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Prawash Gautam

Name: Prawash Gautam
Country: Nepal
Pestalozzi Scholar: 2005-2007

Prawash graduated with a BA in Integrated Social Sciences from Jacobs University in Germany in 2010 and returned to Nepal, where he completed his MA in English. He currently works as a Freelance journalist contributing to The Kathmandu Post and The Record. His interest in social history has led Prawash to write several articles under the title ‘Recording Old Kathmandu’, which includes stories of the first tea sellers in Kathmandu and a Sikh who came to Kathmandu from Rawalpindi in 1931 and helped to build the city’s water pipelines.

It is clear to see Prawash’s passion for sharing the untold stories of the forgotten events and characters of Kathmandu and a thirst for the research and oral history process that goes into these journalistic pieces.

Prawash is also working with the Barbara Foundation, an NGO that runs projects with marginalised groups such as dalits and girls to promote education and better health opportunities. He explained that in in several remote villages in Surkhet, a poor hilly region, not a single dalit girl was attending school. There are many reasons for this including poverty, lack of resources and reliance on girls to help the family. He explained, ‘Six months into the academic year and there are still no books. The government is only paying lip service to free education.’

A further project is that of supporting the endangered Bote ethnic group. They are traditionally fishermen and boat paddlers, however their professions are dying out and the aim is to help them to set up income generating programmes that become self-sustaining.

As we discussed his time at Pestalozzi, Prawash expressed his fondness for the environment he had the good fortune to study in. His love of nature and walking continues as he walks the dusty roads of Kathmandu as he goes about his daily business. ‘Arriving at Pestalozzi provided my first opportunity to meet with people from other continents and was my first encounter with African students. I recall the birthday parties we had. I would sit with the reluctant dancers and Nomzy and Amarachi, who were great dancers, would do their best to get Amod, Ravi and myself up to dance!’

He also recalled the fun he and his fellow students had sharing communal cooking on Saturday mornings when there was no college. The infamous hill down to the bus stop was also a reminder of the day he was late and tried running to keep up with Vassy to catch the bus, only to find that he was slower and watched a triumphant Vassy wave at him from the departing bus as he reached the main gate!

I asked Prawash why he felt the work of Pestalozzi was so important and what he would like to say to those people who have supported and donated to the charity’s work. He reflected, ‘It brings people with so many differences together to find a common denominator. I really learned from being with individuals from a variety of nationalities and religions, but often found we had more commonalities than differences. It provides students like me with an opportunity they would not otherwise receive. It was life changing and opened up so many avenues and created a ripple effect, changing the lives of so many other people. To the donors I would say that supporting Pestalozzi students is one of the best things that you can do. They are hardworking and committed students from poor backgrounds and education will change their lives as well as the lives of others.’

Prawash’s words resonate with me. The impact of a holistic education, where young people are given the opportunity to use their heads, hearts, hands and sometimes feet not only motivates them to learn more, but to give more too.

If you would like to read the mentioned articles by Prawash you can find them at these links:

https://kathmandupost.com/miscellaneous/2018/03/10/tilauri-maila-and-kanchha-dai-kathmandus-first-tea-sellers

https://kathmandupost.com/art-culture/2019/06/11/how-two-sikhs-built-kathmandus-water-pipelines-and-laid-its-roads

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