food after seeing the misery of these people.’ It was a silent walk through the slum area as we did not want to hurt the core of the heart of the same human with asymmetrical opportunity.
Below is the schedule of the program  (On 25th Feb 2012)

Agenda of the meeting:
Welcome - Miss Sahara Pandey, HVP Graduate
Highlights on Consultation Mr. Jagannath Kandel
Inter-Faith Song Mr. Sujan B. K.
Thought on Poverty Mr Ghanshyam Yogi, Admin-officer of HVP School
Power Point Show – Motivational Mr Vishnu Bhakta Dangi, Vice-principal, HVP School
GNRC Introduction Mr Vishnu Bhakta Dangi, Vice-principal HVP School
Friendships Games Mr. Samrat Nath Yogi, coordinator YSP Nepal
Videos on Poverty a. Every 5 seconds starving kids…
b. Extreme Poverty and Hunger
c. Video and Audio-AlertNet.mp4
Group Activities/ Discussions on Poverty Mr. Abhishek K. C.
Reflections on Group Discussions
Common Discussion on the Issue 
A case sharing of a poor women from the under privileged community 
Meditation/ Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes 
Individual experience sharing on the program  
Vote of thanks Mr. Samrat Nath Yogi, coordinator YSP Nepal

Highlight on the theme of the program of the day by Jagannath Kandel with reference of Absolute and Relative poverty. Ghanshyam Yogi illustrated few bitter reality of the Nepalese rural poverty.
Vishnu Bhakta Dangi introduced GNRC and its activities. Through a power point presentation he shared messages of ‘No accurate parameters of happiness'. There was a meditation session (Self reflection) with message of putting one in other’s shoes where participants were given time to reflect after the session of putting oneself in other’s shoes. ‘Take time to hear; it’s the source of intelligence,’ Viahnu Bhakta Dangi further illustrated through power point, ‘No religion wants its devotees to fight in the name of religion.’

Issues Discussed
1. What is poverty?
2. What are its causes?
3. How are children affected by poverty- socially, morally, emotionally, physically and educationally?
4. How can this global issue be addressed - at community level, national level and International level?

Below are some caps from the children:

Ms. Sudeeksha Basyal, Grade 8
Poverty’s physical level can be minimized, so we should all work together to reduce it.

Ms. Srijana Pokhrel, grade 8
We should not only learn that poverty is extreme form of violence but we should learn the root cause of the poverty and eradicate it.

Mr. Kishor Shahi, grade 7
There could be many forms and causes of violence, I believe education which poor deprives leads to increasing violence as education can provide knowledge enhancing the mindset of the people.

Mr. Bibek Yogi, grade 9
One of the best ways to reduce violence is to provide rights equally to both men and women.

Mr. Umanga Dahal, grade 9
There should be balance between the rich and the poor as lack of opportunity increases poverty.

Ms. Riya Subedi, grade 7
Differences in thought can generate war and war can lead to poverty. So, we need to settle down the variation on thoughts making common ground for humanity and need to work united.

Ms. Stela Shrestha, grade 9
Government should provide employment to its people so that poverty can be reduced.

Martha, a British volunteer teacher for Children’s Study Club
When poverty knocks on the door, love flies from window, this is how we describe poverty in the UK but the poverty’s form and dimension could be different in communities as we are all different physically but we should not forget that we are all human.  

Total Number of participants – 60
Age Group 12-18
No# of Boys- 30
No# of Girls- 30

The Poor and His Poverty
- By Faiz Azam Saba, Grade X
Hindu Vidyapeeeth Nepal
  

You wonder if there is a tag on their forehead
Of poverty and hunger and the everlasting dread
Neither you love his birth nor his death
Never you go to his cremation after his last breath.

You think they don’t even dream to earn
Success and happiness for what they are born
I say they don’t even dare to cry
Tears may sweep away them so they keep them dry.

You say it is all because of their fate
I challenge you, you would never bet
Alas! There desperate heart bruising pleads
Make them think the God’s soul so dead.

Neither the bright lights, nor the busy streets lure
Sympathy and love is what for their wounds cure
Give him a bread crumb he will die for you
Never his object poverty will make him shy to you.

Just like the salty ocean hopes for sweet
The mountains desire for the ground to meet
The ever following rivers a second to rest
The poor wants the jubilant moments to test.

*  *  *

If
- by Elesh Aryal
Grade VIII
Hindu Vidyapeeth-Nepal

Poverty is the form of being unloved, unwanted and uncared. It is also the state, in which we cannot meet our basic needs. There are many meanings of poverty. In my view, poverty is the lack of basic capacity to participate effectively in society. Many people are facing poverty due to the lack of education and unemployment.

