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The Words of 3 Inspiring Young People from Nepal

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On International Women’s Day we hosted a poetry competition for the youth of Bhalu Khola and Dhading on the theme of women’s rights. We had over 50 amazing entries from both boys and girls, and our in-country volunteer Amulya judged and selected three winning poems. Until recently I hadn’t read the three winning entries as they were obviously written in Nepali, but my co-Team Leader Asha kindly translated them into English so that the British contingency of our team could understand them too. Translating poetry between two languages is an impossible task due to rhythm, rhyme and syllables, however I think Asha’s done an incredible job, and I even shed a few tears when first hearing them read out in English – they hit me that hard. Perhaps because I met the winners at the prize-giving, because I know their backgrounds, how young they are, how optimistic for change they are, and how hard it must have been for the 15-year-old boy in particular to break with the gender stereotype and write such a stunning poem.

The photo above is of Rabina, a 19-year-old girl from the marginalised Dalit community, whose poem is the last of this trio presented here. She certainly has the ambition and determination to ensure a seriously bright future ahead of her and she’s a force to be reckoned with. I hope that through our Livelihoods project here in Bhalu Khola we can empower and boost her potential, and that of other girls and young people like her. And with that, I present the three winning entries of our poetry competition on International Women’s Day:

Do you know who you are? – Shanta Thapa (18-year-old girl)

I say, you are the earth,
statue of patience and
mother of the gods Krishna, Ram and Buddha
that’s why I’m asking you women,
Do you know who you are?
I say, you are the sea of creation,
hiding pain and tears underneath,
you can give beautiful life and smiles to others.
You are a cool breeze of summer
that’s why I’m asking you women,
Do you know who you are?
I say, you are the rose blossoming between thorns
and the pleasant aroma of every flower.
You are the Laxmi, Saraswati and Parwati,
who can be the volcanic Durga if needed.
You are the replica of the static earth,
that’s why I’m asking you women,
Do you know who you are?
I say, mother and friend you can be both sister or beloved,
you are in every role.
Enjoying the greenery of creation
you can change tears into smiles,
you are the singing bird of the jungle
that’s why I’m asking you women,
Do you know who you are?

Laxmi is the goddess of wealth, Saraswati is the goddess of knowledge and wisdom, Parwati is the wife of Lord Shiva, and Durga is the powerful warrior goddess of bravery.

Agony of a Woman – Udhave Adhikari (15-year-old boy)

106th International Women’s Day
let’s celebrate everyone today
and light the lamp of women’s empowerment
in family and society.
Too much pain,
our mothers have suffered
even hearing stories of old
now my heart cries.
Before reaching the age of 10
she was forced to marry
because of underage pregnancy
she and her child lost their lives.
Even while collecting wood and grass
she has to carry her baby too
she has to feed her hunger with water
when there is no food to eat.
Daughters are killed
before they are born
remember that daughters are no less valuable than sons.
Step ahead woman
it’s your time
if not now
then it’s never.
After the earthquake
girl trafficking has increased
beware girls
you may suffer later.
Domestic and physical violence
our mothers have had to face
doctor, engineer and president
the women of today have to become.
Give education to a woman
so she can step ahead
some have become pilots
others have climbed Everest.
Udhave is my name
Aambhanjyang is my address
saying this I sign off from here
Namaste to all!
If a son is born he will be a husband one day!
Don’t cry when a daughter is born
remember a house without a woman
is not a house at all.

 

Journey from the Stone Age to Modern Times – Rabina Bisharokarma (19-year-old girl)

Stone Age to today
now we are in modern times
the Sati system is abolished
yet domestic violence is still in practice.
Pouring kerosene over their whole body
girls are burned to death
with pain in their hearts
yet women are looking after men’s houses.
The Sati system and the slavery system
we faced it all in the Stone Age
yet why is hateful behaviour still here
when will we abolish all form of discrimination?
Don’t lose your confidence
women we should be together
to empower women
lets unite together for our rights.
The drunken husband beats his wife,
many women have been lost to gambling
give us the development work
women can manage and are honest
lets reduce our dependency on men.
Enough is enough.
We’ve remained silent for so long
suffered discrimination for so long
lets raise our voice and
make the 106th International Women’s Day a success.

 

Sati was the practice in the Middle Ages in Nepal where a widow was burned alive on the funeral pyre of her deceased husband.

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