Nimesh Ghimire ’15 is the recipient of a Davis Project for Peace Award that will allow him to direct, establish, and strengthen the recently launchedPeace Innovation Lab (PIL) at Shree Gyanodaya Higher Secondary School in Sahilitar, a rural village in western Nepal. The project also includes a weeklong Peace Innovation Camp.
The award will help build on the Peace Innovation Lab model and take it to its next level, according to Ghimire.
“The Peace Innovation Lab is a creative space for young people in rural communities to come together to design, prototype, and implement interesting projects that contribute to local peace-building and grassroots innovation efforts,” says Ghimire, who is collaborating with Mahabir Pun, winner of the Ramon Magasaysay Award (commonly called the Asian Nobel Prize), to set up a wireless internet network needed to establish the peace-building projects.
According to Ghimire, the PIL will strive to encourage continued participation in Nepali peace-building affairs and assist with the rebuilding of Nepal’s public education system. One of the outcomes of the weeklong Peace Innovation Camp is that the students will come up with at least five projects for implementation in their local village over the following months.
“During the decade-long civil war, a lot of young students in rural Nepali communities were directly involved,” Ghimere says. “After the active war ended in 2006, these young students have very little or no involvement in the peace building process. PIL’s vision is to engage young people into the peace building process and leverage their creative insight into solving local (peace building) challenges.”
Ghimire adds that a complicating factor is Nepal’s “broken” public education system. “There is too much focus on rote learning and not much emphasis on innovation, creativity, entrepreneurship and impact,” he says. “PIL’s vision is to promote itself as an innovation hub, integrated into the local public school, allowing young students to use the space as a place to create, tinker, explore, and connect.”
The Davis Projects for Peace awards more than $1.2 million in $10,000 grants to students who submit proposals for 2013 summer projects. The grant is named for philanthropist Kathryn W. Davis and funds projects that address conflict resolution and reconciliation, foster understanding, provide opportunity, and build community.
“This project will allow us to connect this rural corner of Nepal and the students to the global village,” Ghimiere says, “make different online resources available to the entire village as well as introduce a couple of revenue models – an internet cafe and a basic telemedicine hub – to generate some money for the Lab’s resource requirements. I want to help people launch some initiatives that will bring new energy and ideas to the prospects of peace in the world.”