Last night in Yangshila, we screened David Attenborough’s Planet Earth II on ‘Islands’ to a crowd of 350 villagers. Impossible footage that requires no translation. This latest edition of what had come to be known as ‘Containerko Cinema’ was hosted by the outdoor education class VII kids. Collective gasps could be heard when an iguana hatchling frantically fled a throng of hungry snakes & penguins waddled unknowingly into crashing oceans. We thank our special guests from the Netherlands, Florine & Wiebe, for their warm presence. Fantastic urban architecture by Priyanka Bista and the BELT builder team that’s really come into its own now shrouded in passion fruit vines, and lined with lemongrass, coconut and banana. There was a little planet earth of its own transpiring in our biodiversity pond which now has hundreds of frogs in it.
The evening was hosted by Sirjana Biswakarma and Alina Rai with a welcome speech by Richa Thapa. Additionally Neha Limbu, Roma Magar, Alina Rai, Smita Rai, and Krishna Magar proudly presented five outdoor education modules. They showed a film recorded and edited by Ganga Limbu.
Kudos to the students for doing everything (the glamorous and non glamorous tasks) from preparing for the seatings, to hosting, to cleaning up the trash, to distributing popcorns. Well done!
Next day, we followed the event with a module on outdoor ed hosted by Florine and Wieb where the kids learnt about various issues from the concept of living with water in Netherlands, to climate change impact, to searching, drawing and enacting different plants from the Sikti forest. Wieb additionally played music for the students and taught about musical concepts.
We are grateful to our guests, students and the community for their participation.
On behalf of KTK-BELT, Sabitra High School, Jansewa Basic School, and the people of Satisale village, we express our great appreciation to Florine and Wiebe for their visit.
Container Ko Cinema by Outdoor Students April 5th, 2019ktk-belt
The 3rd Saturday of February marks ‘World Pangolin Day’ each year. This is the 1st time it felt appropriate to ‘celebrate’, as the ward chairman declared that we had achieved ZERO pangolin poaching in Yangshila in 2018. Moreover, through the leadership of young people like Deepak Magar, the community signed a pact to create an 835-acre pangolin sanctuary surrounding our bio-intensive farm which we can expand all the way to Madhumalla through awareness programs & declaration of new sanctuaries. We would like to thank Louise Fletcher, who two years back gave our program a boost by doing art workshops with the local youth & farmers and connected us to a broader network of conservationists trying to save these mammals from extinction. Braving freezing rain & high winds, we screened short films like ‘Pangolin Men’ about the Tikki Hywood Trust’s work in Zimbabwe, and inspirational pieces about the power of nature narrated by Harrison Ford and Julia Roberts from Conservation International. As usual, the biggest hit was Jackie Chan’s ‘Kung Fu Pangolin’ which we had to rewind and replay several times. When it started to rain, one elder said it is the Pangolin speaking saying ‘I have been here for 65 million years. You don’t need to protect me.’ The night culminated with an inspirational film narrated by Jane Goodall about the irony of the genius of human beings being applied to their own destruction. Organic broccoli and BELT lemongrass tea was served from our Vertical Farm in compostable plates made of Shorea Robusta leaves. Finally, we thank Bora Studio and Meena Gurung for the ‘Pangolin Protector’ symbol of our movement to save the Indian and Chinese Pangolin.
Striving for Zero Extinction in the Chure February 22nd, 2019ktk-belt
Since early 2017, KTK-BELT and our incredible local partner, Sankhuwasabha Learning Grounds (SLG) have been leading the charge to create a 176,000-acre Community-Based Conservation Area in the Lumbasumba that will link Kanchenjunga Conservation Area and Makalu-Barun National Park, the 3rd and 5th tallest peaks in the world. This new habitat connectivity would allow nature & culture to thrive, giving new protection to the incredible national treasures of this region which include snow leopard, red pandas, hundreds of unique medicinal plants such as Bikhuma, Panchaule, and Kutki, and splendid birds like the Satyr Tragopan, Steppe Eagle, Silver-eared Mesia, and Wood Snipe– all threatened with extinction. The project is supported with a five-year grant from the Rainforest Trust, 2017-2022.
Until now, we have been working on the ground, building household level consent, assessing local views on the concept. Our team, which includes district coordinators, community mobilizers and youth fellows, spent a year doing the arduous work of carrying out household-to-household surveys, going door to door, to get complete consent for the idea. This incredible work by Wang Chhedar Bhote, Mohan Pandey, Kamala Rai, Tsering Dorje, and Gandema Bhote has paved the way for the local Rural Municipality chairpersons to endorse and now champion the concept, as we move to the province and national level.
The Lumbasumba, a region of notable floristic and faunal diversity, has been facing critical threats such as habitat modification and fragmentation, unsustainable use of natural resources, forest fires, infestations of invasive species, and loss of traditional knowledge and weakening of the cultural factors that buttress conservation. These trends underscore the need for the creation of this new conservation area.
This past December, we hosted our first province-level gathering in Taragaon Museum to build further consent for the concept. State Minister Honorable Ram Kumari Chaudhary was the chief guest. We were heartened to see so many female lawmakers stand up and speak in support of the Lumbasumba.
Also in attendance was special guest, Purna Prasad Rai, Member of the Provincial Assembly for State 1 who had the following to say: “The herders know EVERY detail about these landscapes, all of the habitats of wildlife, the behavioral ecology of the organisms there and their prey status. They also possess knowledge about the poachers’ routes. So, local farmers and herders must be at the core of the conservation of the Lumbasumba region.”
Our next step will be to hold a similar gathering in Biratnagar within State 1 in March 2019, before proceeding to the national level thereafter. Our approach from the beginning has been to move from the ground level up, so that all of the local stakeholders are helping shape this new conservation area, giving it lasting power.
KTK-BELT and SLG would like to thank ALL of the local government participants:
Chief Guest: Honourable State Minister Ram Kumari Chaudhary, Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development
Special Guest: Honourable Purna Prasad Rai, Member of Provincial Assembly, Province 1
Other Notable Guests: Provincial Assembly Members, Province 1 – Sarita Khadka and Umita Baraili; Secretary of House of Representatives-Gopal Nath Yogi; Deputy Secretary of the Ministry of Forest, Tourism and Industry, Province 1- Krishna Prasad Poudel; Co-Chairpersons of the Makalu Rural Municipality and Bhotkhola Rural Municipality- Chameli Rai and Panjam Bhote; Deputy Secretary of NGO Federation Nepal-Dinesh Chaudhary; President of the FECOFUN Sankhuwasabha- Badri Sapkota; President of the FECOFUN Taplejung – Krishna Ojha
‘Province 1 meeting to declare the new 176,000-acre Lumbasumba Conservation Area Convenes in Kathmandu’ February 10th, 2019ktk-belt
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.
A neighbourhood boy and his forest classroom January 8th, 2018ktk-belt
I have just finished the workshop ‘Immersive stories innovative mediums’, which was held in collaboration with photo.circle 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.
Beads Bazaar, Asan – Ganga Limbu April 4th, 2017ktk-belt
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). KTK-BELT HJP Vacancy