Activists from South Asian countries are working on a campaign “Our House Our Rights” in Kathmandu, Nepal writes Abdur Rehman
“If you have your own house to live in and a neighbourhood school to send your children for education, then you are fortunate,” said Muhammad Monjurul Karim, a young and social activist from Bangladesh. He adds, “The people living in slums do not enjoy the basic amenities of life. There is an urgent need to raise their standard of living.”
Karim is a part of an ongoing campaign “Our House Our rights” in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. It is a campaign run by some social activists from different countries like Pakistan, Nepal, Myanmar and Bangladesh. The basic objective of the campaign is to ensure that the people living in slums get their own house to live in without any kind of discrimination.
The people living in slums face discrimination most of the time. “The people living outside the slums think that we, those who live in slums are criminals and involved in illegal activities,” said Himal Neupane, an activist from slum communities of Kathmandu, Nepal. He added that awareness is also part of this campaign, so that the mindset of the people who are living outside the slums, can be positively changed.
“We are lobbying state too for this issue to take it in consideration. There are lot of people not having their basic needs but these people not even have their own house to live,” said Reetu Dumi , a young social activist from Nepal. She mentioned that “According to the interim Constitution of Nepal, it is their constitutional right. But it is not applicable in practice due to the apathy of the Government.
The campaign started with a meeting from social activists and young journalists at Global Platform, Gyaneshwor. B J Thapa and Prabesh were the activists who felt that there is so much need for this issue to be discussed and to sensitize the people. “Until and unless we do not discuss issues, no one will take them into consideration. Once this issue is brought into discussion, then it will give fruitful results,” they stated.
“I think media plays a key role in framing issues and also bring them into front. We tried our level best to bring this issue into front through social, electronic and print media,” said Jinita Bishwakarma, a facilitator of the campaign . She adds, “If we do not talk about this issue, it will grow, the population of slums will grow and hence the number of people who are living without any kind of facilities will grow. It will be difficult for government then to manage and also the overcome their anger.”
“We are trying to involve other youth networks, NGO’s and INGO’s in this campaign so that people from each and every walk of life can get knowledge of this issue. They are socially equipped so they can help us in getting our message heard to the masses,” said Jue Jue, Mai Ni and Shunlei, activists from Myanmar.
They had visited slums and we were shocked to know that how a family of more than 10 members can live in such a small house made up of leaves and woods. Their life is so miserable and they need attention as soon as possible.
Answering a question about their will to live there, Rina Khatun from Bangladesh said, “They do not chose to live there willingly. They are forced to live there. Most of them are displaced individuals who came here because of insurgencies, disasters and some because of their economic condition and started living here.”
The basic thing which one can think about their children is giving them education. Maryam Akram says, “They cannot even think of education. There are no schools nearby. Children and women are suffering from different diseases because of not having sufficient health facilities.” Continuing her discussion she said “we are conducting workshops at different colleges and universities so people can be aware of their condition. We are inviting people from outside to visit slums so they cannot feel isolated and neglected. Even I came to know about this issue for the first time so I think it’s the time now to work on this issue”
As a part of the campaign they conducted roadside exhibitions and rallies so that the policy makers can also hear their voice. They celebrated Holi with the children and members of slum communities, which was very much appreciated by the people. They also involved some foreign tourists and volunteers to celebrate Holi in slums, so they can feel as a part of the society.”
‘Our House Our Rights’ campaign is underway in Kathmandu in full swing. The campaigners are sure that a day will come soon that there will be no slums throughout the world. They will also be considered as integral part of society and they will be living their lives without any kind of discrimination.