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A New Year Gift To Mushar

Issue April 2017

A New Year Gift To Mushar

Siddhi B Ranjitkar


The Maha couple publicly transferred the 53 houses: 50 to the Mushar community and three to others the Dhurmus-Suntali foundation has built at the Mushar area in Bardibas of the Mahotari district in terai during the last three months at the cost of more than NPR 50 million after the quakes destroyed everything Mushar community owned, as a New Year gift on April 14, 2017 (one of the New Years in Nepal). For the Mushar, Dhurmus and Suntali have been the god-sent humans, as the living standard of the Mushar community instantly went up to almost the middle class Nepalese after every Mushar family received a house worth of a million NPR. Thanks to the quakes in 2015, the Mushar community has such a windfall benefit.


Dhurmus-Suntali is a comedian couple of Sitaram Katel (husband) and Kunjana Ghimire (wife). This couple has been the celebrity comedians and popular very much on Nepalese TV shows. These two people are very energetic and willing to do everything possible for the disadvantage people. Dhurmus even carried the backload of bricks on a bamboo basket while building a model-integrated settlement at Kinranchok in Kavre. However, they have successfully continued the comedian business, too at the same time.


A year ago, Dhurmus (Sitaram Katel) and his colleagues have been involved in cleaning up the highway in terai. Cleaning up the highway on the way when they reached the Bardibas area, they have an interaction with the local people. At that time, a young reporter with the family name of Mahato described the very miserable conditions of the people in the Mushar community. Mahato has been writing the stories about the poor communities in terai.


Mahato took Dhurmus and his colleagues to the Mushar community. Mushar hardly spoke Nepali language; their mother tongue is Maithili. Children were playing with pigs and some of them were sleeping in the pigpen. None of the children went to school. Men went to work while female took care of the household, and went to work as maids, and collected fuel wood and sold it at the local market for the living. After a day’s work, men usually came back home drunk. They spent most of the day’s earnings on alcohol. Women did not lag behind men in drinking. Thus, every family member except for children was addicted to drinking alcohol.


Children, women, and men went to search for the field mice after the rice harvest. They knew that mice get fattened after the rice harvest. They eat the mice, as delicacies either because of the poverty or the mice are really tasty. So, they came to be known as Mushar means mice-eating people. Historically, they were untouchable and the most disadvantage people in Nepal.


Seeing the incredibly low living conditions of the Mushar, Dhurmus went with some quake-relief supplies to them. He provided them with blankets, warm clothing, and other basic needs. Mushar thought that this man is actually a god-sent. None had attempted to do anything for them in the past. So, they thought that the god must have graciously sent this man called Dhurmus to help them after the quakes destroyed whatever small things they had.


After completing the integrated settlement Dhurmus built at Kiranchok in Kavre for the quake victims with the donations received from the generous people, Dhurmus thought that he would build a similar integrated settlement area for the Mushar in Bardibas. Dhurmus has already some experiences in managing the construction of an integrated settlement for the quake victims.


As his venture at Kiranchok was a great success, some people suggested Dhurmus to have an official entity to do similar philanthropic tasks in the future. Dhurmus set up a Dhurmus-Suntali foundation before going to build houses for the Mushar. For building a new settlement for the Mushar community in Bardibas, the foundation has received more than NPR 60 million from the Nepalese and foreign donors. The foundation has no problem of mobilizing the resources because of the sincerity Dhurmus and Suntali have shown for doing something for the quake victims at Kiranchok. His sincerity, generosity, and capacity have been already demonstrated in constructing a model settlement for the quake victims in Kiranchok.


The foundation spent slightly more than NPR 50 million on building 53 houses, a community house, children playground, and a small temple to the ancestral deity of Mushar, a compound wall fencing 50 houses, water supply, power supply, and a concrete path around, and a view tower; and three houses outside the Mushar compound with the labor input of the Mushar community. The foundation has received more than NPR 60 million.


Each house is built on about 1,400 square feet. Each house is of two-storey. Ground flour has four rooms and two open rooms on the first floor. If a family has a large number of members then the family could partition the upper rooms making more rooms for the family. Each house is made of bricks and concrete, and with a tin roof.


Each house has a power connection and water connection, and a toilet. Two trees were planted in front of each house. When the trees would grow to the maturity, they would add beauty to the houses, and contribute to the better environment cleaning the air.


With the help of the Dhurmus-Suntali foundation, the Mushar community set up a Users’ Committee to maintain the community settlement, water supply system, and power connection. The view tower would be the income-generating means to this end. Anybody visiting the area would pay for going up the view tower and viewing the area. It would be a visitors’ attraction.


Nepal Academy of Science and Technology is trying to figure out planning income-generating activities for improving the lives of the Mushar community. Pig farming and other livestock farming might be the most appropriate businesses for the community.


Mushar children have started off going to the nearby school. So, the coming generation would be educated and they could perform better in the lives. The current generation could enjoy the life living in the most beautiful houses the Dhurmus-Suntali foundation has built for them. The houses are probably above the medium middle class houses in Nepal.


If we divide the total money spent on building the community settlement by the number of houses setting aside the view tower, community house, a temple and a children playground then each house will be of 50 million /53 houses = NPR 943,396. So, the houses are built very cost effectively. Of course, it does not include the value of the labor of the members of the Mushar community went to build the community settlement.


Each Mushar family became the owner of a house worth of almost a million Nepalese rupees. So, each family almost instantly became the low-income middle class after the comedian couple Maha (Madan Krishna Shrestha and Haribansha Acharya) handed out the houses to the Mushar community members. Then, why not they dance after receiving the houses.


Thanks to the quakes in 2015, the fate of the Mushar community has changed for a better. If the quakes have not destroyed the houses, and a reporter Mahato has not taken Dhurmus to the community, donors have not so generously donated their money, and the Dhurmus-Suntali foundation has not been so active to help the Mushar community to build their lives back to normal, the Musher would have never seen such a beautiful house for every family of the community.


Now, Musher could live humanely. One thing they have to do is to build up their future on whatever the Dhurmus-Suntali foundation has built for them. They need to spend the earnings wisely rather than on boozing. Then, surely, they could live more comfortably, honorably and certainly humanely than the previous generations had lived in the past. Surely, the quakes have changed their destiny to the fantastically better.


The New Year has brought a new gift to the Mushar. It is the life-changing gift for the Mushar. I hope the Mushar will keep the gift for themselves and for the future generation building even more beautiful houses.


Dhurmus and Suntali have the divine spirit. That is why they could do such a challenging and remarkable job with so ease, and with confidence. I hope the divine spirit will lead the couple to do more such philanthropic deeds in the coming years.


Every person has a one life to live. Doing well to all, everybody could enjoy the life better.


Dhurmus and Suntali deserve the highest State recognition. Let us see what the State would award them appropriately for the terrific jobs they have done. All generous donors that have donated to the Dhurmus-Suntali foundation for building the modern Mushar settlement deserve appreciation, too.


This write-up is based on the information Dhurmus has provided while speaking to the anchor of the ‘antar-sambad’ of the Radio Nepal morning program on April 15, 2017.


April 15, 2017

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