October 09, 2007, Ottawa, Canada: Nepalese artists showed a spectacle of Nepalese dance and songs in Ottawa, the capital of Canada. They were performing in the second annual Himalayan Heartbeat program, organized by Canada Forum for Nepal (CFFN, www.cffn.ca) in benefit of an education project in Nepal. They were performing in front of an audience composed of invited guests, mountaineers, Nepal enthusiasts, and other public in Canada.
Susan Maskey, an accomplished Nepali singer who, in the early 1980s, was a lead singer in a band that was promoting democracy and raising voices against autocracy through its music, enthralled the audience by her brilliant performance. Singing along with her was her daughter, Astha Tamang Maskey, a young and aspiring singer well-known in the Toronto music scene. The ambience was augmented by dance performances by 10 year old Rupsi Kaushik, high school student Grishma Thapa, and young university students Rasna Sherchan and Geeta Thapa. In the program, Rajendra Rana and Robin Subba of Ottawa performed as supporting artists.
The featured speaker of the program was Honorable Marion Dewar, a popular former Mayor of Ottawa who later became National Chair of Oxfam, Member of Parliament, Order of Canada, and a national icon through her many worthy endeavors, was the featured speaker of the evening. Speaking in the program, she said, “By not investing in public education, a country ends up spending more money on damage control at a later stage.”
A Canadian who has devoted her career in building sustainable communities in the world, Hon. Dewar also eloquently emphasized the role of public health and said, “Effective integration of public education of children and a universal public health is necessary to build a strong nation or else a health care system would effectively become a ‘sick care system’.” Emphasizing that Canada must be a positive partner with Nepal, she said, “We would build a better world by helping countries like Nepal achieve peace and democracy instead of spending enormous money in war”.
“Nepal is a country of magnificent beauty and its mountains are breathtaking”, said Meagan McGrath, Canada’s most accomplished mountaineer and an Aerospace Engineer. She was recognized by Canada Forum for Nepal for becoming the youngest Canadian woman to successfully climb the Seven Summits of the world, and for saving the life of Usha Bista, a mountaineer, while descending from the summit of the Mt. Everest in May 2007. Connecting with tremendous challenges that Nepal is facing, she said, “By overcoming one challenge at a time and continually executing in the same manner, one can solve complex problems.”
An accomplished educator, Donna Lea, from Illinois, USA, said, “I returned depressed by seeing the appalling conditions of Nepalese children during my visit a decade ago and started a small sister-school project to help students in a rural public school.” Astonished by an unexpected success of the project, she said, “When you cast a stone on a lake, you never know how far the ripples run.” Her husband Tom Lea, also an accomplished educator, emphasized four key aspects of the success of the project: defined for local needs, managed by local people, clearly established rules, and transparent to everybody involved.
Brian Sanderson and Steve McNabb, co-founders of Radio Free Network, who are working with Canada Forum for Nepal on Radio Free Nepal project, highlighted the concept of Internet enabled community collaboration project with community radio being the central component. This project, which is free in all sense including uncensored and democratic participation by community members, use of free software tools, and free of any kind of license fees, is designed to vitalize the cultural and collaborative spirit of rural Nepal. Also in the program, Pramod Dhakal, Executive Director of the CFFN, presented the concept of the sister-school project between Canada and Nepal.