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.
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.
On May 6, 2017, we held a charity event to officially launch Peace Perspectives. Around a hundred people attended our event and shared their definition of peace. We exhibited photos depicting peace and watched performances by Upendra & Friends and Mohit & Friends. Aside from our working committee, we also had peace volunteers who helped in organizing, setting up, and documenting our event. With our official launching successfully done, our real work starts now. We will be traveling again to remote villages in Nepal to collect peace perspectives from everyday people and implement community projects based on their peace aspirations.
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.