Text Version of "The Activist Journey"
The Text-version of the Film, “The Activist Journey, The Hidden Hope of Humla”
The original version of the film was produced in Chinese language and the whole film is narrated and described by Paige, the host of the company, August TV. production House Singapore. it also incorporates subtitle in English which is extracted below: Program duration 23 minutes Nepal With its majestic peaks but many of her people cannot see them. There are many inequalities in this world. That sometimes we have little choice but to accept, but accepting them does not mean give up. In Nepal many visually impaired children are deprived of the chance to go to school because of prejudice. But one activist refused to submit to fate and decided that since they could not come to school, he would bring school to them.
“The weakest voice needs an ear. The deepest sorrow needs sympathy. The most human struggle must go on.” We are going to a place inaccessible even by car. The district of Humla is in north western Nepal. It is one of the most remote regions of Nepal. It can only be reached by small passenger’s plane. The plane took us to Simikot, the center of Humla. The terrain is steep here. Few people in the world get to see this mysterious land. That’s why it is also called the hidden Himalayas. In this mysterious and lovely snow kingdom, there are approximately 1.85 million visually impaired people. Approximately 30000 of them are children who are completely blind. 90000 are partially blind children. Most of these visually impaired children live in remote, backward village. In the traditional Nepalese mind set visual impairment or any disability is the mark of the curse or a sin. For this reason many visually impaired children are discriminated against by the villagers and even their own family and are cast into the darkest corners. 15 years old Harimaya is one of them.
She is partially blind and has walked unsteadily since she was a child. Those around her bully her “I could have sat in the front row, but my classmates would not change place with me. They throw my text book to the back of the room, and told me to go to the back;” fortunately Harimaya’s mother has not abandoned her. Her mother is a widow. Since her husband passed away 9 years ago, she has supported the family entirely by herself, providing for her four children through farm work. The family live in the remote mountain. So that Harimaya may study more. Her mother had rented a room in Simikot for Harimaya and her younger brother. That was nearer to their school. But Harimaya’s brother was unwilling to look after her. And found her a burden. Her brother complains that she could not cook, she wanted to help. But she ended of creating more work for him. At night her brother had to take her to the lavatory. He felt she was a lot of trouble. Like Harimaya, visually impaired children in Nepal are often bullied even when they get the chance to go to school. The totally blind are forgotten or ostracized, andonly stay at home. But there was an activist who, with single-minded passion changed the lives of these children. Chhitup is partially blind himself. But he has great determination and a superb memory. After completing his basic education in the mountain, he moved to the capital Kathmandu to attend high school. He even went to India for a course in social enterprise. On returning he set up a mobile school for the blind, bringing education to the blind children. 5 days a week, the teacher gives lessons to the blind children in five villages. The students are between 3 and 15 years of age.
Simikot is the only place where there is a class room. In other places lessons are conducted on rooftops or under trees. To come to school here, some students walk for hours from distant villages. “My school name is Manasarowar secondary school.” Chhaya Sunar says, one of the students in Mobile Blind School. Every student has a story. For stance, 15 years old Chhaya was born into a lower cast. She is partially blind. When she attended the normal school, she was completely unable to keep up with her classmates. In Chhitup’s school for the blind, she finally experienced the joy of learning. When Harimaya attended a normal school, she was unable to read the words on the blackboard even from the first row. After learning Braille, in the mobile school for the blind, she is now able to listen to the teachers, while reading her Braille text books and writing. She is also doing better at her school works. Students can also learn to use the abacus and to read Nepalese and English books in Braille. All the expenses of the school and teaching equipments are sponsored by an Indian non-governmental charity organization. The students need not pay any fees. Chhitup usually leaves teaching to the schools only teacher while he puts together the teaching materials and takes care of administration. Chhitup could have taken up of cushier, better-paid job but he chose a harder road wholeheartedly. Chhitup is unmarried and lives with his parents and siblings. His parents had to sell their cattle to put him through high school. But in rural Nepal, many parents felt to understand the important of education. Apart from working hard to persuade parents to let their blind children come to school, Chhitup must also teach the children life skill that their parents cannot teach them. For stance, the proper use of white cane is an important life skill.
Now when Harimaya need to go to the lavatory at night she no longer needs any one’s guidance. She hopes that she will no longer burden her family. And that she can live independently one day. Skills like this not only make life easier more importantly they also enable the blind to regain their dignity. All this has also given Hirimaya the courage to dream. “I want to be a Math teacher for the blind. I feel that as long as I study hard, my future will be brighter and I will find my dream job.” When night falls Harimaya is overcome by fear. In a pitch black world she feels alone and helpless. A doctor had told Harimaya that her sight would gradually deteriorate and one day, she would be completely blind. “I fear the attitude of the society most, and I worry most about going completely blind.” Harimaya says. I tried to change the subject. As I know my question has upset her deeply, I regretted it and felt very sorry. If you know your future is filled with uncertainty, waiting for the darkness to fall is excruciating. The choices she can make in the future are limited. Their helplessness in the face of life is heart rending. To the partially blind no matter how dim the light they see, it remains a lamp that guides them forward. Education is another lamp that brightens their heart and future. Before the sun sets, we visited Helen’s home. 5 years old Helen is the youngest student in the mobile school. He is in the kindergarten class. Sanitary condition in the mountain is poor.
