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Filming for the future, we’re not alone

The following guest post is from The Himalayan Gap Project Blog – writen by Chele Norrie and photography by Michael Nyffeler
As we wondered around the village one afternoon, we witnessed a group of students and a teacher carrying a tripod. A tripod sticks out like a sore thumb in the village—especially to a photographer. We had to stop them! They briefly explained that they were shooting a movie about Nangi. Of course, this sparked our interest and we quickly made plans to follow them around on their various days of filming.

“The students have been shooting their movie for three months,” explains Krishna, the film’s director and HEF Mathematics teacher for the last 12 years. The script was written by Hemkumari, an upper-level Science and Education teacher at the school. As a very influential and active member of the Nangi community and surrounding villages, Hemkumari illustrates the value of education in the film’s script–in addition to the new opportunities that can be created in the form of jobs by being educated. At the moment, she is also writing a thesis on ‘women empowerment.’

The length of the currently untitled film is just under two hours. The film is not only for entertainment however, the purpose goes much farther. The objective is to educate — to teach people that there are other options and opportunities for their future, even in the rural areas of Nepal. It is the school’s very first attempt at making a movie. The movie takes place in Nangi and highlights two different families that live inside the village. Both families are poor, economically, and both families each have one son—both of whom are educated. Just before the age of 21, the two young men are assessing their options for the future. One man decides to stay in Nangi. The other decides to go abroad to Qatar, as many Nepalese people do to find work, due to the lack of jobs available in Nepal.

Krishna says, “Ninety percent of the village’s population leaves Nangi to find work in cities or aboard in countries like Qatar or Malaysia.” Therefore, much of the young generation goes abroad to find work. Unfortunately, as the film points out, many are exploited as workers or some never find work at all despite promises from agencies.

The process of going abroad to find work is illuminated in the film. Many students are attracted to agencies that claim they will “set everything up for you abroad.” This is a standard fee of 100,000 Nepalese Rupees (a little more $1,400 USD) – a lot of money for a villager of rural Nepal. The family will usually acquire the money by taking out a loan through local groups or organizations in the village or surrounding cities. Like any loan, interest occurs. Therefore it is imperative that a well-paying job is available overseas. Throughout the story, we find that one man decides to go abroad even though the other man advises him to stay, that he can stay and still find work. “Because he is educated, he can find or even create work [at home],” explains Krishna. “You do not need to go overseas to find work, you don’t have to be absent from your family, especially when there is no guarantee of finding quality work abroad,” he goes on to say, “If you have skill and you are educated you can create jobs here.” This is exactly what the man who chose to stay does. He starts a very successful chicken farm in the village of Nangi.

Toward the end of the film, we find out that the man who borrowed the money, and went overseas, ends up not finding work. When he returns to the village, he visits his friend at the chicken farm. He ends up working at the chicken farm and begins the process of paying off his original loan.

Because of the wireless Internet, the Himanchal school, and the income-generating projects that have been instigated by Mahabir Pun and self-sustained by the villages, many students are now able to forgo traveling abroad to find work. Upon completion, the film will debut in several surrounding Myagdi district villages. “Together we are building a building. This movie will be one stone. It takes many stones to build a building. We don’t know if it will change the minds of the villagers but we do have hope.” -Krishna Pun