Wednesday, 19 May, 2021

A Recognised Social Campaigner


CK Khanal

Born in a poor and backward family of indigenous Tamang community in a remote village of Kavreplanchok district, Akkal Bahadur Tamang has now been a well-recognised social worker and campaigner.
Engaged in social works in diverse fields including education, health, sanitation, foreign employment and skill development, Tamang, who had faced many difficulties to get enrolled in school in his childhood, feels immense pleasure while providing support to the needy children.
Tamang shared that he had to make struggle in his own family and in society to get enrolled in the school and complete the school level education. He was the first person completing school level education from the Tamang community of Khairipakha village in Temal Rural Municipality of Kavreplanchok district when he passed the school level certificate (SLC) exam in 2051 BS. Tamang could complete his school level education with the support of Gyan Bahadur Tamang, one of his elder brothers. Other family members, however, tried to restrict him from pursuing education.
Due to the poor economic condition and backwardness of his family, he got the chance to go to a school only when he reached 8 only. He was allowed to go to the school only after he promised he would claim his rights on the family property after he was enrolled in the school.
Despite the inability of purchasing new books and clothes during his school days, Tamang’s performance was good at the school level education. Tamang was the only literate person in his village that enabled him to teach the adult people of his village under a project when he was studying in grade 7. Tamang remembers it as the first social work he was involved in his life.
After finishing school level education, Tamang came to Kathmandu for pursuing higher level study. He arrived in Kathmandu with only Rs. 50 that he took from his father along with a strong desire to pursue higher education. Akkal’s stay in Kathmandu during the initial years was quite difficult one. He first started a job at a newly introduced electric tempo company to earn a living and to futher study. He had to wash tempos early in the morning by using water in freezing winter temperature.
Being an SLC graduate, Tamang could not enjoy the job for a long time thinking it as an inferior one and left it. He then started working at a shop in Bishal Bazar which he had to quit shortly in lack of clothes to change while going to work. During that time he had had only one pair of clothes to wear but his boss was repeatedly asking him to change them.
Akkal then started the job of salesman starting from cycle than in tempo and van in which he became successful due to his honesty and dedication towards works. In a short time, Akal became able to hold the position of zonal level in charge of a reputed company. Tamang then started his own business as a supplier for some time and then move to South Korea to accumulate money required for the business of a larger scale.
Tamang, who had faced very hard struggles in his early life, when encountered with many Nepali workers facing problems in Korea started helping them forming an informal organisation named – Nepali Emergency Service Committee in 2006 there in Korea. It was the first organised effort of Akkal towards social service. Akkal, with the support of other Nepali and Korean friends, served hundreds of Nepali people there in Korea to manage food and accommodation, search for new jobs and help them return home.
After serving needy Nepali people in Korea from 2006 to 2010, Akkal return to Nepal and continued his social work establishing an organization –Nepal Korea Cultural Exchange and Social Organisation in 2011.
The organisation is running various campaigns in the field of education, health and the environment. Impressed from Korea, Akkal and his team firstly initiated the cleaning campaign ‘Green and Clean City’ in 2011. Impressed by this campaign and other independent campaigns, the cleaning campaign has now turned to a national campaign as Bagmati Cleaning Campaign, Ring Road Cleaning Campaign, East-West Cleaning Campaign etc. Nepal government has also directed all local levels to operate such cleaning campaigns throughout the country. “As one of the initiators of cleaning campaign, such development in the country gives me internal satisfaction, said Tamang.

Education Campaign
In 2012, Tamang started another campaign in the education sector as ‘Education for All’. Under this campaign, hundreds of children who were deprived of formal education have got an education so far. Currently, a total of 128 students of different level are getting a scholarship to study at a different level under this campaign. Now, the government has also made school level education compulsory with the policy of taking guardianship from well-off people for the education of children from poor families. Tamang has also helped to establish libraries for the schools where children of poor families use to study.
Besides, Tamang, who is also the chairperson of the Nepal Chapter of the International volunteers’ Association, is also conducting free health camps regularly in remote villages of Nepal inviting international health volunteers to the country.
Currently, under the self-employment campaign, Tamang is providing skill development training free of cost to unemployed women and youths and assisting them to run their businesses. Currently, Tamang’s organization is providing skill training related to garment, soap production and bakery. Recognising Tamang’s dedication towards social works, Budhanilkhantha Municipality of Kathmandu is providing land to establish and run ‘Women Entrepreneurship and Employment Centre’.
Moreover, as a campaign to reduce poverty, Tamang is currently running a departmental store through a cooperative in a new model which provides shares of the cooperatives to the member buyers from the 50 per cent profit of the business. He opined that one of the major challenges to reduce the poverty of poor families was their compulsion to spend a large part of the income for daily consumption due to the large size of the family. Therefore, the model of making poor families the owner of the business from their essential spending can be an effective tool to reduce poverty, he added.

So far, more than 1000 families have been a member of the store and the cooperatives is planning to expand its business in new locations. Akkal has been able to do these all social works in line with his trekking and mart business. Recently, he has purchased a private school in which he had given a scholarship to 100 needy students from poor families. Tamang has also the support of his good friends from abroad mostly from South Korea to manage the finance and logistics required for his social works.
Beyond the self-satisfaction he receives by serving people in dire need, Akkal has received various awards and felicitations from national and international level for his social works. He has been conferred by the decoration ‘Samaj Sewa Ratna’from the government on the occasion of Constitution Day. He has also been awarded from the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health and Population and Ministry of Forest and Environment for his social works and campaign. Besides, Tamang has been honoured by various international awards including the Volunteer of the Year Award from South Korea and the Humanitarian Award from America.

(Khanal works at TRN)