So Chhitup teaches the visually impaired children proper hygiene and good life style habits. In spite of their disability blind children approach learning with greater focus and seriousness than normal children. Helen used to dislike going to school. But he has enjoyed school since he learns Braille. His parents are very supportive of his receiving education for the blind. His mother learned Braille too. To help him revise what he learns. We were filming in late autumn. And chill of the winter had crept up on us. But the mobile school continued its work of education all the same. There were still many visually impaired children in the mountain waiting for the mobile school to arrive. On this day, We are following Chhitup to another village to see the children. Before we set off I think of Harimaya. Her home and room were very shabby. Winter is coming and they have not got the basic facilities to keep warm. So if it is within our means I thought we should get these things for her. The quilt may keep her warm through a cold winter but she will face many formidable challenges in the life to come. What more can I do for her? I never knew, you could feel this powerless when you are unable to help someone. “Note: the speaker provided a set of beddings for Harimaya.” The teacher travels on the rocky and steep path by foot or on horseback. At least once a day, he loads his computer and teaching materials on the horse and travels for four hours to the next village to teach. Led by Chhitup, the crew and I got a firsthand experience of the effort and difficulty involved in going into the mountains to teach. We are finally here. We took almost five hours. You go up and down, the mountains on the horse back. And for three hours you go without water but they have to spend that much time every day. Travelling from village to village, to teach these kids, how have the blind children in these mountains rewritten the script of the lives because of one activist’s action.
Only one percent of the land in Humla is arable. Rice cannot be cultivated here. So life is hard for the villagers living in the mountains. The area is also lacking in basic medical and educational facilities. There is only one hospital and high school in the entire district. 60 percent of the local children are too poor to go the school. Most families reserve the opportunity to go to school. For their able-bodied children. Disabled children can only attend elementary school at most. And most do not get to go to school at all. So when Chhitup brought the school for the blind into the mountains, he brought these children light. Every lesson is attended by between four and seven visually impaired children guiding their hands the teacher partially teaches them to read. In the hope that they will eventually be able to attend regular schools. 15 years old, Gorasingh was born completely blind He had always hoped to be able to study and read. But he never had a chance to go to school. He stays at home and helps with simple chores. Since having two lessons, he had derived boundless pleasure from learning. In the past, he suffered from poor self-esteem. And had few hope for his future. Since he learned to read, his life has filled a new hope. “Life is very hard for disabled person. Without any skills, you cannot find a job. If I help with the chores, I got fed. But there is only so much I can do when I grow up. I may not be able to find a job.”
Two weeks before we shot this, Gorasingh had learned from Chhitup to use the white cane. His life has improved much. He no longer needs someone to guide him and is able to walk alone. He is also able to help his mother fetch water. From now on, he can live independently and has found the self worth that comes from contributing to his family. Gorasingh hopes to make his own way in life with his own strength. “I do not know yet what I want to do in the future. Right now it is best for me to study hard,learn as many new things as possible. Pay attention to what the teacher says.” The mobile school comes to the village only once a week. Gorasingh cherishes every chance he has to learn. so he works particularly hard. As he has a quick mind and is making good progress, Chhitup has arranged him to attend a regular school next year. Chhitup believes that every child including the visually impaired has boundless potential. As far as he is able, he will educate them well. But there are also times when Chhitup feels powerless to help. Gorasingh’s older brother is 18 years old. He was born blind, deaf and dumb. Only the sense of smell and touch are left to him. Unable to let him attend his school, Chhitup feels a great helplessness. But this had not effected Chhitup’s determination to educate others visually impaired children.
His dream is to set up an education center in Simikot where visually impaired children can receive education for the blind. While attending regular schools. so that their lives may be improved. But the mobile school has only enough funds for a year. Chhitup is seeking sponsorship from non-governmental charities to create more educational opportunities for visually impaired children. Life may be hard in the mountain of Nepal, but those who live there are still able to dream, and they strive hard to pursue and realize those dream, that unshakeable conviction is so pure that it moves you. I am always idolized heroes in movies. On this trip to Nepal, I met a real hero. Chhitup may be partially blind, but in his eyes I saw goodness. I believe that to his pupils, he is a light in the darkness. Chhitup hopes to bring the knowledge, he learned in the city to the rural areas. TO help children who are visually impaired like him and deprived of education and improved their lives. Chhitup, May your dream come true! Thanks to you, I can continue to believe that heroes exist!!!
The full version of the film is available on youtube as below: