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A neighbourhood boy and his forest classroom

While conducting an outdoor class one day, a boy staring in the class caught my attention. He was the same age as the rest of the students in the class but didn’t have a uniform on nor seemed to know anyone in the class. Seeing him of the same age of the rest of the students of the class, I asked him to join in with the rest of the students. He introduced himself as Pasang Sherpa, an 11 years old boy, living with his single mother who worked in one of the farms near the Sikti forest. Pasang walked in and started to attend our outdoor education classes on a daily basis. As we came to know more of him, we realized that he was not a proper resident of the village and had migrated from a village nearby. Due to this, he missed the school enrollment and was waiting until next year for new admission to join other students and study in a classroom again. 

Within a short period of time, Pasang displayed intelligence and great interest in the things taught in the class. What most stood out of him was his detailed knowledge of the Sikti trail landscape, an area he has travelled too often with his mother, who worked for villagers to make ends meet. As the trail was the classroom in our Outdoor Education, the boy never hesitated to give any known information about the landscape in the class. He quickly caught everyone’s attention and became good friends with the rest of the students as well. 

We recently discovered that his mother had married off to another village and he has been living with his relatives. The boy, despite the hassle going on in his life, is still attending all the outdoor classes with the same level of enthusiasm and passion for knowledge. He patiently awaits for the year to end, so that he can finally join his now classmates in their school to study what they are studying, wearing the same uniform and laughing at the same joke. For now, we hope he is content with the classroom he has found in our outdoor education class every week. 

As Pasang walks into the class every week, he might be unsure about it yet, but as I briefly gaze at him, I know, that he is walking towards a better future tomorrow.

Students like Pasang, who are keen to learn should be motivated towards knowledge, be it science discovered on the other side of the world, or the local landscape and the existing nature. After all, with proper guidance today, it is these enthusiastic kids who are inclined to be the future of conservation tomorrow. 

Beads Bazaar, Asan – Ganga Limbu

Beads Bazaar, Asan from Ganga Limbu on Vimeo.

I have just finished the workshop ‘Immersive stories innovative mediums’, which was held in collaboration with and Kathmandu Triennale. It was a great exposure for me to meet multi-talented artists such as Prasiit dai, Kishor dai, Diana, Alok Siddhi Tuladhar, teammate Sandhya Shrestha and other artists from various mediums.

For our project, our team decided to work in Potey Bazaar (beads market) in Indrachowk, Asan. Locals also called the area “Kashmiri bazaar”, probably referring to the Muslim heritage. It was really surprising to learn that the beads makers and sellers were all Muslim even though potey (beaded necklaces) are primarily seen as a symbol of Hinduism. The history of the area dates back to the Malla era when the Malla Kings had brought this community of artisans from India specifically to make the beaded necklaces. Similar to other parts of Nepal, I found that young people from the area had gone abroad. But even when they come back, they tended to work in the same trade making beaded jewelries after their ancestors.

Before doing this workshop, I had a very different understanding of Muslim community as being reserved, very religious and secretive. However, instead, I found young and old people who were welcoming and nice. Even during work time, they were interested in sharing their stories and experiences. They even fed me maybe 9-10 cups of tea throughout the interview process. Through them, I heard tales of royalties of Nepal and their interactions while making jewelries for the Ranas and Shahs.

Before coming here, I had also never thought about the actual process of making beaded necklaces or the people who were making them. During the documentation process, the artisans took time to illustrate the different steps. I realized that different people were involved in the different steps of making a necklace. Above you can see the final video that I produced showing the process of making beaded necklaces in the Bazaar.

During the workshop, we also visited different exhibitions where I found out about new mediums of expressions through photographs, performance art, videos, sound art, handmade crafts and sculptures. I also realized the importance of an instructor to guide the process of executing ideas into final pieces.

This was my first exhibit. And I am really grateful to have received this opportunity to be a part of it. It was also very interesting for me to observe how people were responding to it as well. Like myself, many confessed to never knowing the history about the area as well as the process of making potey.


We are expanding!

KTK-BELT is expanding its conservation team. We are looking to fill 6 very special positions immediately. Please have a look at the TOR and do apply if you have a suitable professional background in botany, ornithology, agricultural sciences, wetland ecology, conservation biology, agro-forestry, permaculture, and project leadership. (Nepalese nationals only. Early Deadline to apply: Friday, April 7. Duty Station is eastern Nepal with periodic travel to Kathmandu).