Like the Happy Laos project, this is a post out of order to support a worthy cause and celebrate and amazing person I met.
I met Suvani Singh last week here in Kathmandu. She’s the friend of a friend, but the world is a small place and I’m lucky to have been able to meet her.
Her passion is literature. She studied it, she owned a book store, and she started the Kathmandu Literary Festival (Jatra).
This year will be the second year, and it’s going to be even bigger than last year’s festival. It’ll happen at the end of November, and when I met Suvani last week she was swamped with planning and organizing.
Her apartment had transformed into an art studio as hired designers and painters made the banner that’ll adorn the stage. Learning from past shortsightedness, she realized that for the same cost as last year’s single-use banner, she could make one that can be used several times while giving work to the local artists and painters. It’s one of the many improvements she’s incorporated after last year’s festival.
When I asked her what got her interested in starting Nepal’s first literary festival, especially given the mega festivals regional heavyweight India hosts every year, she says it was to bring reading and literature to the forefront in Nepal. She went on that many students enter universities here without ever having read a novel.
That second point, the lack of a literary culture and lack of emphasis in schools, prompted Suvani to start an organization here that trains teachers how to teach literature, and works with students to open up the world of literature to them – particularly young students.
Hugely inspirational, and the perfect example of someone exemplifying my theory that to change the world one need only change his or her community, Suvani shows that matching one’s passion with determination allows you to accomplish anything. And though her literary efforts are in its infancy now, I’m sure successive generations of unborn Nepalese children are already thankful for what she is doing now.