3 May: Pokhara, Nepal

3 May

I decided to sleep in in the morning. The others went to have a meeting. I had some food around 11am. I was told we were going to have a radio interview at a community radio station. Peter and Pat had lunch and then we went to find a taxi to meet with Krishna. Poor Krishna couldn’t read the card very well. However, we managed to find the place with his help.

We walked upstairs to quite a flash community radio station for children. So children are trained in producing programs. This can be done at the studio or via the school. The children choose their own topics and it is broadcast around Kathmandu but I got the impression they will boost the signal to places further afield. Somewhat networking with other stations. They also do live-streaming online so people can pick up the shows online. Ravi from the Pokhara Rotary Club was involved but said they don’t influence content. There is no political commentary typically the children talk about educational issues. I was interested to know if they spoke of other interests. Interestingly, the station doesn’t play music. I found that interesting and wondered if it was due to the influence of music on children. So they are conducting interviews.

Radio, we were told, is popular in Nepal so it is likely to be listened to. They knew there were listeners as they got occasional feedback.

They showed as a guest book where Prime Ministers had written comments, US politicians, UNICEF and others endorsing the station and the idea of a voice for children.  I am a strong supporter of this, but a real voice as the future requires change so that children have a world worth living in.

The rooms were in better condition than Australian community radio station, they had neat sound proofing and uni-relational microphone (360 degree pick up) in one room for panel discussions. The other studio had bi-directional microphones and it seems they operated programs by computer. The set up seemed sophisticated.

I was interested in the sponsorship of the station, there was corporate backing. My interest would be zero corporate influence or profiteering. All community radio in Australia gains funds through sponsorship of advertising and the Board of Management are community people. They have to be voted in by the membership. Other funds come from government programs like ‘work for the dole’, multicultural grants from Government. However, media in Australia is moving from analogue to digital and the government are not helping community radio to make the changes, this could spell the end of a community voice in terrestrial media. This of course doesn’t stop online media which is good, so in truth community will find another way to express their ideas. What I loved when I was on radio was the great diversity of people at the station. I had never worked with people from teenagers to the elderly. The groups were based on music genre, ethnic and cultural programs, religion and so on. So you experienced your community in a station. All were volunteers.  So to keep the community voice untainted it is a good idea to have a wide range of funding sources, so there is no undue influence. The programs have to be checked to make sure they are neither propaganda nor inflaming hatred in the community. It is a great way for people to learn how to work together. I had a lot of fun doing it and am thinking about it again when I return.

So the trip to the station was interesting. I wondered about young people typically being the ones that rebel and if any programs challenged adults. I do think it is important for children to have a voice. Children see life in different ways and there is wisdom and fun with kids, they can be great teachers for adults.

I recall a special session at the United Nations where hundreds of children had an opportunity to talk to the adults. They were concerned about the violence, poverty, inequality, environmental destruction and the abuse of children. I recall David Suzuki’s daughter Severne giving a speech and it was powerful http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZsDliXzyAY . She received a standing ovation, but the real test for me was whether the adults will act on what they hear or just use that forum ‘to be seen to be listening’. There does have to be real change, children are the ones that will have to work out what our generation (and previous) have done and find ways to learn how to work together. They have to deal with the corruption of their parents, the abuse, the wars and conflicts that are still unresolved. They will have to deal with a United Nations which is not one vote one value, but has tiers of power elite, where diplomacy rather than problem solving dominates; where countries form blocs and special interests wheeling and dealing. Until the children can come into an understanding that what has been done before cannot work in the future, we are heading down a path that is not a win/win. It is important that children work out that it is time to work together, when both win, all win. That competition is not creating that edge but dividing people. Until they can see others as themselves, they will continue on a divided path. My feeling is they will work it out. Nature of course will facilitate the desire. The children will do more than us. They are honest and they are enthusiastic, I can entrust the future into their hands. So yes, give them a voice and at least get the conversation started.

After the station we went and had some drinks, Krishna had lunch. He then headed off and we did a little shopping. Pat bought a lovely green, blue and purple dress. She looks lovely in it. I love the clothes here.

I ended up buying a lovely black, green, yellow dress. It cost 2,500 rupees ($25 a bit expensive comparatively) and a little tight but I will work on keeping the weight off, it was too beautiful to ignore.

When we went for dinner we walked past my Kashmiri friend Selman’s shop. He loved what I was wearing and I thought he was going to whip me off somewhere. Fortunately my father, Peter came to the rescue calling me his daughter. I thought of how many camels am I worth? I smiled to myself. To think in some parts of the world woman are traded. There rights are less than men and can be seen as chattels, certainly in Nepal women are seen as less. As a Western woman I find that amazing. Yet in this crazy world we have to learn that when you diminish one you diminish the other. If men take away women’s rights children may grow up in poverty or witnessing their mother’s abused, it is a societal issue where no-one wins. Equality of opportunity and an equal voice is essential. So women on radio might be another idea.  Are they ready for that?

Selman the co-worker and brother-in-law of the owner of the Kashmiri shop indicated he could get me Nepali prices confirming that 2,500 rupees for the dress was too much. I knew that but I am white and can’t argue the toss. He offered to take me out the next day to help me. I was a little worried given how much he liked me, but I knew he was a good guy. So I agreed to catch up with him around 1pm.

We all went to an organic shop for dinner and I had vegetables to feed this cold. It was a pleasant night, we headed off and to sleep.

Well another lovely day here. I am enjoying my time here.

Mohandas Gandhi

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

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