Nepal Fest 2016

I got to know Daliya in the summer of '15.  Daliya was very worried about the situation in Nepal and wrote to me a lot asking what is happening in the country, so I answered her questions the best I could.  After some time, Daliya wrote me that they wanted to organize a festival to support Nepal in St. Petersburg, where she lives in Russia.  The idea of the festival belongs to Mary Bonstedt.  The situation in Nepal by that time became worse.  India had imposed an unofficial embargo on Nepal and blocked the Indo – Nepali border, so nothing could come into the country.
However, there was no possibility to organize the Festival in 2015 because the organizers couldn’t find a place with a reasonable rent.  In spring of this year, Daliya had contacted me again and this time Nepal Fest already had a big group of dedicated volunteers.  Daliya wrote to me that they have had discussions and choose our fund, Blossom project, as the fund-addressee to be responsible for all the money that will be raised during the festival.

Daliya Musumeyaku
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I arrived to St. Petersburg just one day before starting of the festival and the first people I met was Nika and Mary.  Mary Bonshtedt – the originator of the idea of the festival and one of the main organizers, and, at the time of our meeting, she had not slept for several nights. Preparations for the festival took much more time and effort than it was expected.

Mary Bonshtedt
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Nika, the director of the ethnic clothing store and accessories from Southeast Asia and coordinator of the market at Nepal Fest; it was she who ordered me to bring the products of Tibetan Handicrafts papers to the workshop, who are members of the Fair Trade Group Nepal.  Fair Trade is an organized social movement which ensures that businesses in third world countries, who are the members of the organization, do not use child labor and that they comply with human rights and medical standards according to the Fair Trade standards.  It also guarantees the workers get a fair salary.  Nepalese Fair Trade includes no more 30 organizations.  The products with the FT brand in Russia is still a rarity.

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The market of Nepal Fest was supported by more than 15 St. Petersburg shops, representing products from Nepal.  25% of the proceeds from the festival went to fund for the construction of a new schools in the affected areas in remote Himalayan regions.  The first night in St. Petersburg, Nika was kind enough to let me stay at her flat.

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For 2 days, September 3-4, in the four halls of the Art Center “Pechatnyi Dvor” there were exhibitions, lectures, workshops, children area and a playground.  Nepalese students prepared several performances and their presence in their traditional costumes were really majestic.  In the evenings, everybody gathered in the main hall for the big concert.

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It is a bit strange to do business in an underdeveloped country like Nepal, or directly related to Nepal, and not be involved with the charity projects.  Economically, this country of so-called "third world”, with an income per capita below acceptable standards, which contributes to a number of serious consequences related to the gross violations of human rights.  This is why in Nepal there are a huge number of NGOs and NPOs.  Every self-respecting Nepalese businessman has their own funds.  Each story of these funds is often difficult to understand because you need to carefully consider and analyze all the details.  To find a team without its "nuances" is almost impossible according to the overall situation in the country.  After some research on the various funds and initiative groups, I can say that I personally trust most of them. I already wrote about  some of them earlier in this blog.  Of those, whom I did not write about, I want to note Bring thoughts to action fund.  At the festival, I showed my new video reportage from the construction of the schools in Nepal, building with the new environmental friendly technology, and answered questions about the general situation in Nepal and my experience with the Fund and humanitarian aid.

the subtitles are avalible in English and Russian

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The second night in St. Petersburg I spent on Vasilevsky Island with my comrades of the Anarchist movement.  They are living in a large apartment as a commune and already for 3 years they were busy with developing a new university.  It is a social project based on the principles of horizontal management.  The project is very interesting alternative to the standard system of modern education in Russia.  The University is already operating and is recruiting for the new studying year.  In Nepal, of course, there still is a question of absents of an elementary education at the moment, where the need of a basic reading and writing skills could be more widely available to the children.  But, who knows how quickly this situation can change for the better if all of us can help develop it under right circumstances.

In total, for 2 days of the festival, we have collected 66 931 rubles, equal to about $ 1000. The money went to the service of http://d-fond.ru/lc/1870, from this service the bills of buying building materials will be paid.  We will continue to raise more funds online, so your participation is still needed as much as possible.  Construction of the new school will begin in January of 2017.  The exact place of the new school construction is still under discussion, all reports on fundraising and news about the construction will be published next year in Russian at the group in the festival, and in English on the Foundation page.

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Larissa Mattiessen,
fotos by the festival participants
English edition by Michael Bowen

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