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Deaf Children’s art workshop on peace

Alliance for Peace, Education and Development –Nepal (APED – Nepal) organized deaf children’s art workshop on peace on occasion of Day of Prayer and Action for Children (DPAC) on 2nd of December so as to draw attention to the situation of disabled children. The event was organized to give joint message of DPAC and rights of disabled children close to the International Disabled day on 3rd December.

Mr. Pankaj Mehta, Chief of Health and Nutrition of UNICEF was the chief guest of the programme. Similarly, Mr. Kiran Manandhar, honourable Chancellor of Nepal Fine Art Academy (NAFA) chaired the programme. Mr. Birendra Pokharel, President of National Federation of Disabled Nepal was present as distinguished guest. Mr. Rabin Kumar Koirala, Council Member of NAFA facilitated the art workshop session with deaf children. Mr. Narayan Bhakta Shrestha, principal of the Kendriya Bahira Uchha Ma.Vi (Central higher secondary school for deaf) was also present in the programme.  Ms. Shashikala Singh (UNICEF), Ms. Sharada Chitrakar, Council Member of NAFA was also present in the programme. Ms. Usha Neupane, teacher of the school translated the whole event in sign language for the deaf students present in the programme.

The programme was a true reflection of Day of Prayer and Action for Children, enabling deaf children to participate both in prayer and action for peace. The first session started with peace prayer recited by Dr. Jeevan Adhikari, professor of Nepal Sanskrit University. All distinguished guests, teachers and students stood up during the prayer. The meaning of the prayer was as follows

May there be peace in heaven, sky, earth and water

May there be peace in medicine, plants and supreme power

May there be peace in whole world and in our thoughts

May this peace, be at peace within itself

May this peace come to us forever

(Translated by Neeti Aryal Khanal)

After the prayer, Mr. Dadhiram Khanal, executive director of APED – Nepal, introduced DPAC and programme. He said that ‘this programme will be a message of peace and hope from deaf students of Nepal to whole world through their art’. He shared APED-Nepal’s plan to send the completed art work by deaf students to DPAC office in New York. After that Mr. Birendra Pokharel, President of NFDN, an umbrella organization of disabled people led organization said “this art workshop has played an important role in marking the Article 30 of United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which states the rights of persons with disabilities in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport.” Mr. Rabin Kumar Koirala, Facilitator of the art workshop encouraged the students to express their feeling through art. He said that anyone who has patience for regular practice, Sadhana, can be good artist. Mr. Narayan Bhakta Shrestha, principal of the school thanked APED-Nepal for organizing the programme, He also discussed poor financial situation of school and appealed for concerned organization to support the school. Mr. Pankaj Mehta expressed his happiness to be part of the programme with children with different ability. ‘I feel very happy that Alliance has undertaken this activity to take the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children day beyond just a Day. And by including differently in the activity, you have made the occasion more inclusive and true to the spirit of all in the activity, you have made the occasion more inclusive and true to the spirit of all dharmas being practiced’, he said. Mr. Kiran Manadhar, chair of the programme and Chancellor of Nepal Fine Art Academy expressed solidarity with children saying that’ no one is perfect, we are not different from you, you are not different from us, we are same’.  He encouraged children to continue their hard work and be successful. He expressed his best wishes to children for the art workshop and declared the end of first session. More than 60 students and 10 teachers, 5 overseas volunteers had participated in the first session.

Second session started at 11.45 am. APED-Nepal had arranged all the required materials with the guidance of Mr. Koirala, facilitator of the art workshop. To facilitate, we distributed few pictures and resources relating to peace and interfaith depicting symbols of different religion. However, we wanted children to be free from our preconceived notions. The main idea was to let children work freely to express their feelings and emotions through art. We simply asked them to draw how they would visualize ‘peace’. Mr. Koirala was an excellent facilitator who knew exactly when any student needed his help or guidance. Mr. Manandhar, Chancellor again returned back to the programme and was happy with the children’s progress. Children were inspired to see the celebrated Nepali artist coming to see their artwork. He also guided the children and was seen very happy to be with children. Mr. Pratigya Shakya, a famous deaf artist and alumni of the school also actively participated in the programme and helped the children when they needed help.

We were in the beginning concerned how children will work together in a 5 meter long canvas. Will they get along with each other; will they be happy to work together? We had lot of concerns and questions.  Their cooperation and help towards each other was remarkable. They were seen suggesting and guiding each other when needed. It made us feel that they showed not only portrayed peace in painting but in behavior as well. They gave message of solidarity and peace.

The painting was ready by 4 pm. Mr. Koirala expressed his heartfelt thanks to APED-Nepal for making him a part of a memorable event. He expressed his wish to work together with these children in future too. Mr. Narayan Bhakta Shrestha lauded his student’s wonderful efforts and thanked APED-Nepal for enabling these students to express their creativity. After he declared the end of second session, we had group photo session with the participating children, teachers of school, Mr. Koirala and other children who were present to see their friends painting. After the group photo session, children were definitely hungry. They enjoyed the tea and snacks and interacted with guests and members of APED-Nepal and expressed their happiness in being part of the programme.

There was good media coverage of the programme. Two English dailies and one Nepali dailies published news about the programme. Similarly, Nepal 1 television broadcasted the news on the evening of the programme and also the day after on the morning of 3rd December, international disabled day. Please see the details in Annex-2

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