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S.A. Khan: Reflections on the Religious Youth Service in Nuwakot, Nepal

06 July, 2013

 By Shehreen Ataur Khan

The journey of this year’s Religious Youth Service project in Nepal started on June 1 when participants got on the bus heading from Kathmandu Valley to Nuwakot. Throughout the bus ride, the scenery of the surrounding places enchanted everyone because of its mountainous picturesque beauty. Although the bus journey went a little bumpy, the exhaustion went away once the participants arrived at the Shree Bhairam Secondary School, where the school principal along with the teachers and students greeted the participants with their traditional silk scarf, vermilion, and flowers. After this warm welcome the participants were taken to the lodging place, Friends Resort. The dinner was arranged at the premises of the Shree Bhairam Secondary School, where the participants got a chance to mingle with each other informally.

The first day started with introductions by the Project Director of the program. Mr. Piya Ratna Maharjan. In his speech the principal of the school told about the history of the school and the ways that this school is giving service to the local people. When their speech was over, the participants were asked to introduce themselves formally. The first session of this RYS program was led by Mr. Narendra Pande, who gave a presentation about the Baha’i community. In his presentation, Mr. Pande emphasized the service aspect of human life which has the potential to bring peace throughout the universe. He showed how different people or even structures such as the Taj Mahal can be of service to everyone in the world. The role of Muslim community and Islam in peacebuilding was discussed by Ms. Seema Khan. Her speech focused on different features of Islam. During her presentation Ms. Khan also discussed the situation of Muslims in Nepal and the Muslim community’s effort to be included in the mainstream of Nepali life. Another session was led by Dr. Laxman Shakya, who gave a presentation on ways to calm the mind and defuse anger.
Learning about mind-body unity was one the core features of this project. Mr. Richell Jalipa from UPF gave a animated lecture on this topic and talked about the ‘public’ and ‘private’ division through the metaphor of body and mind. Dr. Robert S. Kittel, the Education Director of UPF-Asia, described the essential impact of family values in the world, where everything tends to be commercial. The necessity of the family and its values were again emphasized when Prof. Shreeram Prasad Upadhyaya gave his presentation.
On the last day of the project, the participants were introduced to an instructor of the World Tongil Moo Doo Federation, Master John Mark Hinacay, who showed some techniques of self-defense. Despite the time constraints, Master Hinacay made sure that everyone learned how to make the moves that he demonstrated.
The main attraction of this project was the service and the reason why the participants came. The task was to paint all the buildings of Shree Bhairam Secondary School. Each person was handed a paintbrush or a roller and a small bucket full of white paint. Everyone started painting started with full enthusiasm despite the scorching sun; they were in a painting mood; no one really cared about getting white blots on their clothes.
The participants were taken to Nuwakot Palace, Devi Ghat temple, Trishuli Gumba, Trishuli Jame Mosque, Trishuli Nurani Madrasa, and the Trishuli Hydro Power Project.
During this project, UPF presented awards to the parents from three families in Nuwakot for their outstanding contribution to their children’s lives as well the community in celebration of the Global Day of Parents.
The closing ceremony was marked by a vibrant cultural program in which participants showcased their country's culture through singing and traditional dancing.
Throughout all these activities and sessions with the renowned resource persons, this project offered a platform for cooperation among the youths from Bangladesh, Nepal, and Russia, a platform for building a society with religious harmony and peace.