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Stories In Focus; Nepal

Although much of the worlds population now lives in urban areas, the environment and the natural world is still as important as ever for the sustainability of life on earth for the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe.

Up to 80% of the deforestation of the Amazon is now being used for cattle ranching, (fao. org), much of the worlds grains and soy is used for animal agriculture. The increased demand for palm oil that is largely coming form Borneo and destroying the rainforests, depleting the natural habitats of the biodiversity in the region (WWF). Scientists predict that Phytoplankton accounts for 50-85% of the oxygen we breath, showing the importance of our oceans. Unfortunately, overfishing, ocean acidification and coral bleaching are main issues that are creating havoc in our oceans. 90 million tonnes of fish are caught each year ( showing the mass scale of consumption, leading to extinction of animals and depletion of ecosystems. Energy is a large part of the global impact of emissions, China plans to triple solar by 2020 and many countries are adapting, for example Costa Rica that is aiming to become the first carbon neutral country. Environmental Justice Foundation predicts that climate change will force up to 150 million to become climate refugees by 2050, showing the importance of acting now. (EJF) The main effects of climate change in Nepal consist of severe drought in winter, flooding and reliance of agriculture and water to survive. In 2010, NAPA (National Adaption Programme of Action) was created to focus on climate change initiatives working to promote adaption techniques with biodiversity and protecting vulnerable communities.

Stories of Change in Gorkha, Nepal

These interviews offer an insight into this great community based in the Himalayas.

Jasper Wilkins is an Olympus Ambassador and documentary photographer passionate about the environment and the natural world, sharing stories across the world of beauty and hope. Working as a team leader in Khadka Gaun, Gorkha, Nepal he spent time with an inspiring community with a team of volunteers to provide livelihood development and adaptation for the people.

Raleigh International is an organisation working to create impact through youth, working in countries such as Costa Rica, Tanzania and Nepal. Young people are the future leaders, engineers, artists and change makers of tomorrow and International Citizen Service offers an unique experience for 18-25 year olds to learn through cross cultural collaboration, working on important issues such as water sanitation, education and climate change.

In Focus was set up in 2016 as an organisation that promotes the importance of environmental sustainability through visual communicative mediums such as graphic design, illustration, photography and film. We are working on important issues such as the destruction of the Amazon Rainforest and the sea level rise in Tuvalu and have creators around the world ready to tell stories. We are looking to collaborate with companies, organisations and foundations to create content to inspire and help sustain our beautiful world.

Januka Paneru is a mother of three whom originally came from Dhading district and got married at the age of seventeen and has lived here ever since in a temporary shelter at the top of Khadka Gaun with her husband. She enjoys traveling to temples, having fun and spending time with her family. While talking to Januka her children were excited to play with us and enjoy dancing and singing. The earthquake in 2015 destroyed her family’s house and they are still living in a temporary shelter two years on. The Nepali army came to save crops and they were given a fund to build a temporary house and are still trying to continue their normal life. As many people did after the devastation, they had to adapt after the natural disaster that displaced thousands and Januka says: “I want to give a better education to my girls because they deserve a good life” explaining her main aim is to give her children a better future and she supports them through farming. Upon asking what the causes of climate change are to Januka, she quickly replied saying “population growth and pollution” “Especially these days I have noticed less rainfall and increased heat in the summer, because of that we are suffering from new diseases”

Bani Bahadur Khadka (83) is a humble and enthusiastic man whom grew up in the lap of Mount Manaslu. He spent much of his life following in the steps of his forefathers farming and appreciating the natural world. “I do not like the caste system which is rooted in Nepali culture as it creates divides” and he seems focused on progress. “I like farming, doku making and enjoys doing social work. “We have experienced more drought, less rain, more hurricane and increased heat in the summer season” but he does not know about the causes of the changing climate. He says that ‘the earthquake in 2015 left the whole country in disarray, me and my daughter in law were in the house when it started shaking tremendously, my wife’s photograph fell of the wall and hit the floor and we fled the house.” Additionally he says “It effected the normal life of people, many people lost their life and we have to live in difficult conditions”. Beni considers himself a hard worker and believes this is the secret to his success.

Dhan Bhadur Pariyar (53) lives with his family and is a passionate tailor who loves farming and the environment in Nepal and he choose to work as a tailor because he doesn’t have to work outside and he thinks it’s a good and easy job. When talking about the love for his community, he says that farming is his hobby and he loves the nature of Nepal. While screening the documentary ‘Before The Flood’, a documentary about climate change for our volunteers and community, he came to watch with limited understanding of what was said, but an eager interest to learn. “I notice less rainfall, new plants and more heat in the summer, because of industrialization the environment is changing these days” While discussing the earthquake, Dhan said, “It damaged my new house which was under construction. It was a great devastation in terms of physical structure although I did not lost any member of my family. He is currently living in the temporary shelter that was built after the earthquake. His mother went blind a few years ago and he has to take her to hospital to get treatment on a regular basis and wants to be able to support her. Money donated for Dhan and his family will go towards developing his tailoring business and treatment for his mother.

“People have to adopt anything either good or bad. But when there is problem there is solution.”

Dharma Kumari Khadka (90) lives with her husband Ganja Khadka, (whom was once paid the equivalent of 12 pennies a year to be in the army), she is active and enthusiastic about life, constantly walking around the village, helping her children with vegetable production and fetching water.

We asked Dharma what she loves most about her community, smiling she said, “I love the village because these days the tap is so near and we are able to produce vegetables. Electricity has also made life easier than before.” Dharma remembers the 1934 earthquake which also devastated peoples livelihoods across Nepal and discusses the 2015 earthquake. At the time she was living with her husband in Kathmandu and had to build a temporary shelter through funding from the government and aid was received from non-governmental organisations. She has noticed many differences throughout her long life, saying “Nowadays there is so much technical development and as a result there is no value for money, expensive lifestyle and less production.” Additionally suggesting that she has noticed less rain and increased heat, but not fully understanding the reasons for the changing climate. We asked her what she thinks about modern technology and she smiled saying, “I really like it and sometimes I am amused by it” I spent a lot of time with Dharma collecting potatoes, drinking tea and sharing experiences, we have a lot to learn from this simple lifestyle living alongside nature, something the globalised developed world often lacks.

Buddha Kumari Dhakal (53) is a positive and passionate woman whom lives in Khadka Gaun. She is always happy and sells coffee and bananas in a local market. At the age of 13 she got married and had six children by the age of 30. During our work in Khadka Gaun, she attended all of our trainings and events, through SSICDC and Raleigh International; she was one of our entrepreneurs that we helped develop her business growing coffee and bananas. Growing up in the lap of Mounta Manaslu in Gorkah, she appreciates the natural world and loves animals. “I have always been a great lover of nature and my country is rich in natural beauty, that is why I like to visit different areas”. The 2015 earthquake created widespread devastation and Buddha Dhakal’s house was partly destroyed and when asking how she coped with the earthquake, she said ‘that one year of my life wasn’t normal and I had to build a temporary shelter’ and was supported by international organisations and the Nepali Army, unfortunately the aid did not reach all of those impacted. She has been noticing changes in the environment noticing ‘more pollution, less rain, less production and more heat in the summer season” Those affected most by the changing climate, such as Buddha Dhakal are often people who contribute to emissions least with small carbon footprints. We must work together to support a global community to sustain this beautiful world that we inhabit.

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