Nepali Times
Guest Column
Unseen heroes


There are two kinds of histories: one is written and the other is unwritten. Written history is found in books, unwritten history is found in the good deeds of people.

Throughout our country there are unseen heroes who don't get written about, don't compete for headlines, but work quietly to help their communities and the nation.

Ram Shrestha left the comforts of an affluent life in Europe and mobilised his community to set up a world-class hospital in Dhulikhel. Also in Dhulikhel, Suresh Raj Sharma used his experience in education to set up a university that is helping build the country's human resource base. Lili Thapa's husband was killed in the war, but she turned her grief into helping other women affected by the conflict by setting up the Single Mothers' Society. Sita Pokhrel in Biratnagar invested her husband's entire inheritance and pension to set up an orphanage.

Neighbours think Sebailal Tharu is slightly mad. Any barren plot of land he finds, Tharu plants trees. All his life, he has been walking half-naked in his bare feet, planting saplings which have now grown into tall trees all over his home district.

Mahabir Pun gave up an IT career in the US to come back, not just to Kathmandu, but to his home district of Myagdi to set up a world-acclaimed effort to bridge the digital divide in local schools with wireless internet for education. There are many Mahabirs in Nepal, contributing to society without much fuss.

Then there is Sanduk Ruit who has restored the gift of sight to tens of thousands of Nepalis with cataracts. Every day at his Tilganga eye centre there are miracles as people see again after decades of darkness. Ruit takes his mobile clinics to remote parts of Nepal, and even to Tibet, North Korea and Ethiopia. He has made Nepal a major production centre for corneal transplants. We in Nepal were slow to recognise and honour people like Pun and Ruit, who are both Ramon Magsaysay awardees for public service.

Ujalata Subba of Myaglung started an embroidery unit after her husband died and now employs 100 women. A student from Pulchok campus went back to his village in Lamjung and built a 3.5MW hydropower unit. Today, while the capital has six hours of power cuts every day, Lamjung's Besisahar and surrounding villages have 24-hour electricity.

Ashok Thakuri is a trained cheesemaker. Instead of staying on in France, he returned and has set up a goat cheese factory in Chitlang which has an exclusive clientele in Kathmandu. Thakuri buys goat milk from surrounding villages, which have set up the Chitlang Chandragiri Cheese Production Society, raising cash incomes of hundreds of families.

They are everywhere, these creative and independent Nepalis. You just have to look for them. They don't sit on their hands complaining that the government doesn't give them this or that, they are enterprising and implement projects that provide self-esteem and income to fellow Nepalis.

This country's future lies in the combined efforts of hundreds of thousands of Nepalis like these who combine appropriate, human-level technology and sheer hard work to achieve tangible results.

There is plenty to find fault with in Nepal, but if we just complained about them we would be stuck. This Dasain, let us recognise and reward the efforts of these unsung heroes all over Nepal.

Karna Shakya's latest book, Khoj, was launched on Monday.

Khoj (in Nepali)
Karna Shakya
Page 374
Price Rs 275

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)