Rebati is 65, dressed in a vivid blue sari. As the community speak agitatedly and honestly to us via two translators, she is fiery, outspoken and strong, ignoring the drunken man who tries to interrupt the group saying he doesn’t like it when the woman talk.
“The government says it will give us a pension if we can build a toilet, but how can we when we don’t own land. When we send our children to school, they are sent back if they walk across land owned by someone else. This is the third time I have had tell this story, and still there is no action.”
In Nepal, most citizens, even lower caste ones, own land. The Musahar as a no caste community do not have citizenship, and therefore have none of the legal rights afforded by citizenship. They are subject to impossible demands for development by the government, and it seems even a well-meaning cycle of NGO’s do not seem to fully understand the challenges they face. The frustration the Musahar feel at their exclusion as “untouchables” is palpable, and it only seems exaggerated by NGO’s visits to talk and photograph them in their villages.
A woman joins Rebati, who angrily rejects a request to photograph her:
“The government is forcing us to make money to build a toilet, but they give us no assistance. You keep coming back and nothing happens.”
NGO’s have a long, hard, sensitive task in finding solutions for this unique community; they’re embattled within and without. Street Child is collating data to gain an in-depth insight into the challenges faced by the Musahar in an effort to find solutions, three men of this community are acting as front line researchers in helping them gain insight into their day to day challenges so that when a solution can be proposed, it can be on their terms.
“Men who have money in our village drink a lot. When they come home they beat up their wives and children; they don’t have a brain to save the money. Ideally we would to set up our own small scale busi
- Musahar Community - Terai Nepal-5692.jpg
- Chris Parkes
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- Contained in galleries