Social Justice: Social (Media) Status Upgrades

I worry about the children in our world!

Human trafficking appears to be a well-established and lucrative business. Those trafficked to the Gulf come mostly from Africa and Asia–the Subcontinent and the Far East. Those that get sent and/or trafficked the most are the poorest, those at the bottom of the socio-economic standing.

Social status, and therefore poverty level, in countries I travelled to and lived in depended on a number of factors. While in Malawi it was skin-color and heritage (Africaan, Italian, Indian or black Malawian), in other countries, it stemmed from the class they were born into (e.g. the UK), the family they were born into (e.g. Azerbaijan), the people you were born into (e.g. Australia), the sect/religion they were born into etc. etc.

In Nepal, Dalits, the untouchables, those at the bottom, are also some of the poorest. They consist of the tailors, the cobblers, the blacksmiths, and the toilet/septic tank cleaners, among others. The caste system shackles hundreds of thousands of the population, violating some of most basic of human rights, and condemns them, from birth, into a life of suffering and misery.

That’s what prompted me to post, on the November 28 at 11:59 am, the following on my Facebook wall:

In the highly stratified societies of Nepal, the only way of moving up the social ladder is through education! (Marrying into a higher caste family does not move you, or your children, up the ladder as has happened to two boys attending our school in Thangpalkot (http://www.dorjegurung.com/blog/sponsorships/relief-for-brothers/))

And yet, I am told that a majority of Dalit children never even make it to school. Many communities with sizable Dalit population don’t even have schools. And those children that do make it, struggle to stay on and graduate (see link in the comment) ensuring and perpetuating theirs and their posterity’s low status in the community!

And the comment the above post refers to:

A news article in today’s issue of Himalayan Times about Dalit students quitting school for foreign employment. http://m.thehimalayantimes.com/fullNews.php…

And why wouldn’t they leave?! If you had been made to live in shame from the time you were able to walk and talk, wouldn’t you?! But of course…

There is no shame in ones birth in low social status. The shame is in the way others treat you and place obstacles in your way to living a fulfilling and dignified life. [This was posted on November 27 at 9:13 am.]

I followed that post up with the following comment underneath:

And it appears that, that shame is on display, the most, in the way other Nepalese treat little girls born a Dalit–considered to be the lowest of the low castes in the country. After them, that shame is on display, almost to the same degree, in the way other Nepalese treat those little girls’ mothers!

And I have decided that education…the Dalits’ education…is the key!

But when you think about it…

Circumstances of your birth (the class or caste or skin color or nationality or whatever you want to pick) is as random as the make of the first car you’ll see when you step out of your house and into the street…with some exceptions…which still doesn’t invalidate my assertion. [Posted on November 27 at 8:37 pm.]

Then two weeks later, on December 12 at 10:45 pm, I added this one:

The accident of circumstances and context of birth is NOT destiny and should NOT be treated as such. But in such societies where this is the case, there is an equalizer: education, and it’s coming! (This post was linked to the YouTube video below.)

And finally at 8:24 pm on Dec. 14, 2013, I posted this:

For a child born into circumstances and context that stacks everything against him/her, I believe, there’s nothing worse than the death of his/her dream.

And yet, that’s exactly what happens to millions of poor children around the world. In my travels and stays in many countries around the world, I regularly saw how, the circumstances of their poor birth robbed innocent children of their ability to even dream, or forced to abandon them before they reached their mid-teens. Where is the justice?!

Since returning to Nepal, for two important reasons I have been on a path to right those injustices…through education.

The first reason was part of another status post I made on September 17, and it read thus:

[...]

After almost 25 years of living, working and traveling in about 50 different countries spanning five continents around this incredible planet of ours, what’s become crystal clear to me is that the worth of a person, or a people, is not int he make or size of the car they drive; not in the size of the house they live in; not in their net worth; not in the class, caste or nationality they are randomly born into, or in the color of their skin they are born with, also randomly; not in the religion they are born into, again randomly, or have decided to follow; not how superior they feel or think they are to the rest of the human beings…

To me the worth of a person or people is in the way they treat (those that are, through no fault of their own, also randomly born) the weakest and the most vulnerable in their midst!

The second reason has to do with the fact that I suffered from the circumstances of my birth and my own childhood dreams almost died as a result. (The details of the discrimination I faced and the struggles stemming from the circumstances of my birth, however, will have to stay a subject of another post.) And I am not even a Dalit, someone BORN an untouchable!

Education will help them keep their dreams alive, and education ultimately will enable them to break their future generations out of that vicious, undeserving and unjust cycle of poverty and suffering.

Thangpalkot, the village COMMITTED serves, is the obvious place to start. I have discovered, not surprisingly, the village has a number of Dalit families. During my last visit, I talked to and visited the homes of a few of them. (The stories of their children’s struggles arising from discrimination and abuse of their rights will have to stay a subject of another post.) Two of those children already receive financial help for their education, thanks to a friend of mine.

In addition to that, to specifically help with the education of younger siblings and/or children of migrant workers that have died abroad, families left destitute, COMMITTED, with the help of a number of other organisations and people, is organising three fundraiser events in January. With the funds we collect, the children we decide to help will be a collective decision, but I will be pushing for assisting Dalit children, especially Dalit girls, the ones who suffer the most.

None of this will be easy. For one, NGO’s and INGO’s are widely believed to be as corrupt as the bureaucrats that run the country. I have discovered that I already have some detractors but I take heart as I also continue to win supporters.

For another, the changes we need to bring into our society are major changes. We needs to bring about changes in our perception, attitude, and–that absolutely crucial corresponding change–behavior. The middle and the upper class in Kathmandu and other cities in Nepal would probably like to believe that “we are all equal” while living in their own blissful world of comfort and make-believe egalitarian societies, enjoying rights that they take for granted.

But until such time, these children will continue to be trafficked and subjected to incredible abuse, exploitation and suffering when they become adults. I, however, believing in change, will continue on this path to help the downtrodden children of Nepal, regardless.

And if there are hundreds of thousand in and from Nepal that suffer thus, there must be millions around the world that also suffer the same fate!

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2 comments to Social Justice: Social (Media) Status Upgrades

  • Dorje thanks for sharing this. Any system that stops children from learning and growing and perpetuates poverty and slavery is evil. Thanks for working to keep their dreams alive.

    • Dorje

      Yes, I agree Mark. A system that condemns an individual to a life-time of suffering and misery for their circumstances of birth, with next to no opportunities to better their situation, has got to be changed! Thank you for all your support.

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