Amrita LamsalPresident, IHRICON
Nepal Press Institute gave me a new life
Every person borns time to time physically, intellectually and economically etc. For this we can take the example of Gautam Buddha’s life. Buddha was born as Siddhartha Gautam first and he was born again as Gautam Buddha after he meditated. Let history decides that whether Siddhartha could have been born as Gautam Buddha or not if he had not abandoned his palace Kapilvastu. The same role had played by Nepal Press Institute (NPI), a non-governmental training and research institute in my life which is as follows.
It is true to say my aspiration to write something had hidden somewhere inside me from my young days. To let this emotion out, we (me and my journalist colleague Manju Mishra)used to read and write articles and exchanged them with each other. Between that time, Nepal Free Student Union published my article on its journal first time in 2035 B.S., and I was blamed from that time.
At that time I was a housewife. Reading and writing was beyond my expectation, the society and environment were not conducive to me.
It was time in 2048 B.S. , my younger sister Babita Lamsal informed me that the NPI had been offering classes of journalism and asked me to join it. The reason behind her proposal was that the Press Institute would conduct classes only in the evening. It was big challenge for her to convince her family to join the class. So she had expectation that her family would give permission to join the classes if both us joined the classes together. In response, I asked her, “I could help you, but how could we return home at night after classe?” At that time, she was staying in Chabahil and me in Baneshwor. She replied, “I would buy a scooter and drop you after classes before I go home,” After that I became ready to be with her.
It was our fortune that the Press Institute opened classes into two shifts (morning and evening) and we attended morning shift, the problem, how to return home after classe was solved. However, it was not convenient for me to take morning shift classes as I was a permanent employee of the Nepal Rastra Bank. That means I had to return home after completing my duty hour when I left home to take morning shift classes. But my internal desire to work as a journalist had promoted me and I would not let that desire suppressed anyway. So I committed to complete the nine-month course of journalism at any cost.
Classes started from Nepali month of Falgun. One day I met Sharat Chandra Wasti, the editor of Punarjagaran Weekly in Press Institute. I requested him to give space for my article in his newspaper and he approved. It was on the Nepali month of Chaitra in 2048 B.S (one month after I attended classes.), I started writing article for the newspaper every week. Besides giving me opportunity to write article in his newspaper, Senior journalist Wasti taught me how to write independently with firm belief and without fear also.
I started writing during the courses. In year 2049 B.S. I got a chance to write a cover story about ‘condition of children’ published in the Asadh edition of Madhupark monthly magazine. Then after, the magazine started providing me space for my article regularly. I was proud to have got such opportunity to write for Madhupark. The Magazine Madhupark very popular and people had great respect with magazine.
During that time I requested to my boss to transfer me to ‘Bankers Club’ of the Nepal Rastra Bank, because I had the expectation that might would get an opportunity to write for a literary magazine ‘Mirmire’ published by the Bankers Club. Training on journalism given by the Press Institute had helped me a lot to write articles for the magazine. At that time, writing articles on women issue for newspapers or magazines could be counted in fingers and people noticed the women who would write the articles for newspapers or magazines. Moreover, the democracy was reestablished and the slogan for women development had been getting shape. Concerned parties or editors had realized that only women could raise women’s issues. It is therefore women writing articles for magazines or newspapers, were invited to attend programmes on women issues. That time only those who were assigned by Editor could have got an opportunity to attend programmes organized by big organizations such as ‘the United Nations’. Meanwhile, I was searching for a resource person which could tell me about women trafficking to support my article. I got the phone number of women activist Durga Ghimire. I phoned her and she asked me to meet her at Social Welfare Council of Nepal. The programme was being held on that day. Another chapter of my life started from that day. I was called as a women rights activist. I did not know to what degree I worked as a women rights activist, but I launched a campaign for the rights of women through journalism from that day. The Press Institute had helped me to get this success and I was introduced to a journalist also. Then I started my approach to media outlets , the news agency, Rastriya Samachar Samiti. My expresses increased because of my work but I was satisfied with my works. While doing such works, I was called a women rights activist and as most of my articles published in newspapers and magazines including Punarjagaran, Janamanch, Himalaya Times, Madhupark, Yugsambad and Dristhi were on women issues. In this way the Press Institute gave me a new life again for which I am proud and indebted to NPI.
Among the opportunities the Press Institute introduced me with the journalist Shova Gautam and become friend of her. My Teacher journalist Dhruba Hari Adhikari introduced me to Shova. From that time Shova and me started reporting news from remote districts together. We dared to go to remote villages for reporting at a time when the country was crippled by the Maoist insurgency. We did reporting in remote districts, Rolpa, Rukum, Jajarkot and Gorkha, which were an epidemic and stronghold centre of Maoist. It was hard time, we got misbehaves from polices and incidently we were caught by Maoist rebels. But we were not discourged, all the encouragement we got from Nepal Press Institute.
Besides this, we had tried our best to encourage women of parsadewad and Gaidabhetpur, Mahottari to cast their votes. While we were trying to push women movement forward, we were shedding lights on women’s issues through media. Here also, informal classes run by the Press Institute helped a lot. The Press Institute had been offering classes on pluralism and advocacy journalism through Declaration of Windhoek founded by UNESCO in Namibia in South Africa in 1991. Those classes had taught us that mainstream journalism is not a journalism, advocacy journalism has a great role in uplifting the lives of marginalized groups. In this way, the Press Institute encouraged and made me confident in bringing out public issues through media directly and indirectly.
We (Shova and me) strongly raised the issue of women’s right on ancestral property together, which was main agenda of women’s movement.
After that I came to a point that I had to end and stop my active life in Nepal. I preferred to live without name and fame. I was encouraged to start my writing again by many journalist friends and author Samrat Upadhyay (Upadhyay is my brother-in-law). That time I was sad and pessimistic that I saw no meaning in writing and reporting. Inspirations and suggestions from any persons had not been working either.
I hit another point of my life all of a sudden. It was during time at 9 pm at night in the Nepali month of Ashwin in 2066 B.S. I was going to bed; I was informed of the death of my nearest and dearest father. I was alone. Neither there was anyone alongside to wipe my tears nor console me. I lied down on my bed, cried throughout the night. Then I decided to write an article on same day, offering condolence to my late father. I had contacted with Gopal Budhathoki, the Editor of Sanghu Weekly, he was also encouraging me to write. I started writing articles for his news paper. My article published in his newspaper in the 13th day of my father death and I started writing again.
I was depressed, but got a new life once again with the help of the Press Institute. In fact, writing give me good satisfaction. I raised the issues of people facing injustice through my writing. And in some cases, people facing injustice used to get justice from my articles. Even now I use to get positive message when I write something. This writing has helped me to network with the world. I am able to bring out disparity against women to some extent through my writing.
In this way, I am called as a women right activist with the help of journalism training given by the Press Institute. I am indebted to the Press Institute throughout my life for what it gave me to become what I am now.
(Compiled by Padmasana Shakya)