In May 2017 Peace Perspectives visited several villages in Umakunda in Ramechhap District, Nepal and asked what peace means to them. The initial phase of field research is the collection, documentation, and analysis of these definitions of peace. The themes from the interviews range from family to community and basic services to government assistance. The interviews also reflect that, for some residents, peace is an active verb with a long-term vision. Their definitions also comprise negative peace, which is the absence of conflict, and positive peace, which is the absence of structural forms of violence. Based on these interviews, Peace Perspectives is working with the local community to fulfill their peace aspirations. One of these aspirations relates to a better future for their children. With education as one of the key factors in ensuring a child’s better future, Peace Perspectives launched a book drive for the benefit of the elementary school in Bamti village.
Our field research report is available here.
When was the last time we asked everyday people what peace means to them? We, at Peace Perspectives, aspire to learn from local communities instead of imposing top-down, locally insensitive perspectives. Encouraging bottom-up and grassroots-level initiatives promotes lasting and more sustainable peace projects. Help us work alongside them via www.gofundme.com/booksforpeace
Listen to the voices of Umakunda residents in this video* and tell us what is the most common theme from their peace perspectives.
*We do not claim that these perspectives are representative of the whole population of Umakunda but we believe that every voice is worth listening to.
The Academic Council on the United Nations System (ACUNS) interviewed our co-founder and Executive Director about Peace Perspectives, in addition to her PhD research and recent publication. The following is an excerpt from the ACUNS website.
In this Professional Development podcast, the 2015 Dissertation Award Winner, Dahlia Simangan, is joined by ACUNS Book Review Editor, Anastasia Ufimtseva, to discuss Dahlia’s experiences as a PhD student and her current work as a founder of Peace Perspectives. Dahlia won the Dissertation Award for her work on “The Limits of Liberal Peacebuilding and Pitfalls of Local Involvement: Cambodia, Kosovo, and Timor-Leste in Retrospect”. Considering the merits and pitfalls of both ‘top-down’ and ‘bottom-up’ approaches, Dahlia proposes a middle ground that finds a balance between liberal peacebuilding and local involvement.
Since completing her dissertation, Dahlia has been dedicating her time to Peace Perspectives, “an independent, non-profit international organization committed to the promotion of inclusive and lasting peace.” Founded in March 2017 and based in Nepal, the organization operates on the principle that every local peace perspective deserves equal consideration, and promotes small-scale community outreach.
The podcast is available here and the discussion about Peace Perspectives starts at 18:40.
We are happy to share some of the photos of our volunteer models, Pragya and Robin, wearing our official Peace Perspectives t-shirt and taken by our Public Relations Officer, Sudeep. These are the t-shirts donors will receive when they donate US$101 or more and those who bought tickets for our launch/first charity event.
Field Report by Riyaz Karki
Narayan Mahat is originally from Arghakhanchi District but now resides at Gorusinghey, Kapilvastu. He served the Indian army for more than 20 years until his retirement last year. He now drives a e-rickshaw for a living. His rickshaw is a sustainable and affordable form of transportation benefitting local people of Gorusinghey for short distance travelling. He also sits as a Secretary in Hindu Hymn Association of Gorusinghey, Kapilvastu.
When asked what peace meant to him, Narayan responded:
If my family members, including myself, are able to exercise our rights fully, I’m at a state of peace.
Narayan believes that peace should start within the family as it is the most basic unit of society. He adds that if a family is happy and at state of peace then neighbours, and ultimately all members of society, get encouraged to live the same.
Nepal, however, is fraught with issues related to family well-being. Nepal’s legal stipulations on the rights of women and children, for example, look excellent on paper but it is often disregarded mainly due to absence of consistent implementation and oversight mechanisms. Civil society organisations are working with the government on how to protect women and children from oppression and exploitation. Peace Perspectives joins in this initiative by echoing the peace aspirations of all Nepalese, including women, children, and other marginalised groups. Learn more about our work and consider donating to our community outreach activities.
In line with our upcoming launch event on May 6, 2017, Peace Perspectives is starting a global peace conversation using #thisismyPEACE. With conflicts and humanitarian crises that we are witnessing around the world right now, this is our simple contribution to peace promotion.
You can join this global peace conversation through any or all of the following.
- Take a photo of yourself holding #thisismyPEACE sign and include a 1-2 sentence caption of what does peace mean to you. You can download this sign and print or create your own.
