A Standing Ovation for Indira

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I know Indira for more than seven years. There are few words to describe her strength and determination to improve the living conditions of children, especially those living in the jails all around the country. Indira is literally a volcano of ideas, energies and efforts that made Prisoners Assistance Nepal, PA Nepal, the organization she founded long time ago, a unique champion for child rights’ protection. 

Indira is really from grassroots: she comes from a disadvantaged family, humble origin, not an easy life at all but she climbed all the way to the top of social activism without losing her original flavor, keeping her feet well on the ground, humbly and fighting every single day against false rumors and even  gainst drops of funding that have been recently hit PA Nepal.

After all justifying official aid money for taking care of children is not easy, especially when you need to pay their meals, school fees, health checkups  and everything else related to their wellbeing. Oftentimes too much focus is given on impact, sustainability etc.  Interesting enough PA Nepal has been doing quite a lot to combine child protection with a viable way of operating, sometimes failing but also with a good track record of success.

Despite all the challenges, Indira relentlessly and incessantly has been keeping fighting for her children, being able to expand the outreach of PA Nepal in different parts of Nepal, introducing an innovative school curriculum, the Junkiri model of education that blends theory with practical, real world education.

Moreover, as said before, PA Nepal also worked very hard to make its activities financially sustainable and viable through several livelihoods activities and this is something that Indira understands very well.

Now finally, after already being already an Ashoka Fellow, Indira was recognized as one of the three World’s Children’s Prize Laureates 2014 together with Malala and John Wood, the founder of Room to Read. Though Indira and John were recognized as honorary winners with the Nobel Prize for Peace Malala bagging the top award, this is a huge recognition not only for Indira, her family, her children but also for all Nepal.

The award is considered as the Nobel Prize for children rights and it is the largest advocacy initiative to promote the rights of the children around the world.  Hosted by Sweden and initiated by late Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi, and Xanana Gusmão, three world famous peace builders, the Award counts now, among its patrons, nothing less than H.M. Queen Silvia of Sweden, Graça Machel, wife of Nelson Mandela  and Bishop Desmond Tutu, another hero of anti apartheid struggle.

Few months ago Indira had told me about her nomination. She could have done a lot of marketing to promote her name in order to grab the first award but true to her style and way of working, she did not care at all about winning or not. Indira could have done a massive marketing operation style CNN hero but she totally rejected the idea.

After all Indira is not after visibility or celebrity. When she was speaking about the award, she was satisfied enough but mostly she was happy for her children and the incredible staff working with her, a small team, very committed to the cause.

Back in Nepal, the irony is that PA Nepal does not have that great visibility that it well deserves. Maybe we have too many organizations doing a great work and we have too many heroes.  Maybe there is a bit of rivalry in the sector or maybe because Indira and her team wants to really stay true to their mission of changing the living conditions of children of prisoners and they do not care much about anything else.

Probably one reason could be the fact that child protection is such a vast area that it is difficult to spotlight a niche sector like the one chosen by PA Nepal. After all children living in jails are hidden children. More probable is that Indira does not like to compromise at all and this is one her greatest quality.

Despite international recognition, she never ever changed her way of living, always the same, an humble way of carrying on with life, even if this meant sacrifices for her family and had some impact on her health recently.

Indira is unstoppable and this should be the way. Hopefully the due recognition will now also come from her home country, Nepal. Not recognition for the sake of recognition but something that can lead to more practical support to strengthen PA Nepal’ work and reach out more children in need.  Hopefully donor agencies and impact investors will wake up and realize how important is the work done by Indira.

Congratulations to Indira but also big applause to her staff for the amazing work accomplished so far.


For more information on the award, please check: http://worldschildrensprize.org/nominees2014

Also see the article: http://sharing4good.org/article/cnn-hero-2012-congrats-pushpa-indira-and-many-other-social-workers

For more information on PA Nepal, please check: http://www.panepal.org/


Position: Co -Founder of ENGAGE,a new social venture for the promotion of volunteerism and service and Ideator of Sharing4Good

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