Story of Parina Subba Limbu, Founder of Dristi Nepal
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What is Dristi Nepal ?
Women are fighting for their rights and respectful existence here. The situation for FDUs – (Female Drug Users) is critical and they continue to be neglected, and at risk of HIV and Hepatitis infection, violence and sexual exploitation. As former, female drug users, we want to contribute to changing this terrible state of affairs for vulnerable women in Nepal. http://www.dristinepal.org/portal/
I’m Parina Subba Limbu, the founder/director of Dristi Nepal. And this is what I have to say.
Life never directs you down an easy road. Any path you take ahead has its reasons behind it. Some make decisions in life based upon rational inferences while others opt to take the instinctive route. For me, the most important decision in my life came through my sheer commitment. And, trust me, trying to push yourself ahead leveraging on your own past sufferings and predicament is a draining endeavor. But, when honest dedication and deeply rooted passion are by your side, stubborn as it may sound, nothing seems impossible.
My journey to become an established women activist had a fairy tale start. The dire things that I witnessed during my youthful days, the chaotic atmosphere that surrounded me and the mental and physical trauma I went through had left me shattered and scarred. Under such circumstances, a bleak ray of hope and a vaguely ludicrous dream to achieve something for my fellow sisters who were dwelling on the downside of advantage, made me go the extra mile. To see such dreams make a miraculous conversion overwhelmed me to the fullest.
I wonder and still do about those things that made my friend/advisor Lee FitzGerald see something promising in me. The support and concern she showed back in those early days, helped me immensely while I carved out a proper shape to my noble aspirations. Jake Epperly and Ekta are the two other names that I vividly recall whose influences have always given me the zeal to work harder. My sincere gratitude is with you all.
Serving the treatment of drug use and HIV/AIDS in Nepal was considered a sin in those days. Social prejudice, lack of family support and career uncertainties hovered around you everywhere. My errand to uplift the life status of my fellow sisters facing problems related to substance abuse, domestic violence and peer pressure was bogged several times. My efforts and performance were closely scrutinized with every step that I took. People’s stereotypical judgments often slowed down my acceleration towards my work. However, against all odds, I never let my progress come to a complete halt. With the unconditional support from a few acquaintances and a spirited team, Dristi Nepal got the spark that it needed.
It’s often said that, to reach the top isn’t the toughest task but it's sustaining and retaining your spot. Establishing Dristi Nepal was definitely my dream come true, but I wanted to dream bigger. I wanted an organization to contribute to the social atmosphere in our nation. I wished to change people’s way of thinking towards drug use and HIV infected women. I wanted the mass population to realize the fact that women trapped under these pitfalls cannot be by any means termed as criminals. I hoped the society accepted this as an illness or even as a helpless compulsion for many women in the country. To accomplish these intrinsic desires, I needed to be strong, focused and motivated towards my field of work. To bounce back from the days of adversity and regain my stable composure, I had to become resilient, both emotionally and professionally. Now, after all these years, when I look back, I always get a complacent feeling that I managed to pull out all the required characters in me.
To be an activist wasn’t my innate tendency. In fact before being associated with Dristi Nepal, I didn’t know what activism was or what an activist had to do. But soon after undertaking the responsibility and accountability of an entire institution, thoughts related with women activism got connected to me. Eventually, it magnified to a whole new level. The prevailing dreadful scenario and lack of concern reflected by authoritative figures made me get into the line of activism. Meanwhile, at that time, the challenge ahead of me was to do justice to my dual role. I had to fill in the shoes, both as an activist and as a leader. According to my understanding, activism is more of an individualistic effort where one can constantly advocate for different issues irrespective of many constraints. Leadership is a collective approach that can only achieve success with open acceptance and support from team members. And to put forward an honest opinion, I’ve always considered myself as an activist more than anything else.
My story doesn’t end here. In fact, I believe this is my starting point. Seeing and feeling the sufferings and pain enforced upon women all across the country throughout the past decade, I know there is a lot that I need to contribute in the years to come. My own experiences in life have been my biggest strengths that drive me to move ahead. The amount of support and undying love that I’ve received from my fellow coworkers and well-wishers has given me the sense of wonderment and regeneration in my life.
My visions are the derivatives of my dream. Realizing this, I know I shouldn’t stop dreaming. Dristi Nepal has immeasurably helped me in achieving my dreams. I owe a lot to this institution. In my coming days, I long to establish a shelter home for all kind of women being traumatized by the wrath of stigma and discrimination in the society. To live in a ‘stigma and discrimination free’ society is in the top of my wish list.
My journey has just begun. Living on a dream.