In the world, over 1.4 billion out of 7 billion people are in absolute poverty. Mainly children are facing poverty. They are forced to do child labor. Every child has right to enjoy happiness with an environment where they can get protection, develop and learn skills to enjoy a good future.  All the children should get value-based education, which will help them to have bright future. Children do feel very unlucky and grow disheartened. 

Many civil wars took place in the past - mainly in the name of religions.  It is good that we have forgotten those bitter and terrifying past. Christ, Buddha, Krishna, Al-ha were all born in different places, but they are the one and only supreme soul. The best way of ending war is to hold hands and so we can’t fight.

Of ½ of the world population, 3 billion of people live on less than two dollars a day. We should feel very luck that we can get all the facilities like food, clothes, etc as we want. We should think of how the children are dying every minute all over the world due to hunger and how terribly they are suffering from not having even a loaf of bread just to fill up their empty belly.

Let's think of how we would feel if we were like them. Let's imagine if we were begging just for a loaf of bread and being treated inhumanely in return. Let's visualize if we were sleeping on the side of a street without any clothes just to cover the body. Let's feel how we would survive if we ate contaminated food. Let's imagine a day what we would think if we were to wash dishes and clean rooms just for a bowl of rice with so much scolding and even beating.   And, Let's think of how we will feel if we are dying with nobody else around us.

How nice it would be if something could be started soon for the wellbeing of poor children. How wonderful it would be if every poor child has an access to a good education. How civilized society it would be if all the poor children are loved as much as the children from the well off families. How Happy God will be if every poor child receives all care and love. Nothing, as we are all aware of the fact, is greater than love and service. Through unconditional love and service to poor people, we can attain happiness and peace. This is all we want, isn't it?



The Plead of a Poor
- By Rajat Subedi, Grade X
 Hindu Vidyapeeeth Nepal
   

In this thirsty world you gave us thirst
And by giving water you taught us trust
But why have you abandoned me?
I’m waiting for you, why haven’t you accepted me?

Lord! I call upon you today
Dissolve me in your deep blue seas
Or, remove this tag and make me human
My life is worthless, living nude under your trees.
I’m tired of dying each and every day
You won’t even bother listing to what I say
In prayers and other prays, I beg you for a prey
But today I’m leaving your ruthless world, black and grey.

The air is still, your creations dreary and dead
Where have you made humans?
You just made flesh pots
Never satisfied of eating gold slots

But I’m different
Did you make me, too?
I live on street, drink from gutter
I don’t have your thirst; I don’t need your water.

*  *  *

Oh ! Poverty
- Niki maharjan
Grade VII
Hindu Vidyapeeth-Nepal
Oh! Poverty
Oh! Poverty

You always make everything loss
So hard to me and to all of us
You make people cry and cry
Never give freedom to fly high

Oh! Poverty, my life is so poor
Why don’t you give future to do more?
Life is short but left to do deeds great
There is no meaning to live as dead

Sometimes, I feel I have no more power
It is difficult to pass even an hour
Tell me! Where to live, how to live
To poor, not easy even to live.

Some say money is our basic need
Some say love is our basic need
How to know, what is important
Needs are more but things are certain

Dreams to be rich as our natural beauty
Aim to be self-helped but begging is my duty
Oh! My poverty! And our poverty!
When will these eyes see enough properly?

* * *
Street Life
- By Manjay Maharjan
Grade X
Hindu Vidyapeeth-Nepal

It all starts in the streets and ends in vile dust,
This is how life of a brat ends up.
In search of love his breath passes him.
Who will guide him to his happiness realm?

Ragged clothes, dragged hair,
He is creepy; he has fear, in his eyes blood and tear.
A scar of his wounded body don’t heal in a year,
Because he is lonely, no one to take care.

He gets up, shouts for his part of food and education.
He knows no game, he knows no shame,
Doesn’t know how to write his own country’s name,
Devoured by poverty he is the tiny drops of rain.

He raises his voice, raises his hands,
Says he wants to die for the land,
Says he needs a pen to do that,
But people throw him a coin and say go away, you brat.

He rolls up, tired of worthless work.
His childhood, his laughter it’s all lost.
“Brat, Brat”, even his life mocks.
Devoured by poverty, he is a crushed rock.

Roads, footpaths he walks, bare foot,
Nearly killed by hunger, he begs for food,
But all he gets is sandals and boots.
Yet, no one to ask, “Why are you bare foot?”

He falls down, he stays quiet.
Drinks from gutter and dreary diet
Those serpent veins and eye with dim candle light.
Devoured by poverty, he is as dead as a killed doe.
Now, he is dead as the vile dust,  dead as a killed doe.

