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Unsung Heroes: Hope for New Nepal PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Pradeep Thapa Magar   
Saturday, 25 April 2009 11:54

New York, Let's salute those who are Nepalese in their hearts if not by birth. New hope for new Nepal  was dramatically demonstrated last night at a New York University auditorium in Manhattan where Rajeev Goyal, an Indian-American former Peace Corps volunteer to Nepal, showed the audience what we can all do to help make this happen. Goyal and his teammates are guardians of a selfless path to help needy villagers of Bhedetar Village in the Dhankuta District.

Rajeev and his teammates. Photos: eEyeCam

Rajeev Goyal was beaming as he said to the crowd of more than 100: "Let's raise 30 thousand dollars in 4 hours. We can do it. We have to do it for people in need in Nepal."

The event "Hope for Agriculture (Krisiko Asha)" was a fundraiser and the 4th installment in the "Hope for Nepal" series designed and organized by him and his teammates over the last 4 years.
Rajeev Goyal.  Photos: eEyeCam

Without a moment’s hesitation he said, "I know there is a recession. We all are screwed, but we have to raise 30 thousand dollars tonight." And he jokingly added "Money is nothing but numbers."

One donor committed 5 thousand dollars, some doled out 2 thousand dollars. He raised more than 3 thousand dollars by collecting 100 dollar donations from individual donors.

He actually collected more than 20 thousand dollars in 4 hours.

Mission accomplished!

Why does Rajeev need $ 30,000?

According to Rajeev, all proceeds benefit the Greening Villages Movement which was initiated to empower the 4,500 people living in the 16 villages of Bhedetar VDC to develop a proactive and environmentally focused response to a recent toll of urbanization. The project will focus on building awareness about conservation of the existing rich ecology, to support and strengthen the agricultural community with introduction of low-tech sustainable environmental practices, and to instill hands-on outdoor learning in the schools.

Co-host of the event, architectural engineer Priyanka Bista who helped design schools and homes in the village, explained how the greening project is taking place.
Priyanka Bista.  Photos: eEyeCam

She explained that the Thumki Agriculture Plot will cost $ 14, 400 dollars and will create an agriculture demonstration plot, arboretum, and community playground in a natural area to promote the understanding of the relationship to land, sustainable farming, permaculture concepts, and modern vernacular construction techniques.

The Greening Schools Initiative will cost $ 10,000 dollars and will introduce agricultural and environmental awareness into the education system by promoting hands-on field-based education, school gardens, art and nature interactions, and food creation.

The Farming Community intervention will cost $ 4,600 dollars and will create a moral and financial support structure to teach local farmers new agricultural methods and technologies.

What has been done in the past?


The previous three programs of 'Hope for Nepal'  raised USD $ 145,000 or 1 crore 13 lakhs Nepalese rupees which financed new education infrastructure, water capacity building, off-season vegetable production projects in the same village.

At last night’s event, 3  American benefactors and one Nepali scholar were honored for their commitment and dedication to alleviating poverty in Nepal.
Shella Chelleren.  Photos: eEyeCam

Shella Chelleren who donated $50,000 dollars (39 lakhs rupees) for previous projects, was one  honouree.

Stephanie Odegard was another award recipient. She  is  the founder of  Odegard Inc which, through her commitment to service and philanthropy, helped to eliminate child labor in the Nepal carpet industry.  Ms. Odegard volunteered in the Peace Corps in Fiji, performed pioneering work with the World Bank in Nepal, and her led the Rugmark Foundation in seeking to eliminate child labor in the carpet industry. Her true compassion is for the people of Nepal,  her commitment to social justice, environmental standards, and excellence in arts and design.
Stephanie Odegard.  Photos: eEyeCam

She presented her slide show about the work she has done in Nepal and other countries. Visit her sites: www.odegardinc.comwww.rugmark.org

Dr. Pramod Parajuli, a Nepalese -American professor was there to be honored with an award and to show a slide show entitled "Leapfrogging to a Sustainable and Creating and Abundant Nepal".
Dr. Pramod Parajuli. Photos: eEyeCam

