26 September, 2003

Indigenous Women Challenging the Global Agenda

Indigenous Women Challenging the Global Agenda
by Maya Dollarhide, Sushma Joshi, Voices Unabridged, 10/26/03

From the High Sierra of the Andes to the Sami territories of Scandinavia, indigenous women, a silent minority in international affairs, are just beginning to find their voices and discover their rightful place in the global community.

This past May hundreds of indigenous women, some from the most remote and desolate regions of the world, traveled to the United Nations in New York City. They came armed with an ambitious agenda and a vast array of topics to discuss at the second session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Whether dressed in business attire or traditional clothing made of bright, hand-woven fabrics and intricately beaded shawls, these women proudly illustrated their nations´ diversity while banding together to form a collective front of unified tribes.

High on their agenda was the quest for women’s rights, an issue that united them despite the striking differences in their cultural backgrounds. During two weeks of meetings, open debates, and private sessions, both indigenous men and women were heard by representatives of governments that frequently overlooked their needs and made them one of the world’s most threatened minority groups.

“This body is very new and its way of work is very new to the UN system, said Wilton Littlechild, a Cree Indian from Canada and a permanent Forum Member who founded The Indigenous Initiative for Peace with Nobel Peace Laureate Rigoberta Menchu-Tum. “We have seen a growing interest from nation states; we had over 30 states participating last time. This time we had over 70, and many of them expressed support for our works”.

Health: a Pressing Issue for Indigenous Women

Women and girls represent more than half of the estimated 300 to 500 million indigenous people in more than 70 countries worldwide. Threatened in terms of identity, they are also faced with inadequate pre and postnatal care, health education and treatment against sexually transmitted diseases.

Bblem Akouvi, from the African country of Togo, came to request technical assistance and funding for Togo’s rural indigenous women. “We hope that the UN will offer us assistance, especially in the rural areas. We need help from the governments and institutions,” said Akouvi. “There are many problems. For example, we have no way to get medicine or treatment from hospitals in the villages that are in rural areas. Also, the women have no health information and many of them have problems in pregnancy.” Thousands of miles away from Togo, women in the Quechua communities of Ecuador share the same hardship. Specifically, their maternal mortality rate of 250 deaths per 100,000 living births exceeds the national average of 170. Also, although Ecuador’s indigenous women have an average of 5.6 children as compared to 3 in the country’s coastal zones, one in every 10 infants does not live to see his or her first birthday.

Not surprisingly, the problems faced by rural women in Africa and Latin America are in many ways identical to those affecting indigenous women in some of the richest countries in the world. For example, according to a study by the Canadian government, 58% of the First Nations women who gave birth in 1999 were under 25 years old and the infant mortality rate of 8 deaths per 1,000 live births was 1.5 times higher than the Canadian national rate. Furthermore, twice as many First Nations births were classified with high birth weight, and the suicide rate for indigenous women between the ages of 14 to 25 was eight times the national.

In the United States, “one of the biggest health issues for Indian women is reproductive health and access to contraception and medicine, and hospitals,” said Charon Asetoyer, founder of the Native American Women’s Health Education Resource Center, in South Dakota. “Indian Health Services funding is getting cut back. Many women on reservations have to travel very far to get to a hospital or see a doctor.” Asetoyer was unable to attend the Forum this year, but has been actively involved with its development.

Indigenous women at the Forum agreed that their community overwhelming health problems needed to be recognized and addressed. Article 43 of the draft declaration of the rights of indigenous people echoes that sentiment, stating: “The rights recognized in this declaration apply equally to include indigenous men and women.” Unfortunately, however the draft has been sitting before the Commission on Human Rights in Geneva for nine years.

Many participants emphasized the need for swift passage of the declaration, before the Decade of the Indigenous People ends in 2004. “It is a pity that the draft declaration has been waiting for so long,” said Erica Daer, of the Working Group on Indigenous Populations, during the open forum. “That is unacceptable from every point of view.” Explaining its position on the issue, the United States Mission to the United Nations gave the following statement to the press: "The U.S. supports a strong draft declaration that covers indigenous people throughout the world. This is a complicated matter as the situation for indigenous people varies from Asia to Africa to Latin America, Europe and the U.S. Generally the U.S. would like to see a declaration that clearly states that indigenous people should have control over their local affairs." U.S. representatives declined to comment further.