- Take a photo the depicts your peace perspective and include a 1-2 sentence photo description.
- Take a video of yourself explaining what does peace mean to you. We request that your videos do not take longer than a minute.
We invite you to share your peace perspective via Instagram, Facebook, and/or Twitter. We also invite you to tap at least two of your friends to share their peace perspectives for us to engage as many people as possible and promote diversity in peace.
An infographic prepared by Peace Perspectives
While winnowing her grains at mid-day sun, we met 53-year-old Dumkala Adhikari. Her husband works all day on the field because it is the only source of income for their family of six. After marriage she came to Basantapur, Kapilvastu in the southern part of Nepal where she now resides. She originally hails from Arghakhanchi District, Western Nepal.
On being asked what peace meant to her, she said:
Peace means being free of diseases and not to suffer from any illnesses. My heart is at peace. If you are not sick, it is good for family as well.
Dumkala has not been able to work due to her illness. She added that it has become very difficult for her husband to work alone on the fields. Expensive medical charges make her reluctant to regularly visit a doctor. She is currently under limited medication and her husband bears all her medical expenses.
Dumkala hopes to get rid of all her diseases so that she could resume in contributing to household expenses, which ultimately leads to happiness among family members. For Dumkala, peace means a healthy life.
According to World Health Organization’s 2015 data, Nepal’s life expectancy is at 69.2 years, ranking 118th out of 183 countries. At a glance, this is a fairly good indicator considering that the average life expectancy worldwide is 71 years. However, based on the recently developed Health Adjusted Life Expectancy (HALE), which measures years lived healthily and without disability, Nepal’s life expectancy lowers down to 61.1 years and ranking 121st out of 183 countries in 2015. Furthermore, if 33-health related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) indicators are factored in, Nepal gives a starker picture ranking only 158th out of 188 countries in 2015.
Learn more about our work or consider donating to our research and outreach activities to help us work with people like Dumkala in living a healthy and peaceful life in Nepal.
Prepared by Riyaz Karki
Lead Field Researcher, Nepal
Behind a row of cows, Damar carries a stick and a “kukri” or Nepalese knife. We encountered him and his herd while traversing the steep hills of Simma, a remote village in the eastern region of Nepal.
“What can I do? All my sons are “laure” (overseas workers) and I’m the only one left in my family to do the herding.” This was his response when Suman asked him why he’s still herding that late afternoon. Damar is 84 years old.
If I am well, that is peace. If I don’t have to worry about food and shelter, for example.
Damar’s definition of peace is as simple as his life.
He talked more about his sons. There was a glimmer of pride but also hint of loneliness in his eyes.
Damar is a manifestation of an emigration phenomenon affecting every corner and sector of Nepal and every aspect of its people’s well-being. BBC reported in 2015 that “more than three-and-a-half million Nepalis – that’s well over 10% of the population of this mountainous, underdeveloped country – have left to work abroad over the past 20 years.” When a 7.8-magnitude earthquake shook the country in April 2015, the consequences of this massive outflow of people became more apparent. There was no one left to rebuild. And the devastation of this natural disaster forced more Nepalese to leave the country.
While more young men and women leave the country for greener pastures, people like Damar are left behind to continue living in the pastures of Nepal.
Learn more about our work or consider donating to our research and outreach activities to help us work with people like Damar in sustaining a simple and peaceful life in Nepal.
Govinda Gurung owns the lodge we stayed in. It was like a homestay: we ate what they ate and slept where they slept. Throughout our stay, the lodge was always packed with travellers who walked for hours across the hills and needed warm food and shelter for the night. Every night, strangers huddled around the fire, talking to while their time, and becoming closer like a family when the last ember died.
Every day, Govinda bids goodbye to the family he fed and sheltered the previous night. It’s a daily cycle-a cycle that he is now used to. In any case, he has a family that never leaves: a wife, four sons, three daughters, and a granddaughter. The seemingly endless greetings and farewells are comforted by the fact that he has a family that stays with him every night, by the fire, and every morning, before the first ray of the sun bathes the hills he calls home.
Before we left Simma, we asked Govinda what peace means to him. His answer, like his way of life, was communal.
Peace means happiness and facilities in village or country.
How about you? What is your peace perspective? Is it personal or is it communal like Govinda’s? Share your definition here or consider donating to Peace Perspectives to help us fulfil Govinda’s definition of peace.