Remarks by Hon’ble Pradeep Kumar Gyawali, Minister for Foreign Affairs at a ceremony to handover “Wheelchairs of Hope”

Remarks by Hon’ble Pradeep Kumar Gyawali, Minister for Foreign Affairs at a ceremony to handover “Wheelchairs of Hope” organised by the Embassy of Israel in Kathmandu together with Lions Club of Kathmandu Capital District 325-A2 and Karuna Foundation Nepal.
17 July 2018 in Kathmandu.

H.E. Mr. Benny Omer, Ambassador of Israel to Nepal
Mr. Govinda P. Adhikari, Chairperson of Karuna Foundation Nepal
Dr.Bhagawan Koirala ,Vice Chairperson of Karuna Foundation Nepal
Lion Sudarshan Dhar Pradhananga, District Governor, Lions Club of Kathmandu Capital District 325-A2
Beloved children with disabilities present on this occasion
Distinguished Friends
Ladies and Gentlemen

I am really delighted to attend this ceremony on the handover of the Israeli “Wheel Chairs of Hope”being organised by the Embassy of Israel in Kathmandu together with Lions Club of Kathmandu Capital District 325-A2 and Karuna Foundation Nepal to mark the 70 Years of Independence of the State of Israel. On this occasion, on behalf of the Government of Nepal, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as on my own, I would like to extend by heartiest congratulations to the Government and the people of the State of Israel and wish for continued peace and progress of the people of the State of Israel.

The six-decades of partnership and cooperation between Nepal and Israel has been immensely fruitful and productive in the development efforts of Nepal. I feel glad to note that Nepal was the first country in South Asia to have the diplomatic relations with the State of Israel. Over the years, our bilateral engagements and cooperation have been growing incessantly with renewed strength every year which ultimately is in the interest of our two countries and people.  The exchange of high level visits between the two countries beginning from 1960s and mutually beneficial cooperative relations in the diverse fields including agriculture and irrigation, human resource development, science and technology, tourism and civil aviation and foreign employment   have brought our two countries and people closer to each other.

Let me take this opportunity to restate that Government and the people of Nepal highly regard the humanitarian support and solidarity extended by the Government and people of the State of Israel during the devastating earthquakes in April 2015. We had received a humanitarian mission of over 250 Doctors, much needed for rescue and relief operations, sent immediately after the earthquake by the Government of Israel.

After my assumption of office as the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Nepal, we made an arrangement for hosting the First meeting of the Bilateral Consultation Mechanism (BCM) between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the two friendly countries in Kathmandu in March 2018 at the senior officer’s level.  Matters of bilateral and mutual interests were thoroughly discussed on that occasion. Following the BCM meeting in Nepal, there has also been a ministerial level visit to Israel in the recent past.

I would like to appreciate Your Excellency the Ambassador and the Embassy of Israel in Kathmandu for coming up with this idea of supporting the children with disabilities in Nepal and co- organizing this event to that effect. I take this event as a symbolic gesture of empathy and support to our children. I would also like to congratulate the other two co- organisers- the Lions Club of Kathmandu Capital District 325-A and the Karuna Foundation Nepal for the initiatives you have taken for addressing the concerns of the children with disabilities in Nepal. I am sure the ‘’Wheelchairs of Hope” will bring about a new ray of hope and aspiration to our young children with disabilities for realizing their full potential in the society they are living in. The philanthropic activities of this kind do matter significantly when it comes to changing the future of our children who need additional support. In that sense this is an exemplary initiative on the part of the organisers.

I have a firm belief that everyone is born with a unique and special ability. Physical disability cannot and should not be a permanent obstacle to the progress and development of our children in their lives. It is essential that the government agencies, private sector, civil society, academia and all other segments of society work hand in hand to change social attitude towards disability and ensure favourable environment for all round development of our children with disabilities. We need to create conditions in which they are entitled special opportunities and facilities so that they can reach their full potential. Their voices need to be heard and their rights need to be ensured in the society.

It goes without saying that our future rests on the hands of our children. The government of Nepal, realising this fact,is fully committed to increase the access of our children with disabilities to education, medical services and skill development activities. Decade-long conflict, inadequate physical infrastructure causing serious accidents and lack of enough health facility is contributing to add on the problem. Our objective is to make sure that disability stops being a perennial source of pain and suffering. There are ample examples in which children with disabilities through their persistent efforts, hard work, and perseverance have brought remarkable changes to their societies by the time they reached their adulthood.Children,however, need support and protection to set such examples.I am confident that our policies and programmes, our strong desire and commitment coupled with revolutionary changes brought about by science and technology would herald a new dawn in the lives of the children with disabilities in the time to come.

The Constitution of Nepal has enshrined the right to equality and non-discrimination as fundamental rights of all citizens.The Government of Nepal adopted various schemes and programmes that include social security allowance, Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR), and reservation quotas to enable persons with disability live with dignity and honour in community. The Government has been making efforts to increase enrollment of children with disabilities in school with the provision of different types of scholarships and incentives.The Coordinating efforts by government, civil societies community and the concerning family are extremely important.

At the moment near about 77000 children with disabilities have been enrolled in school education system out of which about 65000 children with disability are in basic education school (Grade 1 to 8).

Before I conclude, I would once again like to extend my sincere thanks to the Embassy of Israel in Kathmandu for materialising this event today and providing me this opportunity to be part of a noble cause as the Chief Guest. Being a father of the daughter with physical and mental disability, I feel emotionally attached to such programmes and community. Let me reiterate that the event today is the reflection of the subsistingstrong bond of friendship,understanding and cooperation between Nepal and the State of Israel which have been growing steadily towards the mutual satisfaction of our two countries. My sincere appreciation also goes to two other organisers- the Lions Club of Kathmandu Capital District 325 -A2 and Karuna Foundation Nepal.

Finally, let me express my hope that this is not the end of journey of philanthropic activities that benefit our children with disabilities. I look forward to be part of many more initiatives like this in the future.

I thank you all.