2014 Humanitarian Hero Dipina Sharma Rawal

DUTY STATION:  Nepal
POSITION:  Program Associate

“I chose to develop a career in the humanitarian sector to help communities develop resilience to disasters and help survivors of human or natural disasters.” 

WHY DID YOU BECOME A HUMANITARIAN WORKER OR VOLUNTEER?

The ten year long armed conflict in Nepal devastated thousands of lives and properties. Watching the effects of conflict from so close always inspired me to do something for these conflict survivors right from the time I was a teen. Amidst all this, I lost a good friend of mine, who was also my neighbour during 2004 Tsunami in Phuket. 

After this devastating incident, I chose to develop a career in the humanitarian sector to help communities develop resilience to disasters and help survivors of human or natural disasters. Curiosity led to interest, interest today has reached compulsive heights and here I stand as a humanitarian actor/worker helping the conflict survivors of Nepal.

WHAT'S THE MOST REWARDING PART OF YOUR WORK?

I have the opportunity to help people in a small way which makes my job very rewarding. I have come across many conflict survivors who have benefited from the work my organisation does and as a result find new reasons to live a happier life. This is very rewarding, its blissful and the reason why I go to work every day. 

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE MORE CHALLENGING ASPECTS OF YOUR WORK?

The work that I do is either directly or indirectly linked with the conflict survivors and human rights violations. My job requires me to consider conflict sensitivity, gender sensitivity, a human rights based approach and a participatory approach. It becomes very challenging to incorporate all these aspects. 

TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE WORK YOU DO? 

Currently, I am working on Catalytic Support on Land Issue project, a joint project of IOM, UNDP and UN Habitat. Being a part of the project, I am bridging voices of members of the local community in the districts, who are landless (including the ones who became IDPs during the armed conflict) and are fighting to get back property that is rightfully theirs. 

My work mostly involves documenting different land related issues, including post conflict land and property seizure cases. I am also responsible for developing training modules on dispute resolution, mediation and reconciliation to enhance the capacity of land officers to promote peace- building activities and reconciliation among different stakeholders

WHAT IS THE MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT YOU’VE EXPERIENCED DURING YOUR WORK? 

During one of my field trips to Nawalparasi, a district in the western region of Nepal, I ran into a female conflict survivor who had been widowed during the insurgency. After talking to her, I realized that she was unaware of the Government’s interim relief packages. She’s been struggling to make ends meet and had no idea that the government was giving out such relief packages. I took her to the Local Peace Committee office, established in the district to assist conflict survivors gather necessary supporting documents to submit an application to help access interim relief package of the government. 

After a year I went back to the district again. I visited her was pleasantly surprised that she had received a relief package. At the same time, her children were studying under scholarships funded by the government. She was much happier and content. She came running towards me, hugged me and thanked me for helping her that day. She instantly served her “best cup of tea”. We enjoyed a long heart to heart conversation. The relief that she experienced made me feel very proud of the work that I am doing. Today she is a young female entrepreneur.