SO FAR FROM HOME: AN ORAL HISTORY OF NEPALI MIGRANTS
Voices of Nepali women migrants from the informal sector
This oral history and documentation initiative was an attempt to document the life stories of women migrants in the informal sector to look at how migration affects their daily lives, their families, communities and changing cultures.
Most migration studies focus on economic and social conditions, with little attention to the human face of the phenomenon: personal testimonies and the unique individual experiences of people; their memories and shifting identities. Memorialization is not only an individual’s personal experience but is also a compressed biography reflective of the community. Thus, oral history as a way of preserving and collecting memories and voices is apt to connect with the lives of Nepali migrants in India. The documentation of the life stories of these women migrants did not only give an identity and a voice to the workers and their families, it also contributed to a textual, audio and visual archive. The project, through its online portal and an exhibition, helped raise awareness on migration and migrants’ rights issues and gave them a platform to amplify their advocacy concerns and to link up more effectively amongst themselves. The participating migrant workers were those who have worked in India, are working in India, or who transit India on their way to overseas employment. The project was implemented in Kathmandu and migrants’ home districts in Nepal, and Mumbai & Bengaluru in India. A total of 30 interviews were conducted; 15 interviews in Nepal and 15 in India.
The project was implemented by The Hri Institute for Southasian Research and Exchange in the context of DanChurchAid’s (DCA) Migrants’ Rights Programme in South and Southeast Asia, with implementation support from WOREC, POURAKHI, and Madan Puraskar Pustakalaya (MPP) with funding support from DCA and Stichting Rotterdam. Research and interviews were conducted by Sarita Ramamoorthy and Laxmi Murthy, who also took the photographs. Nivida Lamichhane translated the material from Nepali into English. The exhibition was curated by the Hri Institute for Southasian Research and Exchange with the Madan Puraskar Pustakalaya, the panels were designed by Dibesh Man Maskey.
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