Indigenous Women Set Next Year’s Agenda

The second session may be over, but the battle for the rights of indigenous women is just beginning. Untiring lobbying efforts have paid off, and the third session of the Indigenous People’s Forum, scheduled for May 10 to 21, 2004, will be entitled “Indigenous Women.” Achieving this focus from a plethora of equally pressing problems that beset indigenous communities was not easy. "It was quite tough to get everybody to agree…In fact, there was quite a bit of opposition, and some of the young men are still not talking with me,” said Stella Taming, head of the Women's Caucus, once a loose coalition of ad-hoc members that has since transformed into a successful lobbying group. "We feel there is a discussion about women, but our voices are not listened to," she added, “Women's concerns tend to be different from those of men, who often focus only on self-determination and political sovereignty.”

The Women's Caucus also made recommendations to the Forum about steps that needed to be taken to promote women's rights and called for investigations on the use of discriminatory reproductive health policies against indigenous women. It demanded that States take responsibility for violence against their indigenous communities, address the historical trauma of colonization, and better allocate resources to help survivors of violence.

Establishing “Indigenous Women” as next year's theme was a major victory in an international forum where activists of all backgrounds were aggressively pushing their own agendas. It was also urgent since, as the first Indigenous Women’s Summit in the Americas stated in December 2002, “the gains in international instruments have not resulted in the improvement of the lives of indigenous women in their communities….”

25 September, 2003


Woman's Inhumanity to Woman is one of the first books by a Western feminist that attempts to look at how women treat each other with the oppressiveness women have always attributed to men. While domestic violence, rape and harassment by men against women occur daily on a worldwide scale, women also continue to oppress, dominate, wound, undermine, backstab, overwork, underpay, beat and kill other women around them. Chesler, a psychologist and bestselling author who was part of the Feminist Movement of the Seventies, points out that it is integral for feminists to deal with women's sexism, and not let it remain a silent and taboo topic as it has in the past.
Psychological studies show that women are more prone to indirect aggression, which can be both verbal and non-verbal, and includes gossip, backbiting, rumors and shunning. This often leads to "social death" of the victim, and can be a painful and isolating experience. In some cultures, where honor killings are practiced and where women have an active part in getting the men to mobilized against the girl perceived to be defiling honor, it can lead to real death as well. Chesler looks at primate studies to show that undercurrents of competition between females is commonplace, and this often leads to aggressive behavior, including infanticide. The targets of female aggression are more often than not, other women and children.
Amongst teenage girls, physical fighting is not as common as amongst boys, although in some cases, as in Mexican street gangs, girls are expected to fight actively. More common is spreading gossip when the other person is not around. This verbal shunning leads to the social exclusion of one person from the group, leading to rejection. Teenagers also actively shame and ostracize their contemporaries to protect their own self-interests.
Women score high on interpersonal relations - warmth, positive emotions, good listening and communicating skills. But the same women can exhibit aggression and cruelty, especially towards other women. This is the paradox of the mother-in-law who can be cruel to the daughter-in-law while being a wonderful mother to her own children.
Chesler spends three chapters analyzing the myths of the mother-daughter dyad, and how that relationship is often fraught with conflict and violence. Drawing on research by Freud, Melanie Klien and Nancy Chodorow, Chesler looks at the way girls compete for their mother's affections and attentions, and respond to maternal anger and retaliation, more than boys do. Mothers can try to control daughters through coldness and silence, sexual surveillance, and maternal envy. Chesler, quoting Rozsika Parker of MotherLove/MotherHate: The Power of Maternal Ambivalence, writes that one mother "felt ill" when her daughters wore "unflattering shapes, clashing colors and horrid fabrics", and that mothers can often experience daughterly deviance from what the mother desires as "an almost physical wound." Feminists who desire a different life than the powerless ones of their mothers are reluctant to listen to their mother's stories, and experience "matrophobia" as they try to free themselves from the complicity of that fate.
Myths and fairy tales have often held strong clues to the hidden relationships between women. The Stepmother is an established trope in fairy tales, and can stand in for other social roles: the co-wife, the sister-in-law, the mother-in-law. Women's experience of other women as lifelong rivals and potential replacements complicates the aging process, where older females often compete directly for resources and attention with younger, more fertile ones.
Women also long for a good relationship with sisters. Working class women and non-white women "tend to report a strong and positive relationship to their sisters." While women long for intimacy with other women who are "best friends" and substitute sisters, they also fear betrayal. Sister relationships, like other primary relationships, are complicated and fraught with contradictory emotions, with love, jealousy, envy and competitiveness all playing out in the same emotional field.
In the workplace, women continue to treat other women in traditional, patriarchal ways. Competition is exacerbated by notions that there are only a fixed number of slots for women. Women have a harder time trusting women in power, especially if they are seen to be exhibiting male behavior. Incidences of sexual harassment in the workplace are minimized by female employees, who laugh off reports. One recent study demonstrated that women scientists rejected proposals by other women more than male scientists did. Women must learn how to work together with non-intimates without personalizing differences, as men have been trained to do, the author suggests.
In spite of the competitiveness and aggression, feminist groups and movements have brought significant changes for women globally. Starting with the vote, women have gained important advances in all spheres of public and private life, including the workplace, political representation, financial mobility and independence. Like the practice of friendship, the sisterhood of feminism is not a natural process, as we might think from the literature in existence, but an ongoing and complex commitment, something that has to be courageously and persistently practiced on a daily basis, Chesler suggests.
Rich with anecdotes, analysis of myths and psychological studies, Woman's Inhumanity to Woman blazes a trail for feminists and social activists to acknowledge how women can harbor the same feelings of sexism as men. Acknowledging the natural aspects of female aggression clears the way for women to embrace all parts of themselves. The introspection that comes from looking at women's internalized sexism is an important and necessary process - for the feminist movement as well as other social movements who continue the struggle for equality and freedom for the human race.

