Who We Are
Nagarik Aawaz (NA) is a non-governmental organization dedicated to promoting peace. We founded, the NA in 2001, at the height of the armed conflict (1996-2006) in Nepal. In more than two decades, the grievances that led to armed conflict have not changed. Structural violence is intensifying at an alarming rate. Nepal has not addressed the wounds, and scars caused by the armed conflict. The significant human rights violation cases still go unaddressed. Nagarik Aawaz works for a Just and Peaceful Nepal and feels that youth and women are key to realizing the goal. We invest in and provide space for women and youth to be transformative peace leaders. These transformations are personal, psychological, social, and cultural in nature. Transformed youth and women have the ability to challenge discriminatory structures. They challenge both the large and small structures that promote violence. We design our programs/initiatives to promote the idea of peace in each community. Communities are the owners of these programs. Only community people can keep peace going.
Our brief history
In 2001, we had a simple hope during a complex situation of Nepal. We hoped to save people’s lives during the armed conflict in Nepal. In April 2001, Rita Thapa called upon her fellow activists for support. We then started with immediate responses to save lives. We gave small relief so that people can live. A woman coming from Humla, Nepal recalls how our team member went to her with a bottle of ghee when she just gave birth (in the following video) during the armed conflict. During that time she fled to Kathmandu from Humla to save her life.
Realizing that we need to do more in 2003, we did a small research. The research was on conflict-affected widows. Through this research and regular interactions we held, we found out that we had to save youths. They were the most at risk. We adopted a slogan, “Save seeds in famine and save youths in war”. We aided more than a thousand youths in less than ten years. We assisted them channel their anger and heal. Gave them skills of leadership and small economic support. Inspire them to adopt non-violence. We did that through a program called Displaced Youth Volunteer Program. Through this beautiful program, we gained amazing team members and peace practitioners like – Mr Hari Bahadur Dhami, Mr Govinda Acharya, Ms Pingala Basnet, and Ms Bishnumaya Gharti. In Nagarik Aawaz we pride ourselves on our values. This was the program we grounded all our values upon.
We knew working alone would mean nothing so we created a pool of organizations dedicated for peace work and saving youths. Sixteen organizations came with us in this loose network called – Joint Initiative for Peace. We still work with them to implement our projects collaboratively. This network still works as a think-tank group to analyze the context and actions needed in the changing context of Nepal.
In 2009, Rita Thapa started a process to hand this organization to the young leadership. Finally, in 2011 Dr Susan Risal, PhD took over the leadership. Nepal was also changing during that time. Nepal started its transition to peace. We took our values and expanded it in our communities. We started to work on the social and psychological reconciliation of conflict-affected women. We started to create young leaders adopting transformative peace leadership. We designed projects to help in the reconciliation of conflict-affected women within, and to address structural violence. Our goal was simple, We want to help Nepal never go back to armed conflict and help make Nepal a Just and Peaceful country.
The further we dedicated ourselves to peacebuilding we started to learn the importance of the past. Then in 2017, our team again sought the leadership of founder Rita Thapa to further our vision of – never again to armed conflict. We have started to build a space dedicated to peace practices in Nepal and for remembrance of armed conflict. We want to keep alive the narratives of people who experiences the armed conflict and survived it. We want our future generation to learn from our history. This is our dedication of 20 years and our vision.
We at NA are proud to call ourselves peace practitioners. As we all know, peace means many different things to different people. As a result, we have collectively defined values that guide our actions. As a peacebuilding organization, our actions, initiatives, and projects reflect the following values:
We care for human dignity and manage conflict through nonviolence. Component of care lives in our daily life operations and initiatives. This value guides us to practise empathy in our actions. Care helps us share each other’s strengths. We care among the team or in the communities we work in.
Peace exists on all levels. It is up to each individual to define peace in their way. Within us lies the power to define peace as we see fit. To help people live with dignity and justice, we strive to promote peace in their everyday experiences.
We make space where people can feel safe and secure to express, engage, and strive for a better future. Here we can say what we want without being afraid. Learn new ideas. Think about a better future. We can solve problems with love and care. We don’t judge here. We help heal each other here.
Harmony and peace, are built on good relationships. Trust is enhanced among individuals and groups as a result of it. It is through human relationships that we can work together, understand each other’s differences, and become closer.
Listening to Unheard Voices
Everybody has a voice. So we listen to that to respond according to time and context. We plan our responses by keeping people in our hearts and listening to their voices. We do this through dialogues and conversation.