Meet the Young Trailblazers of Madhesh

7 June 2023 - kathmandu

Samanata Thapa

As we establish new meaningful connections in Madhesh through The Asia Foundation for Local Impact Makers and Civic Actors through the generous support of USAID– Civil Society and Media Program. We are excited to share these connections with our Impact Hub Kathmandu network with hopes of recognizing these young civic leaders, and their valuable work and leading them their way for collaborations and opportunities to scale, advance and promote their art of labour.

Teachable Moments with Gajendra Mandal and Ganesh Sah, Dhanusadham

A wise old man says, “The snakes come to our homes to eat rats” in Maithili and Ganesh Sah, a 23-year-old professional photographer, snake rescuer and wildlife conservationist from Dhanusadham applauds in affirmation. He had just asked an intergenerational crowd in Pipara Chowk the reasons behind snakes in the villages, especially in the Terai region during scorching summers. Eager to enlighten his audience, Ganesh further explains the intricate conflict between humans and wildlife, precautions after a snake bite and the importance to rescue snakes instead of resorting to a frantic reaction that can prove fatal. through a chart with pictures of venomous and non-venomous snakes in Nepal.

His colleague Rajendra Kumar Mandal is Accompanying Ganesh, 23 affectionately known as Gajendra to his circle and family. Both work at the Mithila Wildlife Trust in Janakpur which advocates for wildlife conservation. Rajendra also known as Gajendra is an active social environmental campaigner with a history of active participation in the Ganga Sagar cleaning program, Green Janakpur plantation program, Dhanush temple cleaning program, and Pasuram Talau cleaning program.

The dynamic duo are no ordinary conservationists. Through Mithila Wildlife Trust, they work with the historically and systematically marginalised Musahar community, and other forest-dependent communities in the Southern belt of Nepal to foster a harmonious synergy between humans and nature.

Shahida’s Bold Steps to Put an End to Child Marriage, Janakpur

Shahida Khatun, 28 from Janakpur is a supervisor at Life Nepal and has been at the forefront of stopping child marriage in her community and providing young women and girls with alternative opportunities to shape their destinies. One may find her fearlessly interrupting an illegal wedding, even when her presence is uninvited. With her unwavering courage, she puts a halt to such a union that has deeply entrenched the social norms. On other days, she guides young girls and their mothers. Shahida reckons communication barriers between adolescent children and their parents as a challenge to putting an end to child marriage. Through active intervention in the communities, Shahida and her team have established girls’ and boys’ clubs to provide a safe space for discussion. Through carefully curated platforms with parents to alleviate child marriage. However, Shahida’s mission is not without risks. As a young woman standing against deeply ingrained practices and societal sentiments because of the cultural and economic significance of child marriage, her work is even more challenging and dangerous. Despite these challenges, Shahida remains undeterred with hopes to inspire many to join her advocacy.

Diligently Ensuring Land Ownership Certificates to Musahar Families, Saptari

Mamta Kumari Sada, 23 from Saptari works in Khadak Municipality, Ward-12 office and has taken it upon herself to champion the cause of her systematically marginalized community, the Musahar community, to have access to land rights. For far too long, Musahar families have been unjustly deprived of their ancestral land ownership due to a lack of citizenship certificates. The absence of land ownership certificates and citizenships has deprived the community of fundamental rights and services provided by the state.  Determined to change the stateless reality, Mamta is the face of a diligent civil servant, tirelessly supporting the Musahar community to collect and submit their documents and ensure that it reaches the relevant authorities, advocating passionately for favourable decisions.

Advocating for Dalit Child Rights in Madhesh, Sarlahi

Ritik Raj Rishi, 22 is a young Human Rights and Dalit Rights activist from Sarlahi. He was 17 years old when he was introduced to the world of social work after he appeared for his SEE. Caste-based struggles in the Musahar community were not new to Ritik. Still, his sense of agency was strengthened through his involvement in the SAMATA Foundation which advocates for social justice and inclusivity of the systematically disadvantaged communities in Nepal. Ritik also served as Outreach Officer at Our Sansar- a child protection centre in Janakpur, Today, he is actively advocating for the rights of children belonging to Dalit communities to ensure their access to education and opportunities through BHORE, a Human Rights organization that advocates for the fundamental rights of the Dalit community.

Do any of our leaders strike a chord with what you do that can help them advance and scale their work? Or maybe you have opportunities for them to champion their cause through collaborations, media coverage and capacity building?

Reach out to us to establish connections that matter!