aura-sm-square-author By William Aura

Tintale Village & Limpatar Village, Nepal | Human rights of women are denied in Nepal due to problems like caste discrimination, political instability, poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, and trafficking to neighboring Gulf countries and India. Initiated in 2009 the brave women of the Mother’s Society present music, dance and drama performances to bring women’s rights awareness to the people and teach the dangers of trafficking. Working side-by-side over the years has been the most gratifying experiences one can imagine. Simply put, this program does what it intends to do. And together, we can do even more.

Mother's Society actors Amrita Khatri and Manjari Giri.

Upon arrival to the village we visit the new beautiful bamboo school building and pleased to discover members of the Mother’s Society rehearsing for the upcoming Hill Tribe initiative - coming up in 3 days in Limpatar Village. Scene after scene unfolds late into the evening. Right away we can see that the impact of their messaging has improved dramatically. The fire has never burned brighter within the members of the Mother’s Society.

Five years in the making, a brand new Shiva Temple has been inaugurated in Tintale and it’s located right next to the home of PFCF administrator Shyam Basnet. The villagers gather every morning offering their prayers for their family, the community and the world. We join them during the beloved holiday known as Holi (aka the Hindu festival of colors - celebrated every spring) where color is splashed all over one’s face. Uninhibited dancing, loud music, and tasty traditional food is what’s happening for three days.

At the crack of dawn. Experienced drivers and two jeeps arrive in the village. (I have the habit of asking if the drivers are married. Navigating the sheared roads are super tricky, and I guess I’m double checking they’re family men and want to come home like we do.) The vehicles are overstuffed with people, gear and supplies and we head out from Tintale passing by windswept rice paddies on the way to the mountain region. The Hill Tribe village of Limpatar is approximately four hours away - straight up - most of it in unrelenting dust. No A/C. The stomach-churning jeep trek up the Himalaya foothills is not for the faint of heart. The roads are in poor condition. The cliffs are known to be unforgiving.

Upon arrival, we’re greeted by a number of VIPs representing the village and slowly the people gather as the Mother’s Society team sets up for the day’s performance. The scenario reminded me of what it was like in Tintale Village about 12 years ago. When I approach locals with my camera - they run away. Some frantically. A number were unfamiliar with a foreigner in their midst. Fortunately, Kishan and Tuhin were able to engage the children utilizing their new PFC iRack Camera Kit (and their charming looks). The PA system, tables, chairs and all the gear is pulled off the tops of the jeeps and the performance area is set. Local VIPs gather and take their place. Political statements proclaimed introductions are made and the program begins.

Music and song starts every program of course and it’s the power of music that magnetically attracts the villagers. An air of excitement is brewing in this quaint hilltop humble village. A number of catchy new original songs relating to women’s issues are performed by the troupe – with lyrics and melody written by music teacher Ganesh. He and Mother’s Society spokeswoman Parvati Dahal share master of ceremonies duties - introducing the performers and offering a deeper explanation into the various scenes and their message.

There’s laughter, there’s sorrow, there’s bonding, but most importantly there is total engagement by the community. We all agree there is something very special going on here. At this point, the transmission of knowledge to the audience is really quite powerful. I could not be more proud of each member of the Mother’s society and the ever-growing supporting crew.

Shyam estimates we are reaching around 400 girls and women with this messaging. Numerous women’s issues and challenges are raised besides the issues of trafficking. Early childbirth. Early marriage. Violence against women. This program helps bring a message of hope and determination to deserving people who have yet to receive this knowledge. Through the power of music, song, dance and drama all caste and creed come together.

As the performances finished the sun began to set. A big family feeling swept over us. Within the span of four hours, the Mothers delivered a life-saving message that informed, inspired and empowered. Group photos, hugs and bittersweet goodbyes take place. Promises are made to return again someday. “Don’t forget us,” was heard a few times.

My reaction to all of this is profound. What a blessing to participate in such a worthy cause. I’m certain that every person on our team has been strengthened and encouraged by the response and openness of the people. They are eager to learn more and together when we support Nepali helping Nepali - that’s a beautiful thing. Our hope is this program will expand even further into rarely visited regions.

We all agreed earlier that the goal was to come drive down the sketchy mountain roads while there was still daylight. It’s just too downright unnerving in the dark. It’s probably just me, as everyone else was pretty chill. At night there’s no light except headlights and as I’ve said before the cliffs are severe. We load up our supplies, say our goodbyes and begin to head down the mountain. We don’t get far. One jeep has a flat tire. The other jeep will have to run down - get the tire repaired, bring it back up and mount it. No AAA here. Everything goes as planned but time passes quickly and a chill dark night befalls us. By then the team is sandwiched in our vehicles bouncing and banging downhill, staring silently at the dancing headlights stretching out to pitch black. We arrive safely in Tintale after midnight completely spent. Job well done.