Singing to inspire earthquake-affected children

Aug 12, 2015

Artistes deliver lifesaving messages through music, comedy and entertainment 

By Naresh Newar

Gorkha, Nepal, 6 July 2015 – As she gets on stage in front of hundreds of school children in Gorkha Bazar, headquarters of Gorkha district, there is sudden silence as children wonder who she is. With her shaved head and maroon robe, she stands out among her fellow Nepali artistes.

Then she starts singing one of Nepal’s most popular song Phoolko Aakhama Phoolai Sansar (In the eyes of the flower, the world is flower). A wave of joy passes through the faces of the children as they immediately recognize her as Ani Choying Drolma, one of the country’s most celebrated artistes.

The children applaud, sing along and get on stage to join her.

Also known as Nepal’s singing nun, Ms. Drolma is an internationally known musical artiste and UNICEF’s first ever national ambassador in Nepal.

Singing to heal the children

In the midst of the disaster across the country, Ms. Drolma traveled to this district with a group of popular Nepali artistes with an aim to help reduce the trauma of the children, a majority of whom had lost their homes during the earthquake. As part of UNICEF’s Bhandai Sundai Gaun Gaun Ma (Saying Listening in Villages) programme, the artistes also reached out to the communities with life-saving messages on health, nutrition, sanitation, hygiene, child protection and many more through music, comedy and entertainment. Artistes have completed performances in 12 communities in four districts reaching around 8,000 people.

The road to Gorkha from Kathmandu is not easy, especially with the monsoon and resulting landslides. The roads are slippery and often blocked by falling rocks.

“Her presence makes such a huge difference, especially now when children need mass healing,” said Sitaram Tiwari, principal of Modern Secondary English Boarding School, where over 75 per cent of the students are from marginalized ethnic communities. “They are trying hard to cope with the loss of their homes and constant fear of aftershocks.”

Helping children through entertainment

“Through our effort, we want to reach as many children as possible to help them move on to a more positive life and UNICEF Nepal is playing an important role through this program,” said Ms. Drolma.

She also said that this road trip by Nepali performers is very significant in an effort to calm and help bring the children out of their trauma.

A positive impact

“Children laugh and sing with us and they see their teachers dancing, and it really feels good to see them laugh and enjoy for a change,” said Komal Oli, one of Nepal’s most popular folk music artistes.

Komal explained how her music and work of her fellow artistes made so much relevance especially on this trip. “Children need our help to move on to a better life and leave their tragedy behind,” said Komal, who had already traveled to other three heavily devastated districts Rasuwa, Nuwakot, Dhading.

The Bhandai Sundai team will travel to more districts to reach out to the children and sing songs and perform plays that are both educational and meaningful especially to their current situation.

“I feel so good watching the artistes perform and now I am more relieved,” said 11-year-old Ranjit Adhikari, who cannot walk due to a physical ailment since his birth.

“I want to thank UNICEF for bringing us these amazing artistes that we always dreamed of meeting,” said 14-year-old Sony Shahi, who hopes that there will be similar infotainment programmes in the future for children like her.

Sony had lost her house in the remote Chhoprak Village Development Committee and constantly worried about her future.

“Today, this program made me feel really good as I was able to sing and dance side by side with these great artistes,” she said.

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