* * *
Role of the Government in Eliminating Poverty
- By Jeevan Shahi
Grade X
Hindu Vidyapeeth-Nepal

Poverty is not a cause but a result of inefficient government. This may not be a solid statement for a country like Nepal. Nepal always had unstable government sometime on or within the claws of monarch and other time kicked within immature politicians. Although poverty is a comparative term, it can be imagined when people die because of poverty.

Although George Orwell, a Russian novelist, seldom deals with the government and its efficiency, but he teaches how to prepare for poverty. It is George Orwell who noted ‘All people are equal but some are more equal when they are post (government)’ in ‘Animal Farm’. Providing equal opportunity to all the people is a main challenge for the government to fulfil. Hence, decentralization of opportunities and using the achievements of timely revolution will help to eliminate poverty.

On the other hand corruption has digested the economy of South Asian Countries. A famous bollywood movie ‘Peeplilive’ shows live figure of corruption in Indo-Asian countries.  Chetan Bhagat (writer of 3 idiots) shows how politics have captured development works in his book ‘Revolution 2020’. It is a big challenge for the government of this region to control the corruption. In fact, governments of this region have been captive by bureaucracy (a synonym of corruption for the people). Therefore, government should ensure ‘Right to Information’ to the people to check corruption and increase the living standard of people.

Meanwhile, in the context of Nepal, government has not taken effective plan for poverty elimination. Since Nepal is an agricultural country, government should divide land uniformly among its citizens and provide skill to the farmers. It is better to arouse awareness of farmers and inform them about hybrid techniques than to give allowance because skill lasts long.

May be in the country like ours poverty elimination is just an attempt of building a castle in the air. Government of Nepal holds majority of rich people and they cannot realize the hand-to-mouth problems of poor people. At this condition the gap between poor and rich increases and the number of poor people will also keep increasing.

It is also true that the government alone cannot reduce  poverty, but it is the government that has to start something to address this huge issue. Joint effort of all people within the country can indeed help narrow down the level of poverty in Nepal.  Providing equal opportunity, maintaining transparency, provision of vocational education will for sure help to enable people to rise their economic condition decrease and in the long run enhance the development of the nation with the activie participation of people below poverty line. This is possible by developing professionalism in national politics.

* * *
  Poverty
- By Aashish Shrestha
Grade VII
Hindu Vidypeeth-Nepal

Poverty is a adverse condition in which the poor people cannot fulfil their needs and desires like proper treatment, good education, food, shelter and so on. All people have their own dreams and wishes that they can provide good education, proper health care and food to their children. Nevertheless, they cannot fulfill it due to poverty.

The actual meaning of poverty is the state of being unable to meet the basic needs through their income. It is a serious problem, due to which people are unable to get good treatment, food, health services and facilities, and entertainment. We do listen many news of people dying because of hunger, many children suffering from different types of diseases and cold in winter. Poverty is largely prevalent in developing and under developed countries.

Countries like Nepal are severely suffering from this grave problem. Nepal has several problems like power cut, unemployment, uneducation and health.  No doubt poverty is on the top. The government of Nepal is unable to put forward the effective plans and policies to eradicate poverty. Poverty is increasing and no development works are taking place.  The price of every day commodities is skyrocketing everyday. Economy is dwindling day by dya with no hope for poor people to have job opportunities.

Poverty has a serious effect on human being. It adversely affects people mentally, socially, and physically. Because of this many people get involved in many bad activities like robbery, murder etc. It is one of the major causes of disharmony in society.

Due to poverty, most of the poor people are illiterate and uneducated, so they are not aware of science and technologies. They are still entangled in superstition and false beliefs. The poorer, the more children they have. It is a reality. When there are many mouths to be fed and only one person earning money, the children will be starving and suffering from different problems.

Hence, it is clear that due to poverty very serious problems are coming up. So, to address this problem different  plans and policies are to be formulated which should be oriented towards uplifting the living standard of poor people. The solution to the problem lies in economic development and creation of job opportunities for all.

* * *

Poverty - in My Thought
- By Bibek Yogi
Grade IX
Hindu Vidyapeeth-Nepal

Poverty is the state, due to which one lacks a certain amount of material possessions or money. It means lack of basic capacity to participate effectively in the society. It means not having enough food and cloths for the family and oneself, not having a school to go to , not having the land on which to grow one’s food or a job to earn one’s living.

There are two types of poverty
1. Absolute poverty: it refers to the one who lacks basic human needs, which commonly includes clean
   fresh water, nutrition, health care education, clothing and shelter.
2. Relative poverty: it refers to lacking capabilities to compare oneself with in the society or community.