18 September, 2003


Susan Ford Collins was studying dysfunction for a year at the National Institute of Mental Health before it occurred to her: why not study the habits of highly successful people instead? That was the seed that started her on her path to writing the Joy of Success.
What is success? What skills make people successful? And how can these skills be taught? These ideas led her to shadow hundreds of successful people in all fields. She narrowed down her findings to quantifiable skills that she observed in her subjects, and started to teach these skills in workshops. Within months, she started getting calls from major corporations like IBM, Dow Chemical and Digital who wanted her to come down and share her process with their employees.
Susan Ford Collins is an animated woman, talking about her subject with tremendous energy. "It takes a lot of passion to make your dream come true," she starts off. Her first research subject was no other than Buckminister Fuller, who used to lecture for hours without stopping. "I want to follow you around for three months," she told him. He agreed.
Success is a word that most people shun. Success, usually defined only in material terms - the job, the money, the title, the car - is seen to be a process that takes over one's life, alienates one from family and society, and leads people into misery. But this, says Ford Collins, is a misleading concept. This is also the success that other people have in mind for you, but not the true success of what you might yourself want to do with your life.
Success, accord to Ford Collins, is three simple acts. Success is completion - completion of everyday tasks that take up our lives, like getting up in the morning, doing what we say we will do, going shopping for food, cleaning the house etc. Success is deletion - it is deleting all the unnecessary plans, ideas, wishes and goals that are no longer necessary or useful, and only clutter up our mental space. Deletion is also knowing when to say "no" to plans you do not want to be included in. Divorce, for instance, can be a successful act for somebody who no longer wants to be in that marriage. And success is creation - being able to share with other people a visual dream of what you want to achieve and create in the future.
Ford Collins advises keeping a "Success File" - a mental or physical file in which you file your successes. When your file is full, you feel successful, but when its empty, you can feel your life has gone drastically wrong, even though you may be the most materially successful person in the neighborhood. Success in the past leads to successes in the futures, because only by remembering what it felt like in the past can you imagine what it will feel like in the future. She also tells you that mistakes are not failures, they are "the universe redirecting us" to future directions.
Her other metaphor is the gears. Like cars, success also has gears that you have to shift manually. First gear is when you learn the ropes of almost anything, following basic rules. Second gear is when things start to pick up, and start taking on a life of its own. Third gear is sharing that vision of first and second gear with the rest of the world, creating something larger than just yourself. Most people get stuck in first and second gear - the trick, says Ford Collins, is to move into the third.
Moving into third gear requires a well constructed dream, one that has to be visualized to the last detail. Ford Collins draws upon an interesting scientific notion of the hologram for her visualization technique. Holograms are pictures that look 3D - we've seen them before. If you cut a photo negative into pieces, each piece would show part of a tree. If you cut up a hologram, each piece would show a whole tree. Neurosurgeon Dr. Karl Pribram and physicist Dr. David Bohm "have come to the conclusion that our universe is a hologram; therefore we can never directly know it because we can only experience it through our senses… They challenge us to look more seriously at what Eastern philosophy has been saying: Reality, at the highest level, is Maya. And what is Maya? Maya is simply a series of wavelike interference patterns, a series of holomovements and vortices."
Ford Collins goes on to explain that a sensory and detailed hologram of your dream, if shared with "co-creators", often has a high possibility of becoming real. Michael Talbot, author of The Holographic Universe, quotes Pribram from an article in Psychology Today, "It isn't that the world of appearances is wrong; it isn't that there aren't objects out there, at one level of reality. Its that if you penetrate through and look at the universe with a holographic system, you arrive at a different view, a different reality. And that other reality can explain things that have hitherto remained inexplicable scientifically: paranormal phenomena, synchronicities, the apparently meaningful coincidence of events."
When we experience synchronicity, that apparently random co-incidence of events that lead to most successes, theoretical physicist F. David Peat explains in Synchronicity: The Bridge Between Mind and Matter, that - "…what we are really experiencing is the human mind operating, for a moment, in its true order and extending throughout society and nature, moving through orders of increasing subtlety, reaching past the source of mind and matter to creativity itself."
Like Martin Luther King, who shared his vision through his "I have a dream" speech with the world and started the Civil Rights movement for blacks in the US, and like John Lennon, who shared his dream and created a whole planet of co-dreamers through a simple song and ushered in an global movement of peace, it is possible, Ford Collins suggests, for all of us to dream a successful dream and change the planet. The criteria is simple - first we have to start experiencing that joy by balancing our own lives into successful creations.

