Barbara Adams came to Nepal 43 years ago and is more Nepali than many of us. She remembers a time when Nepal was regarded as a peace-loving country and has watched as the conflict devoured the land she loves. "Nepalis are wonderful people who love people, I know that even the Maoists want peace. All Nepali citizens must do whatever they can to bring peace and that's just what I'm doing," she says.
As a naturalised Nepali of American origin and a newspaper columnist for Jana Astha, Barbara had many sleepless nights tossing and turning, thinking about more concrete ways to be a peace activist. She came up with the idea of the white ribbon campaign which aims to create awareness among the people and the government about the immediate need for peace. It also works as a lobbying device.
During the World Buddhist Summit 2004, Barbara went to Lumbini to distribute white ribbons to participants and when King Gyanendra arrived, a sea of white ribbons greeted him. It is not just a symbol of peace but also the colour of mourning in Nepal. It was one of the reasons why she chose white as the colour for the campaign: it promotes peace, remembers and respects everyone who died during the past nine years of violence.
Barbara's initiative has received many positive responses spanning from the CAN festival where people asked her if they could help by volunteering to villages near Hetauda where the people were more than willing to support and applauded her efforts. A self-funded project, Barbara encourages people to go out and wear white in memory of the people who are dying every day.
"It doesn't have to be specific, any white cloth will do to show your support for peace and solidarity," she says. She maintains that it would help if people didn't just wear it for a few days but wore it all the time. "It may not bring peace, but it will certainly prove that they don't want war."