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Pokhara prison visit

April 6, 2010

Mark and I were fortunate enough to be able to accompany Indira into one of the most progressive prisons in Nepal.  Located in Pokhara, it is a showpiece for what is possible in Nepali prisons.

Pokhara prison gates | photo: Erica Køhn

Indira has been working with them for years.   As the Director of National Project Consultant Committee of the Department of Prison Management, and alongside three other dedicated colleagues, she has supported the prison in implementing yoga and meditation programs, helping with the prison infrastructure including access to clean water, encouraged opportunities for skills training and greater health and sustainability through food production.

Nepali corn under cultivation on the Pokhara prison grounds | photo: Erica Køhn

The prison houses both men and women as well as five children.

mother and child behind bars | photo: Mark Vonesch

We met with the women and shared many pounds of fruit with them.  Later, upon their request, Indira returned with a sewing machine and a DVD player (we all need a bit of entertainment).

Limited by the small prison space, they have expanded some of their activities into the courtyard, still bound by razor wire, but green and more spacious.  Here they farm Maize and other food crops, have a woodworking shop, cultivate mushrooms and have a green space for the older children of the inmates to play. This move took long negotiations, and a lot of trust on the part of the prison but has raised the standards of living immensely for everyone involved.

There is a human dignity in this prison that has been lacking at some of the other prisons I have seen in Nepal.  It is truly impressive.

the prison woodworking shop in the courtyard | photo: Erica Køhn

Indira shows off some beautiful oyster mushrooms | photo: Erica Køhn

these babies sell for 120 Rs per lb | photo: Erica Køhn

hanging in the courtyard in front of the prison entrance | photo: Erica Køhn

full of fun... boys in the courtyard | photo: Erica Køhn

gates to the cells | photo: Mark Vonesch

razor wire in the greenery | photo: Erica Køhn

Thanks go to Indira, her colleagues, the prison authorities and guards and inmates for working so well together.

Change is possible.  Hope is essential.
:)

erica.

Please leave comments by clicking on the comment link at the top of each blog.  You can view comments there too!

Next up: the older PA Nepal boys at Palpa.

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17 Comments leave one →
  1. amrita permalink
    August 30, 2010 4:15 pm

    it really feels good to hear that now even prisons are given human rights in our county to some extent.. though they have committed some crime but we need to provide them an positive environment in the prison of that they can forget there past and see life in a positive aspect and later become productive member of the society them go back in to the darkness again…

  2. Philippa Squire permalink
    August 5, 2011 12:28 am

    Good for you Erica and Indira for your great work here. It is so refreshing to see a prison in a developing country that is humane and cares for their prisoners in a dignified way. Even though people have committed a crime, they still deserve to be treated as equals and have access to basic human rights facilities such as clean water, nutricious food and education. Keep up the good work!

    • July 20, 2012 8:50 pm

      I can’t take credit for this work, Philippa, but Indira certainly can. She is a tireless advocate through Prisoners Assistance Nepal (http://panepal.org). The work she does in the prisons is only the beginning. Her work with the children who have been rescued from the prisons is life altering.

      • michel permalink
        August 31, 2015 8:31 am

        my nepalese “sister” Binda Adhikari is in jail with her little daughter Baishnu,how can i get news of them,are visits allowed?
        how can i help them?
        thanks for your job!
        my name is michel from france

      • September 1, 2015 6:58 am

        Hi Micheal,
        I am sorry to hear you have a loved one in prison with her daughter. I am living in Canada again, so I am not up to date with the latest information on the prisons, but I have asked a friend what she would advise. I will let you know what I find out.
        Kindly,
        Erica

      • michel permalink
        September 1, 2015 7:58 am

        thanks a lot erika

  3. Marcia Smith permalink
    November 15, 2012 8:44 pm

    my son is in jail in nepal. he is from the united states but has a nepali wife and son in pokhara. i am very worried. he is mentally ill. i do not know what jail he is in. i fear for him.

    • November 15, 2012 9:13 pm

      Hi Marcia,

      It sounds like a hard situation your son is in. I would contact the American Consulate to have them help you locate your son, or have his wife do it. You may be able to arrange a visit with him (once you locate him). Then you can assess how you can best support him. The prison guards/prisons are chronically under funded, but they are not unkind.

      I have not met any westerners in the prisons I visited, but I also visited the prisons 3-4 years ago.
      I wish you the best of luck.
      Kindly, Erica

  4. November 30, 2012 1:09 pm

    Dear Erica Thank you so much beautiful artile , just for correction , i am working for children and prisoners since 22 years , and NCPD is just Net work organizations , we went joint program that year but PA Nepal , We are working for children , prisoners and and their dependents since many years .and myself ..I have been doing this when I was 17th years old.
    Indira Ranamagar

    • December 1, 2012 5:40 am

      Hi Indira,

      It is so nice to hear from you!

      Thanks so much for clarifying your work. It is so amazing that you have been doing this work since you are 17. You are a tireless woman doing amazing work in the world. I can’t say enough good things about what you do with P.A. Nepal.

      Please feel free to comment or add to any thing I have said here. Also, and updates are exciting too.

      with love and light,
      Erica

  5. peter permalink
    February 1, 2014 10:06 am

    I have seen the place unfortunately. Maybe you should update your website. Pokhara prison is one of the worst and crowded prisons in Nepal. Living conditions are medieval.

    • June 16, 2017 6:44 am

      I have not been there since the visit I wrote about, but I am saddened to hear that has gotten worse.

  6. December 23, 2014 1:17 pm

    Hi,

    I am really interested in what I read! I am actually in Pokhara and would love to do a photo report in that prison.

    Could I have your email address please.

    Thanks,

    Charles.

  7. June 25, 2016 9:09 pm

    Bonjour Michel,

    J’ai des nouvelles de Binda et de sa fille.

    Merci de me communiquer ton email que je puisse te donner les informations,
    Amicalement,

    Nelly

    • michel permalink
      June 16, 2017 6:57 am

      bonjour nelly
      voici mon mail sentaraille@hotmail.com
      merci par avance pour les nouvelles de binda et sa fille
      bious à bientot et encore merci

  8. sameer bhatta permalink
    June 12, 2017 3:56 am

    can i get the exact location of this jail. I have my brother at that jail. I want to visit him but i don’t know the location of that jail.Please help me !!!!!!!!!

    • June 16, 2017 6:38 am

      Sameer, I am so sorry, we had a driver so I do not know the exact location. Have you called the police in Pokhara? Surely they could give you directions.

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