11 September, 2003

Sushma Joshi, The Kathmandu Post

I was in the computer lab of the New School at downtown Manhattan at 4:11pm, August 14, when the lights went out. The noise of two hundred hard drives shivering to a halt was oddly disconcerting. The air-conditioners took a couple more seconds to shut down. The lab, always lit perpetually with fluorescent lights, stocked with about two hundred colorful computers, and humming with unseen machinery, suddenly felt dim, dark, abandoned. I tried to eject my disk, but couldn't. Unlike a Mac, this machine did not have a tiny hole where you could stick the sharp end of a paper clip and manually eject the disk.
"When is the light coming back?" I ask the security guard. The man looks scared as he answers, "I don't know. The lights are out all over Manhattan." That's when the intercom starts to crackle indistinguishably. "Please exit the building immediately!" the jarring voice repeats in an infinite loop.
But we are used to Emergencies in this city by now. We are thinking about terrorist attacks, September 11, Anthrax, Code Orange, and nuclear Armageddon as we head down the stairs. I am thinking about those iodine pills I saw advertised on the Internet - is it iodine or some other chemical that you take after a nuclear attack, I try to remember as I walk out, clutching my waterbottle.
Outside, the sun is blazing and its oppressively hot. As I get to Fifth Avenue, I realize that all buildings have been evacuated. Thousands of office drones you never see from nine to five are outside, dressed in their high heels and suits, chatting and laughing. Its almost a reprieve - the sun is shining, its summertime. Women grab this chance to go shopping from the street vendors, trying on the purple hats and vinyl bags as if they're out on vacation.
I cross the avenue, wondering why some people are crossing the street, and others aren't. When I get to the middle of the road, I realize the traffic lights are dead. "Please!" an agitated young drama queen screams. "Can you wait for the cars to pass?" But everybody else is perfectly calm, both pedestrians and car drivers, as they weave in and out of the throng.
Two million people ride the subway into the city every day, and millions more live in the Island itself. That day, they were all out in the streets. And yet, surprisingly, there was no chaos. People were polite and considerate as they drove and walked, giving way at appropriate moments. The process of gauging when to cross and when to wait for the cars came intuitively.
Throughout the city, I would soon start seeing volunteers who would spontaneously start directing traffic. Some of them would be born naturals. Others, like the Italian couple who blocked off traffic at both ends and were not letting anybody pass through as they tried to figure out what to do, would be gently humored public nuisances.
I started to see people popping out from the manholes in the ground. Later, my roommate would tell me she was one of the people who got stuck in a subway underground. It took her forty minutes to get outside. "It was hot and dark, there were children and old people, there were rats scurrying around in the dark. It was not fun," she summed up. "As soon as the lights went out, I knew it was going to be bad. I thought people would come in with AK-47s, shooting for Osama Bin Laden, or for Christ, or something equally stupid. People! Don't do anything stupid now, I thought."
Millions of commuters were caught in the city, with no means of transportation to get out. The ATM machines were dead. Even if they had money in their pockets, the taxis were charging outrageous amounts to get from one borough to another. Corporate men, dressed in their suits, spent the night in the parks. Tourists who left their possessions inside electronically locked hotel doors spent the night on the pavements.
A mile up, beneath the Empire State building, was the bus-stop. As I got there, I knew I was not getting a ride. The jam-packed buses were driving past the stops. A policeman was explaining to an older couple, "The lights are out in the tri-state areas." It sounded like the blackout was larger than it seemed. I started to walk home.
