The following story was contributed by Riya Basnet:
Nisha Niraula and I recently visited schools in Nepal to find blind students for our braille book distribution. Through this project we developed a way of teaching children about their individuality by portraying simple daily life examples and highlighting the importance of academic freedom. A great tool for doing this is by a simplified Nepali version of the book The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible.
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Riya Basnet & Nisha Niraula
We found blind and deaf students at Save Our Soul School and at a women and girl’s hostel in Kathmandu. Others were found through an association of the blind in Pokhara and Dharan, where we can distribute books and offer lessons about liberty. So far the project has been going great!
In one session we took up Chapter 6, “Best Laid Plans,” to demonstrate the linkage of individual rights to the current scenario in Nepal where the homes of hundreds of people are destroyed and people are left homeless. Through this we discovered some children whose families have been the victims of government plans. We give them an opportunity to tell us how their families have fared after such harsh treatment.
We have asked the teachers to collect the students’ notes about their feelings when they see such situations happen. I plan to collect the student essays and share them in Nepali and English.
We also demonstrated how force can lead to evil effects. We called on two students and asked one to be a big fat man and another to be a thin man. We asked the big fat guy to snatch things from the thin one and we asked the class, “How does the situation feel to your eyes and to your heart?” We discussed about rights, happiness, and freedom to hold one’s own things and how force is a bad thing. This is our approach and it is working!
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Nisha Niraula & Riya Basnet
Responses from the children have sometimes been heartbreaking. One student was reminded of a recurring nightmare that he experienced every night in relation to the tragedy that befell his family. Similarly another student described the ordeal of his family as hard working ants that were being crushed by brutal boots.
Other students thought it was fun and entertaining to see how the bulldozer could destroy houses so quickly. One evening the house was there standing erect and the next morning it was gone. It was like magic!
Yet the student next to him hated the authorities for making their mother cry. Many students wanted to become superheroes to destroy the machines that crushed their homes.
It personally felt so rewarding to read the responses of children who said we demonstrated to the class that the pain coming from force never leads to good.
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Riya Basnet
The teachers were also really interested in our approach to educating students and with making students aware of the way our community has been run. The teachers have asked us to visit their schools once in awhile with such activities.
We are hoping this works with other schools as well. I’m very hopeful that this is going to work with the children and in due time we will come up with some more ideas of educating children and widening their educational spectrum.
Nisha Niraula is local coordinator for Students for Liberty of South Asia who assisted Riya Basnet in the project to publish and distribute the braille Nepali and English editions of The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible: A Free Market Odyssey, by Ken Schoolland. Riya is creator of the braille project, founder and member of the Executive Board of the Students for Liberty of South Asia, and founder of Asian Women for Liberty (AWL). AWL is an organization in rural Nepal that works to promote entrepreneurship and economic freedom where women are excluded from legal rights.
Riya Basnet is currently founding a microbank to serve women who have been excluded from normal economic activity because they are prohibited from holding property and national identity cards. She is also the Goodwill Ambassador at Rakshya Nepal, an organization that works to advocate for legal status of women who freely choose to earn a living in the business of sexual services.

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