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Heifer Nepal's Communication and Networking Officer Puja Singh sends in this post from Kathmandu, where a six-day strike shut all businesses and schools under threat of violence from the Maoist Party, which demanded the prime minister and his coalition government step down. Read more about the strike here. We are relieved to hear our colleagues are now back at work though instability and economic effects of the strike continue. Read Puja's account of the strike below the photo, taken during the strike in Kathmandu.

Photo by Pravaran Mahat, Kathmandu, Nepal

Report by Puja Singh, Heifer Nepal

Once again Nepal is making world headlines for all the wrong reasons. The indefinite strike called by the Maoist Party commenced from May 2 and the country came to a screeching halt. The intention to coax the present government to resign amidst the pending constitution and other deadlines was a vulgar display of power and nothing else. Just another day in Nepali politics! This bandh (Nepali for strike) however saw less violence than expected. The general population was safe inside their homes except for a few incidents of innocent people caught amidst the riot police and the demonstrators. If the situation had been prolonged, there would have been a crisis of food material in the capital and many other cities. In the villages, farm produce was rotting and farmers dumped staggering quantities of rotting vegetables and milk, protesting the strike.

On May 7, after five days of bandh, a rally was organized; droves of people from different walks of life marched the streets demanding peace. The Maoists tried to attack them, too! The party has recently entered mainstream politics from being a rebel group and old habits die hard!! The next day they withdrew the strike temporarily.

The resilience of the Nepali people showed in the many ways they survived this ordeal. Past experiences have weathered us to roll with the punches and to keep our kitchen well stocked. But the fact remains that this tug of war for power needs to end.

I am reminded of some wise words from a wise one:

"... It is what we have hungered for

Not just the absence of war. But, true Peace.

A harmony of spirit, a comfort of courtesies.

Security for our beloveds and their beloveds ..."

Excerpts from Amazing Peace - A Christmas Poem by Maya Angelou.

Thank you for your prayers and concern. Being out of the house after six days feels like heaven! The country is back to work now. Everyone is in a rush to make up for lost time and get things done before it all starts again!!!

Puja Singh on her scooter in Kathmandu in November 2009


Donna Stokes

Donna Stokes is the managing editor of World Ark magazine. She has worked for Heifer International since September 2008 when she leaped over to the nonprofit world from a two-decade career in newspaper journalism.