PA Nepal was established in 2000 by Indira Ranamagar. This was inspired by the prisoner welfare work started by renowned writer and human rights activist Parijat (also known as Bishnu Kumari Waiba) in the early 1990s. Throughout the years, PA Nepal has grown into a well established NGO that provides education, skills training and rehabilitation for some of the most vulnerable groups (women, children, socially ostracized and those mentally unwell) while advocating for their basic human rights.
Indira Ranamagar was born into a poor and landless family. Growing up in eastern Nepal she faced discrimination in many forms. As was often the case for women, Indira’s brothers were given the opportunity to study whereas she was given the responsibility of housework. However, during her youth Indira became greatly inspired by the works of renowned Nepalese writer and human rights activist, Parijat. Indira joined Parijat’s ‘Prisoners Assistance Mission’ and worked with her until her death in 1993.
At this time, most organisations, including Parijat’s, were focused on the plight of political prisoners in Nepal. Indira identified another area of need though in prisoners who had children and after rescusing several children from the destitute prison environement and caring for them in her home or asking other organizations to care for them, she established an organization to work with prisoners and their families, Prisoners Assistance Nepal.
Indira’s story in her own words:
“I was born into a poor family in a poor village in eastern Nepal. I did not get the opportunity to go to school and if things had developed in the usual way I would have remained uneducated and would still be living in my small village. But I was determined to learn and to get an education. My brothers taught me to read and write using sticks to write in the dirt outside my home.
I combined learning with household and farm chores and in the end I succeeded. I made it to my village school and topped my class and later managed to continue my education in a nearby town. This was a tough thing to do because I had to break from my village community and stand alone and this was something that was not encouraged at the time. But my determination saw me through and all the time I was combining studies with domestic work to earn enough money to keep going.
I became a school teacher and later started literacy classes for women in the village. But I was still restless and wanted to improve myself and go beyond the limitations of local life. It was a time of political upheaval when I decided to travel to Kathmandu and begin a new life committed to social work. It was in Kathmandu that I met and began to work with Parijat, the renowned writer and human rights activist. I started to work in jails with Parijat and it was then that I saw the work that needed to be done. Parijat’s main concern was for political prisoners but I became more concerned with the most vulnerable in jail. And so my work has continued and the determination of the small child learning her alphabet in the dust still burns bright in my heart. It is a light that has seen me through many difficulties and trials and it will continue to do so in the future. It has meant that I have been able to work with the most vulnerable and desperate and I have been able to give them hope and assistance.”