Inspiring citizen heroes

Yesterday, my publication celebrated the first anniversary of Republica and Nagarik national dailies with the Republica Nagarik Summit. The summit, experiences of (and interaction with) five selected citizen heroes (‘those who have worked for others selflessly’), was a new concept that many participants liked (and thanked us for).

For a few of us (the hobbyist bloggers employed in the news portals of the publication), it was the moment of first-hand experience of live blogging (‘the first live-blogging by a mainstream news portal’) and video webcast. I will write later on live blogging experience.

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Republica Photo
The citizen heroes of selfless service at the Republica Nagarik Summit. Photo by Republica.

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The first of five citizen heroes who shared their experiences and feelings was Khairun Nisha, a Muslim female social worker who has worked hard in the conservative communities to spread knowledge about family planning (among others) and fought for social justice to women.

She was straight, loud and frank telling about herself. She had annulled child marriages, fought against social injustice, told women of her community about contraceptives and fought through challenges. She is brave!

* * *

Then, it was Dr Govinda KC. The most touching statement he told was:

“By letting the newspaper print my works and by telling you all that here; I’m probably undervalued my works.”

Republica’s special supplement on the day ‘Selfless Service’ had stories of 15 citizen heroes (and I wondered why there were so many doctors). Listening to Dr KC, I could make out in remote parts of the country like ours, doctors are almost like gods and that they are most likely to turn into heroes (well, that meant a lot of sacrifice in monetary/luxury terms).

Dr KC travels to remote part of district (walks himself carrying his large bag with medicines) for a few reasons: 1. to train health workers there about treatments, 2. to provide treatment to people there, 3. to understand the socio-cultural aspects of those areas and 4. (He did not tell this one) to spend his salaries.

* * *

Mahabir Pun is not a new name. The receiver of the Ramon Magsaysay Award 2007 is the ‘wi-fi man’ (something he believed is only a part of his total story and added that the media is missing the original part and focusing only a small pie).

He is an educator and to cut down the difficulties he faced during his education, he did a few things for the schools in remote areas and the wi-fi came in handy (‘for communication from one village to another we used wi-fi’). He also used wi-fi for telemedicine (‘for the doctors are non-existent in remote part, and even the face of the doctor on the screen works wonders to those poor people’).

His story was simple: he did everything to provide education to the children of his village and a few other villages, everything else came in-between.

* * *

Dr Sanduk Ruit and Indira Sapkota were other speakers who were equally impressive on what they have to say. Dr Ruit very strongly criticized politics (and leaders) for doing nothing but politicizing institutions (which is bad, even Dr KC said the same). His strong words were welcomed by a clapping and prompting CA member Gagan Thapa to ask him ‘if democracy is supportive or obstructive to their works’.

Dr Ruit surely did not have the clever words that Thapa could have used to answer that in any way he wanted, but he made it clear that his experience with politics had been not as supportive as it should have been.

I felt bad that such an international figure that the Associated Press once praised as ‘God for sight to poor’ had gone through such times that he does not take the politics in the country as something good.

* * *

“I still work for 18 hours a day. Every night, I think on how to improve the condition.”

If it had come from anyone else, s/he could just be a hardworking but when Indira Sapkota, who is 72-years-old said this, the hall went stupefied.

Sapkota is an entrepreneur who believed in nothing else but commitment/labor and her biggest achievement is not what she produced (mostly, the clothes for infants), but the way she has worked through to train women in need and provide employment to them (thus contributing to woman empowerment).

* * *

CK Lal, noted columnist, at the end of the summit, pointed out Sankrit verses and Mahabhatra’s stories to tell us the qualified of the heroes (and ended with that the country needs, despite thousands of such citizen heroes, a political superhero for the overall betterment), I believed all those heroes had something that made them what they are:

It’s the hope. The selflessness/passion/commitment and confidence helped to realize a part of their hope.

* * *

And, there are thousands of such heroes in Nepal (and many, many more in the world), who help to make others lives better, knowingly/unknowingly, and many of them just don’t like to tell what they do (‘an underestimation of their selfless social works’).

Salute to all of them! You all make the place we live better!

[DISCLAIMER: This write-up is heavily influenced by the write-ups published in Republica’s Selfless Service supplement.]

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