I can never forget the horrifying experience of 7.8Mw or 8.1Ms on Richter scale earthquake on 25 April, 2015. Luckily there was no casualty of life among my family and friends but there was a huge loss of property. Just 22 km away from Kathmandu, Chhatre Deurali, a village in Dhading where i was born, 95% of the mud houses was turned into rubbles. People there got some supplies and were expecting more. Like in other places people made their own shelter with whatever resources they had. Seeing people living under tarps and corrugated metal sheets, i felt like doing something in the village.
Image: A house damaged by earthquake
Image: Bachhala Devi temple affected by earthquake
People assume money solves every problem, so they think donating money would solve problems of earthquake victims. They don’t think or they don’t have time to think about who uses the money and for what purpose. I knew from news that a lot of fund was coming as many countries had pledged millions of dollars of aid to Nepal. With those funds comes plans and projects that hardly correspond to the ground reality.
I thought to take a different route. A route that goes inside the community, engages them, identify their challenges and opportunities, then make a plan with the community. I talked with my team at Karkhana, we came up with the idea of screening movies and documentaries in the village. I was not sure what kind of reaction would I get from the villagers but I had to find out.
I went to Chhatre Deurali on 17th July, friday evening. Next morning i went to the nearby Bacchala Devi Temple, where elderly people were singing prayers. Later I talked with them about my plan of doing something for the village and starting with the movie show. They seemed excited and told me that I can use the covered hall of the temple for projecting movies.
Within two weeks, I sourced a projector from Raj Gyawali from Social Tours, Karkhana spared a laptop, bought some white cloth to be used as screen and got a sound system and a voltage stabilizer from the temple. From first of August, I started screening movies. About thirty kids, five youths and ten elderly people showed up. More people started turning up every week and some of them even from the villages nearby. Later I started holding separate screening for adults and children.
Image: Setting up the screen
Image: Rainbow over Bachhala Devi Temple
Image: Week 1, first August, movie show
Image: People of all age watching a movie
Image: Week 3: Interaction with women group
Image: Week 2: Kids reaction to a movie
Image: Week 5: Add some tarps to block lights
Image: Week 4: Show must go on even if there’s no power
The interesting part for me is getting to interact with the villagers and start knowing them personally. Sagar Pandey is a 10 year old boy who comes to the movie show every saturday. He is a smart kid and becomes first or second in his class. He lives in an abandoned poultry farm as this house turned into rubble due to the earthquake. I was once at his place, he showed me some dc motors as he was planning to make a vehicle out of it. He said he want to watch cartoons and videos of people making things so that he could learn from them. He loved Nepali movie Kabaddi and was laughing the whole time.
Samundra Hamal is 21 year old, who just completed his +2 in commerce. He is interested in learning new things and is curious. He helps us pack our stuff after every movie show. He loves to watch action movies. He also likes to build robots. When i gave him two motor and two switches, he made his own remote controlled robot. He is planning to go to Kathmandu for higher study.
Image: Samundra, Sagar and other kids from village tinkering with motor and switches
Ram Hari Dhital is an elderly at village. He participates in the prayers every Saturday. He is a farmer but he is too old at age of 68 to do farming. He likes to watch religious movie and listen to religious stories.
Every time i go to Chhatre Deurali, kids encircle me to ask which movie I will be screening. Sometime i say the name of the movie and sometime i say it’s a surprise. The elderly people also inquire about the movie.
Movie screening is a small activity of a larger project to be discovered. It’s been five weeks, i have started to go to Dhading and screen movies. Everytime I meet new people, i get to talk to them. Know more about their livelihood and their aspiration. The challenges they are facing and their solution to it. I find diverse interest in people regarding what kind of movie to watch. I realized the people don’t want to watch English movie at all, may be some Hindi movies but they love to watch Nepali movies. I am excited that the idea of showing movie is working and hope it will unfold something interesting to work on with the villagers.