In order to end discriminatory practices against so-called low caste “Dalits”, Nepal passed a bill on caste-based discrimination and untouchability in 2011. Although this act criminalises untouchability, the discrimination against dalits still thrives in Nepali society. 19 year old social activist, Bishnu Mijar, from Sindhupalchowk is one of the few activists who’s fighting against caste based discrimination in his community with an aim to change Nepali mindsets.
Bishnu is a subjugated minority himself who has been deeply troubled by the fact that some people of his community are socio-economically disfavoured. So, he has been interested in helping minorities from a very small age but has been officially working as a social worker from 2016.
Currently, Bishnu is working on a campaign ‘Ma dalit?‘ where he runs awareness programs on the discrimination against minorities. This has gained support from 12 different local bodies of Sindhupalchowk. He also organises and participates in events that actively uplifts dalit community and dalit children. Likewise, Bishnu is also working on a project of “Sabai Ko laagi Guranstariya Sikshya“(Quality Education for all) in remote areas of Sindhupalchowk to help dalit children and children with handicapped parents. These young children do not have access to schools because of their social status and economic hurdles. Through this project, he and his team give scholarships to children from collective fund and collaborate with different schools. They have collaborated with 10 local schools till now.
Despite his relentless effort, his journey hasn’t been very easy. “People in our communities have internalised the discrimination which makes it very difficult to change their mindsets,” said Bishnu woefully. This internalisation has led many of his dalit friends to disengage from the campaign. When he didn’t even get support from some of his dalit friends, he was really discouraged at one point. But he kept his hope alive and kept on fighting for dalit rights.
Glocal Teen Hero and his future plans
He first heard about GTH from Sagar Parajuli, a friend from his hometown who also happens to be Glocal Teen Hero Alumni. “When I researched more on GTH, It felt like this platform will help me gather me the social capital I need. People in my community will have more faith in my campaign after such recognitions,” said Bishnu.
Bishnu wants to expand his campaign ‘Ma Dalit?’ all over Nepal. As a double bachelor’s student in science and social work, he cannot fully commit to a Nationwide campaign as of now. He has arranged meetings with Nagar Dalit Sanjal, a social organisation, for future campaign prospects all over Nepal. With necessary funds and resources he can expand his project and help more number of disenfranchised minorities.