TEDx Gateway aims to change lives., world

When Pushpa Basnet was just 21 and studying in college, she visited a women’s prison in Kathmandu as part of her assignment. Pushpa was appalled when she saw many prisoners accompanied by their children in their cells.


Nithin Belle

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Published: Tue 17 Dec 2013, 12:30 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 3:22 PM

The Kathmandu resident went back home and decided to do something about it. She raised money and in 2005 along with some friends set up a non-profit, the Early Childhood Development Centre to provide day-care to children of women prisoners in the Nepali capital. Two years later, she opened a home for the kids to live outside the prison.

“We look after more than 150 children at the residential home,” Pushpa, who is in Mumbai, tells Khaleej Times. “Their mothers are in 22 prisons. We also look after 45 children at the day-care centre.”

Last year, Pushpa was given the CNN Hero award at a function in Los Angeles, with actor Susan Sarandon presenting it to her. A 40-minute documentary, Waiting for Mamu, has also been released recently, featuring her.

It tells the story of all the ‘prison’ children, who are now living in Pushpa’s special home.

“The documentary has brought a lot of awareness and it is being screened in schools and colleges,” remarks Pushpa. Asked whether the political instability in her country has affected her work, the activist says in the beginning she found it difficult to involve politicians. But now they understand and appreciate her work.

Last year, Pushpa was also invited by Kiran Bedi, who has also worked for the welfare of women inmates at Delhi’s Tihar jail — the police office was once the inspector-general of the sprawling jail in the national capital — to consider coordinating with her agency.

Pushpa, along with several other international personalities, addressed a TEDxGateway event here last week. “It is one of the best platforms for young people from around the world to share their experiences,” says Pushpa. “It also helps us in networking with other young activists.”

TEDxGateway brings some of the brightest minds from around the globe on a single platform, where they share their inspiring stories and help facilitate other innovative ideas.

The event featured more than two-dozen speakers including Pushpa. It also saw the launch of the TEDxGateway Fellows programme in India. The programme targets individuals from the Asia-Pacific region and gives them a chance to showcase their ideas to diverse audiences in a shorter format of five-minute talks.

“We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and, ultimately, the world,” remarks Yashraj Akashi, ambassador, TEDx India and curator TEDxGateway.

“We are building a clearinghouse of free knowledge from the world’s most inspired thinkers, and also a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other.” — nithin@khaleejtimes.com

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