It took me five hours to get to Queens. Thousands of people, speaking multiple languages, laughed and chatted as they walked across Queensborough bridge, the women with high heels and straight backs, looking like they did this every single day. Dozens caught rides with pickup trucks, waving and cheering like a parade.
Halfway through Northern Boulevard, I saw a crowd holding orange sodas. A van with lettering that said Pakistan-American Friendship Council was parked on the side. What is that van doing out here, I wondered. Do they want to get beaten up? Muslims, and especially the Pakistanis, are the first to get attacked when something unpleasant and extraordinary happens in the US. The van, it turned out, was distributing sodas to the people walking home, a particularly smart PR move under the circumstances. "Yo man, this soda is warm!" a Latino man faked disgust as he drank it up.
At home, I found Matt, my roommate, had lit every single candle he had bought at the store. Having eight santa maria candles at full power on the hottest day in August didn't help. I suddenly realized that Matt had probably never spent a day of his life without electricity. The only other blackout was in 1977, and that had caused riots and looting, and had been an extraordinary event in the history of New York City.
"This happens all the time in Kathmandu, Matt," I say. He couldn't imagine what that must be like. "The lights are out up to the Mid-West, and up to Canada," he tells me. Matt, a jazz musician who spends a significant amount of his time listening to music, playing his saxophone with an electronic counter, playing games at his playstation, and checking his email, suddenly found out what a wired human being he really was. "The plug's been pulled out of my asshole, you know what I mean? What the hell am I going to do now?"
That question of a technology addicted culture suddenly unplugged was in evidence everywhere. At a deeper level was the realization of a culture's unhealthy dependence on just two sources of power: oil and electricity, and how the entire system can come to a complete halt with one simple moment of load-shedding. The US may be the most technologically adept country in the world, but it still has not figured out the basic law of sustainability - the nurturing of diversity, whether in seeds or crops or medicine or sources of power. Just as monoculture of one crop can be wiped out in an instant with one fungal infection, so too the functioning of a technological society can come to a halt with the shutting down of one powergrid.
The blackout of 2003 came to an end as thousands of engineers worked overtime to patch up the grid. The blackout of intelligence caused by the Bush administration will only end when the people of America react to the extent to which "Life has been hell!" in the United States and over the world with the takeover of this particular clique of hawkish individuals. War may boost the stocks of the defense industry, but it does nothing to boost the stocks of any other business in the world. Business, in the end, functions on trust, respect and negotiation - not by bombarding people who disagree "into the Stone Age". And while we are at it, its time to recognize that technologically sophisticated cultures have always underrated the strength of Stone Age cultures - specifically their abilities to withstand a power outage.
The United States fights a bitter and short-sighted war in the Middle East, spending billions on an occupation that hopes to be the ultimate grab for oil. The more smarter move would be to diversify power sources, and to upgrade to technologically sophisticated forms of power like hydrogen that will soon make oil and electricity look as obsolete as Windows 1.1.

04 September, 2003

Sushma Joshi, September 4, 2003, Kathmandu Post

Over many discussions with friends of Nepal who have chosen to live in America, I have come to the conclusion that one of the biggest differences between the two cultures is people's attitude towards success. More precisely, the celebration and acknowledgement of success. While Nepal might seem like a celebratory culture (all the badai you receive would make you think so), and yet the heart of it, we remain, surprisingly, a stubbornly goal-oriented culture, willing to acknowledge and praise only the most visible and socially sanctioned successes, never the process of reaching there.

