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Change Bhaktapur: a campaign for better Bhaktapur

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Change Bhaktapur is a local youth-led campaign for bringing positive changes in Bhaktapur by solving different social problems deeply rooted in the community. Initially started by five college-going friends, three active members- Rajiv Budathoki, Santosh Pandey and Sagun Raj Lage have been currently coordinating the campaign.

“First of all, we wanted to create a platform where we get to apply whatever we have studied. Secondly, there are many social problems that are prevalent in society and we wanted to work to uproot those. So on a casual discussion in college, the idea of starting a campaign was incepted. We wanted to come up with the possible solutions that could bring positive changes. Bhaktapur is a beautiful and a culturally rich city very close to Kathmandu and its development was necessary,”shared Lage talking about the idea behind starting the campaign.

They first made a team and divided their roles as per their skills such as photography, leadership, technical management, etc. and coordinated the volunteers. Initially, their funds consisted of the savings from their own tiffin expenses. Their first ever work into the campaign was a Blood Donation programme. Then, in collaboration with Mr. Milan Rai,they launched White Butterfly Movement in Siddhapokhari, Bhaktapur. With the pace of time, volunteers not only from Bhaktapur but also from Kathmandu and Lalitpur joined their campaign.

Bhaktapur experienced a massive damage in the twin earthquakes that struck Nepal in 2015. “We, the members of Change Bhaktapur made a short visit to Bhaktapur with three volunteers from India and during the field visit, we found the scenario miserable. Hence, we took an initiative to conduct Mobile First Aid campaign. Also, as the people in Bhaktapur were facing health and transportation problem, the campaign was carried out to serve the injured patients with first aid facilities,” said Lage. Change Bhaktapur also has been involved in reconstruction of school in Bhaktapur. “Currently, we are working on the reconstruction of Parijat School in Sudal, Bhaktapur,”shared Lage.

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When the people of Bhaktapur were penalized for stealing electricity with extra hours of load shedding, they came up with Anti-Load Shedding Campaign. The campaign was carried for four days, and included awareness program and talks with the government officials and political parties. The campaign was successful to see a massive change in Bhaktapur. Sagun reminisces the campaign as the most unforgettable and effective campaign so far. “For the campaign, there were only 15 to 16 members in the team, but no sooner had we reached to electricity office to drop the letter of memorandum, we were surrounded by a crowd of 200 political party cadres within 5/10 minutes. There was clash between the members of political parties and us,” shared Lage. “For our continuous struggle in conducting the Anti-Load Shedding campaign, Change Bhaktapur was recognized as one of the top 75 Youth Organizations in Nepal, just within 1.5 years of its establishment,” Lage added.

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Nepal has been facing problem of strikes due to reasons such as political instability, rise in the price of petroleum product, shortage of gas, etc. “We were inspired from ‘Bibeksheel Nepali’, so we launched Anti-bandh campaign through which people were made aware of the effects and consequences made by strikes in their life,” said Lage.Similarly, youths have a strong vision, but they face the problem of bringing big dreams to reality for addressing this problem, they conducted a seminar titled ‘New Generation: Dreams and Reality’ where esteemed people from different sectors such as education, entrepreneurship, and motivation were invited and a talk show was conducted. Through this talk show, they created an environment for making youth aware to structure their vision and dreams into reality. When Saptari district in Nepal faced an acute crisis due to flood, they decided to help the flood victims by collecting clothes, foods and other relief materials and carried out the Relief to Saptari campaign. To address Climate change, they conducted Climate Strike campaign as part of which they visited two schools, Oxford School and Om School and they made children aware by conducting creative activity sessions including paintings and games to address the environmental issues.

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Along with the success of these various activities, many challenges have also followed their way. As Change Bhaktapur is not a registered organization, people showed less interest in investing on it, and they were also not trusted by many organizations. To overcome this, they have now come up with a plan to formally register the umbrella organization as ‘We: The Changers’.

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Keeping up the spirit of developing society, under the changers campaign, they have established a tutor center in the rural area of Sudal, Bhakatpur. In the center, different types of training are conducted every Saturday from 4-5 pm.

“I got an opportunity to learn different things from the campaign such as leadership quality, being social, discovering potentiality, utilizing time in a productive manner and being a responsible citizen,” said Lage. With the success of the Change Bhaktapur campaign, they are soon planning to launch similar campaigns in all 75 districts of Nepal.

They are the epitome how self-motivated youths can bring about a change in the society, and create a ripple effect that ultimately benefits the whole nation.

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By Garima Rajdhami