By Robin Giri
Kathmandu, Nepal, 14 April 2014 – Ani Choying Drolma, who is more famously known as the “singing nun” from this Himalayan country, was recently launched as UNICEF’s National Ambassador in Nepal.
In a colourful and poignantly powerful ceremony, at the Presidential Palace in Kathmandu, with a children’s choir backing the nun’s soulful hymns, the President of Nepal, Dr. Ram Baran Yadav congratulated Ms. Drolma and UNICEF Nepal.
“I know UNICEF has been working to improve the lives of children and women in Nepal for almost five decades – and I believe you are the right person for the right job,” said the President in his keynote address to the assembly.
Diplomats from different countries, high ranking government ministers and officials, notable members from the private sector and civil society, and the heads of other UN agencies attended the event at the packed hall of the Presidential Palace.
Also unveiled at the ceremony was an original song specifically composed for UNICEF Nepal, and written by one of Nepal’s noted lyricists, titled “Come, let’s shout out for our children”, and a moving pictorial to accompany the song.
Ms. Hanaa Singer, Country Representative for UNICEF Nepal and Ani Choying Drolma, then signed the letter of designation which is valid for two years, and made Ms. Drolma the official face of UNICEF in Nepal.
After accepting the letter from UNICEF, Ms. Drolma was congratulated in turn by UNICEF’s Regional Director for South Asia Ms. Karin Hulshof and then the President of Nepal, who also gave Ms. Drolma the UNICEF badge.
In a show of humility, Ms. Drolma then went into the audience to receive blessings from her own mentor and teacher, His Eminence Rinpoche Chokyi Nima, a revered Buddhist monk in Nepal.
“With UNICEF’s help, my voice will now be amplified a 1000 times and I have now gained 1000 extra hands to help me in my quest to bring peace and love, particularly for the children of my country,” said Ms. Drolma in her acceptance speech.
Ms. Drolma talked about her childhood, and how like thousands of other children, she was beaten and had to take on many tasks and household chores way beyond the capacity of a young girl. It was only when she was 13, and under the loving tutelage of her mentor in the monastery that she realised that she was “still a child.”
“I wished someone would have plucked me out of that situation and embraced me then. It is in the past year, as my understanding of UNICEF grew, I realised that UNICEF is the protective angel that I always longed for!” said Ms. Drolma.
The singing nun first teamed up with UNICEF Nepal last year when she appeared in a public service announcement unveiled to launch the “End Violence Against Children” campaign. That partnership was strengthened over the year as she toured the country with UNICEF and revealed her personal commitment to helping children, it became clear that the relationship should be expanded and solidified.
“Violence against children and adolescents is all too often unseen and unheard and underreported. There is a sinister darkness in this land; a darkness that we can and must banish. Ani, please turn your shining fame into a shining flame to light up the darkness of the exploited children in Nepal,” said Ms. Hanaa Singer, Country Representative for UNICEF Nepal.
As UNICEF National Ambassador, Ani Choying Drolma will use her popularity, and her desire to raise awareness about violence against children in the country and galvanise support and action of decision makers, government officials, civil society to put in place mechanism to protect children.