When I talk about celebrating success, I am not just talking about the big ones: the First Division, the prestigious job, the rich husband and the beautiful wife, the healthy children, but also the smaller, day to day struggles that happen to us as we navigate through increasingly complicated work and social environments. For instance, after almost a decade in the US, I realized I had picked up the habit of saying: oh good or great! when someone finishes a small task, or accomplishes a tiny goal. This phrase, a small declaration of affirmation, still strikes one of my Nepali friends as a good joke, and he never lets up the opportunity to make fun of it.

And yet at the heart of that oh good!, which can seem superficial and overly bright to most Nepalis unused to thank yous and great jobs! is something perfectly and breathtakingly simple, and yet might contain the big secret of America's domination over the world: a simple acknowledgement of a job well-done. It is a small moment of celebration, passing as quickly as it happens, and yet upon all these small affirmations is built one of the greatest work cultures of the world. America is seen as a place where people can make money very fast, but this is not the only reason why people go there, or why people work so hard every single day. If money were the only criteria, the Middle East should be the biggest migration hotspot for people. But its not. People work for money, but they are also motivated to work for something far less tangible: the satisfaction derived from the recognition of a job well done.

Western culture looks towards the East for remedies to modernity: to reduce the stress of urban life, to integrating mind and body, to living a life that blends both spiritual and material elements in a harmonious whole. Due to the admiration and respect Western scholars have given to holistic knowledge from the East, most Easterners, including Nepalis, have come to take on a slightly superior attitude to what we have come to see as the materialistic excesses, the workaholic culture and the alienation of the West. But this, in the end, stops us from learning what we can about the many good things that Western culture has to offer. What we often pinpoint as lack or problems in our own culture - the disorganization of public life, the inability to share power and delegate responsibility, the lack of productivity and creativity, the corruption of public resources - is not a natural or cultural inevitability. When we look towards the West for inspiration, we should try not just to emulate their material successes, but also the processes through which they get there.

Perhaps by looking at the culture, we will recognize why somebody like Bill Gates, who build one of the biggest and most successful corporations in the world, had to be a product of America - not China, not India, not England. Bill Gates dropped out of college, but America does not have the stigma and shame of not following a socially sanctioned path that a Nepali boy would experience if he did the same thing. He was innovative and creative, again something almost unimaginable for an average Nepali child. Can you imagine which parent in Kathmandu would be happy if their son dropped out of a prestigious college and started tinkering with machines? He started his entrepreneurial venture from his garage. You can fill in the blanks for the hysteria and drama that a Nepali boy or girl would experience if they took over a middle class family's garage for their entrepreneurial venture. But this was nothing out of the way for an American child - America actively celebrates, indeed, glorifies, individuals who have built themselves up by starting out a tiny venture from their garage.

This ethic of pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, celebrated in America, remains a matter of shame for Nepalis. I meet plenty of Nepalis in America who work more than sixty hours every week, send their children to boarding schools in Kathmandu, build houses for their parents, support their brothers and sisters, send money to needy relatives - and yet will not admit that they work at restaurants or drive taxis because that would be a matter of dishonor for their families. In Nepal, the affirmation of success will come only when the house gets a new roof, or the relatives get their motorcycle. Remittances have now become Nepal's biggest source of foreign exchange, but do we hear any celebration, from the government or the people, of all that hard work?

In America, that land of instantaneous gratification, an individual working this hard is acknowledged moment to moment. A cabdriver's success - in negotiating traffic, dealing with a difficult customer, keeping his head in a torturous driving situation, finding the quickest possible route to the destination - is rewarded with a simple good job!. This is not the gushing and slightly insincere badai that hides envy, jealousy and competitiveness behind it. This is a good job! that comes straight from the heart. Yes, it is quick, and it is convenient - but it also means what it says. This is why this continues to remain a country that draws so many people from across the world - you can be a cab driver or gas station pump attendant, but you're doing an honest day's work with integrity, and you get acknowledged for it, not just financially but also socially.

Hopefully, when Nepali families who spend years here finally return home, that ability to affirm a job well done will be one of the things they carry back with them in their suitcase.