Poverty is a state of being poor. Poverty is ruinous. People of every country are suffering from poverty. Let’s take an example of my country 'Nepal'. In our country poverty is spurting. In Nepal 25.16% of people are living under the poverty. People mainly in urban areas are often suffering from it. In urban areas, they have their place to live in but it is very squalid. Poverty is proliferating in our country.

I cannot explain poverty because it is mysterious. The government prepares a few projects for the poor people to uplift their standard but on the way itself, they get lost. The country is being engulfed by widely spread corruption, and a huge amount of debts. Thus Nepal is suffering terribly from this problem. The government has no clear plans, which will take the poor people out from the darkness of poverty. It seems that our country has no government - it is so unstable, quite unimaginable. People have no employment opportunities and this has forced thousands of poor people to go to the other countries where they work as slaves and where they are tortured and behaved like animals.  Population is rapidly increasing, which is also a gateway to poverty.

For the reduction of poverty, the supply of basic needs should be increased. The development of agriculture and rural areas is paramount to tackle with this ever-growing problem.  Gandhi says: poverty is the worst form of violence. Free education system should be offered for the poor. Some concrete measures for water and food supply, sanitation and rural development should be taken.. Government should provide various awareness development programs to reduce poverty.

According to Mother Teresa, ‘we think sometime that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our homes to remedy this kind of poverty.’ Yes, to change others, first you should change. It is true that there is no easy remedy for poverty. Poor can be the leader of tomorrow if provided all necessary environments. People should have the feeling of empathy. We should raise our voice and create some changes to fight against poverty - the causes of all types of problems in the society.  Reduction of poverty should be the most important goal of every individual, every society, and every government as well as of every national and international organization.

* * *

A Case Study - shared and discussed during the program

How I Transformed
My name is Juni Kumal. I am 38 years old. My permanent home is in Tanahu District. I got married when I was just 18 years old. I have been living in Kathmandu for last 18 years. I have an 18 year old son and a 5 year old daughter. My husband has been working in Kuwait for 5 years and I don’t know when he will return home. He went there with a hope that he would earn some money that will help run the family in Nepal smoothly. But everything went in a way that I even do not want to think of it these days. I am so unfortunate that my husband does not look after me and my children. I do not know what he does with the money he is earning in Kuwait. Since then I have been struggling so much just to feed and take care of my children, and have no money to send these lovely children to a good school.

It has been extremely difficult for me to run my family. When I was young I didn’t have an opportunity to study. I had many brothers and sisters, too; my parents could not afford for our education. My parents had had terrible hardships to take care of all of us. Finally they got me to work in a rich family as a servant. First they told my parents that they would let me go to a school, but they were not true to their words; instead they betrayed me.

What an unlucky women I am. Even my husband stopped supporting me and the children. These days I do hear that he has got married with another girl in Kuwait itself. I cannot explain the pain and agony I have within me and the difficulties that I am facing while taking care of these children without any earning. My son is reading in Grade 12 and daughter in L.K.G. My son was offered full scholarship up to grade 10. Whatever hardships I underwent I always gave high priority to the education of my children. By hook or by crook I wanted to educate my children thinking that this will provide then with a bright future.  I cannot explain the struggle I did.  I have now realized why I am suffering. It is all because I did not study or did not have an opportunity to receive education. If I had had education, certainly I would have enjoyed a different life – a beautiful life with all successes.

I am totally illiterate and kept thinking how nice it would be If was able to read and write at least. One day my friend spoke to me about Shanti Sewa Ashram (SSA) and told me that SSA has been running adult literacy classes for women free of cost.  Then without any delay I went to the Ashram to know more about this program. I explained my desire to be part of this program and my happiness knew no bound. They happily allowed me to join the classes. I joined the classes for 2 years regularly. This is how I am now able to read and write by myself.


This has greatly helped me to build up my confidence and therefore feel very much privileged to have this great chance at the Ashram.

With this little qualification I gained from the Ashram, now I am working in an office at Kathmandu. I have to serve tea to the officers and to sweep the floor. Had I not received this opportunity at the Ashram, I would have never been able to get a job in an office in Kathmandu.

Though I do not go to literacy classes at Ashram now a days, I keep joining the other SSA activities regularly. The Ashram is an ideal centre which will of course educate many more women like me in the future. From the Ashram I made many good friends who always encouraged me at the time of difficulty. Everyone loved me at the Ashram and appreciated me for the progress I made in my study. Now, I can easily read books both in Nepali and English. I can even help my daughter with her homework. At last, my special thanks go to our Guru (Dr. Chintamani Yogi), who has always been the centre of inspiration and hope for all of us. May the Ashram keep flourishing in a way that it will be known all around the world.

- Miss Juni Kumal
Student of Women Education Centre
Grade:  1
Shanti Sewa Ashram / Peace Service Centre (PSC)