The director of Sustainable Education Program at Prescott College in Arizona, Dr. Parajuli's life has been defined by compassion and concern for others and a commitment to ecological and social engagement and his pioneering work in permaculture in Chitwan, Nepal. Through the Food and Garden based Ecological Education Design (FEED) and the Learning Gardens project, Dr. Parajuli has been a pioneer of cultivating a deeper social and ecological engagement. Visit his site: www.prescott.edu
Dr. Jody Olsen. Photos: eEyeCam

Also honored with an award was Dr. Jody Olsen, the Acting Director of the US Peace Corps citing  her commitment to improving society.  Lawrence Leamer, the New York Times best-selling author of "Kennedy Women," "Sons of Camelot," and "Love and Death in Palm Beach" made the presentation to Dr. Olsen. Visit her site: www.peacecorps.gov
Lawrence Leamer, author
Singer Falu. Photos: eEyeCam

The audience was enthralled by the music of the sensational Mumbai born artist, Falu (aka Falguni Shah) who performed three Indian classical songs accompanied by her husband Gaurav Shah ((vocals / harmonium) and Rajesh Bhandari playing Tabla.

Read more about her at: http://www.falumusic.com

-Pradeep Thapa Magar in New York. Comments? 917-570-1098 Or, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Rajeev and Priyanka

Shella Chellered on the way to recieve the award.  Photos: eEyeCam
Priyanka and Rajeev
Singer Falu
Rajeev with America Nepal Friendship Association President Muna Belbase and her husband.


Detailed event information by Priyanka and Rajeev

Preamble

Thousands of villages in Nepal today are faced with the same extraordinary environmental crisis spurred on by globalization. Nepal's mountainous geography and lack of infrastructure delayed the impact of globalization but now that is all changing at an accelerated pace as roads, communications technology, and western influence flatten the country. The rural farmer from a remote village is now riding on the same bus as a wealthy banker from a nearby city. The result of this squeezing together has been a moving away from traditional, primitive ways of life which are associated with backwardness and poverty. Cement homes, which in many ways are inferior to traditional buildings, are proliferating everywhere and deforestation and a loss of the connection to land is becoming more common. In many ways, Nepal's development has become infrastructure-obsessed. Developing the human connection to land and spirituality are not viewed as development at all. The education system is divorced from the natural environment and art and environmental studies are given little importance.

Bhedetar Village Development Committee (VDC), located in Dhankuta district in the eastern hills of Nepal at an altitude of 1,500 meters, is also confronting this environmental crisis. Cement construction, proliferation of cell phones, and digging of roads has resulted in an erosion of the symbiotic relationship to land that these indigenous cultures represent.

Project Info:



As a response to this burgenoning problem, in January 2009, a Greening Villages Movement was initiated to empower the 4,500 people in the 16 villages of Bhedetar VDC to develop a proactive and environmentally focused response to these forces. The project aims to focus on building awareness about conservation of the existing rich ecology, to support and strengthen the farming community with introduction of low-tech sustainable agricultural practices and furthermore to instill hands-on outdoor learning into the school systems. With the help of local and international NGOs, the project will be implemented in three different levels;

- Thumki Agriculture Plot – To create an agriculture demonstration plot, arboretum, and community play in nature area to promote the connection to land, sustainable farming, permaculture concepts, and modern vernacular construction techniques.

- Greening Schools Initiative- To integrate agricultural and environmental awareness into the education system by promoting hands-on field based education, school gardens, art and nature interactions, and food creation.

- Farming Community intervention- To create a moral and financial support structure to make local farmers knowledgeable with new agricultural methods and technologies.

For detail log on:
www.HelpFor.Org or
http://www.facebook.com/ext/share.php?sid=95935301200&h=sPfud&u=iFfvO

Contact:

Priyanka Bista This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Rajeev Goyal This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 516-984-7138

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