Voluntarism in Jhumlawang


Academically, the word is understood as ‘religion’. However, in Jhumlawang, people use the word ‘dharma’ to mean ‘the good work’. It is specially used when the act is for greater good of the society and people.

These days, you can often hear village’s elders use a phrase “Dharma Garyachan!” They are using the phrase to express their joy and pride when they see new projects and programs in the village. Literally, the expression can be understood as ‘they have done good work’. Their pride outspreads as youths are getting more involved in volunteering for these projects.

Shyam Thapa, Sub-civil engineer, with Parshuram and Ajay
Shyam Thapa, Sub-civil engineer with Ajay and Parshuram

“Along with new projects and youths involvement in the village; voluntarism seems to be more organized and encouraging,” says Ram Bahadur Budha, Chairperson of JVF-Nepal.

Though new ways of voluntarism is being introduced in the village, the idea itself is not new to the society. In a small, closed society like Jhumlawang, the social voluntarism is of greatest need. Village people come together in almost every important events of life: in birth, in marriage, in death, in building houses, making roads, water taps, chautari and so on.

Voluntarism in Jhumlawang is generally done through ‘Jhara’. It is called for mainly in two different occasions; one is to assist individual and another is for the common purpose. Similar trend are being observed in volunteering. Generally, when calling for ‘jhara’, it is for everyone in the village (one member of the family is a must). But, recently, voluntarism is also done individually. The constant example has been the architect Ajay Magar.

Architect Ajay Magar in School Building Project
Architect Ajay Magar in School Building Project

Ajay, architect by profession, designer and supervisor of JVF-Nepal’s Community Health Center, Community Cultural Center and School Extension Project, has been spending long time supervising in the field. Recently, he was in Jhumlawang for 6 months, volunteering in the school project. His selfless act of serving the society has been highly admired. Among his admirers is Hom Jung Rana, Headmaster of Jhumlawang Primary School who likens him with the labourers of Dolpo.

“Not any Dolpo labour but the one who is most hardworking, most sincere, most dedicated and determined,” he emphasizes. Famous for using metaphors and similes, Rana’s comparison of Ajay to Dolpo laborer is wholly agreed upon by people who worked with him and people who saw him working.

“He worked more than anyone of us,” JVF-Nepal’s Field Co-ordinator Parshuram Budha seconds Rana, “He is a supervisor but he worked as a laborer, as a carpenter, as a collie, and what not!” He recalls working from 7 am to 7 pm, straight; sometimes.

“It is very difficult to keep up with him in work,” Laxman Budha, Field Sub-Engineer in the project says, “He gives his best and expects that from others as well.” Parshuram clarifies “Ajay believes in ‘If I do it, others will also do it’ motto.”

Jung Bahadur Kunwar, carpenter of the school project, says while it was a very demanding work, it was also a great learning experience for him and his team. “We knew only how to make square and triangle,” he states, “After working with him I have learned the possibilities of pentagon and even hexagon.”

Parshuram adds, “Ajay is an example for people who aspire to do something for their society.” He hopes slowly there will be more people who will follow his example in the village.

While individual voluntarism is a new trend in the village, group voluntarism has been of constant practice. Especially through Jhumlawang Youth Club (Laligurans Jana Yuva Club) group voluntarism has been prominent.

"United We Stand" ! Youth Members of Jhumlawang Youth Club
“United We Stand” ! Youth Members of Jhumlawang Youth Club

This year, youths spent 3 days for afforestation around the Jhumlawang Primary School. During Dashain, they collaborated with Jhumlawang Forest Committee in order to collect fund for upgrading school from Primary to Secondary level. Purna Gurung, a Youth Club member, was a Singaru (a dancer in a traditional dance Singaru which is only danced during Dashain). They collected Rs. 19,000 excluding the expenditure.

Again, in Tihar (Dipawali) – the festival of light, Youth Club led ‘Deusi-Bhailo’ program to collect financial support for school. Youths who had returned back to celebrate Dashain-Tihar joined the youths in village to go from house to house dancing, singing and making merriment while collecting ‘Daan-Dakshina’ (fund). In four days of Deusi-Bhailo they were able to collect the total of Rs 99,957.

“Through school we are working for our future,” Youth Club President Bhim Prasad Shrestha says, “Of course, wherever we are, we are coming together to work for betterment of our society, always.”

‘Deusi-Bhailo’ program to collect financial support for school
‘Deusi-Bhailo’ program to collect financial support for school

With time and the circumstances, Jhumlawangies have spread around the world; some in search of education, some in search of work and some in search of comfortable life. But, no matter where they are, through different means and medium they are coming together for betterment of the village. In their endeavor, like-minded organizations like Foghlaim, GRC Solidarity, Association Partages, and Association Humanitaire Partage et Soins have been supporting the community continuously.

Seeing new projects focused in education, health, culture and overall development of people in the village and full involvement of young generation along with assistance from different international organizations in these development works; it is no wonder older generation is full of joy and pride. However, their pride is not one sided. Well aware of elders’ contribution in establishing and sustaining school, acting as a bridge between generations to transfer traditional knowledge in the village, youths are equally grateful. And they say, ‘Dharma garyahun; gardaichhan!” – They did good work and they continue to do so!


Smita Magar,

Jhumlawang, Rukum

Nov 12, 2014


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