Born into Burden

Mar 26, 2011
*Special to asia!

In a country beset by innumerable social and environmental trials, a handful of perceptive individuals in Nepal are invoking behavioural change through the guardianship of some of society's most peripheral members.

According to social cognitive theory, behavioural change is determined by environmental, personal, and behavioural elements. Each factor affects each of the others. For example, in congruence with the principles of self-efficacy, an individuals’ thoughts affect their behaviour and an individuals’ characteristics elicit certain responses from the social environment. Likewise, an individuals’ environment affects the development of personal characteristics as well as the person's behaviour, and an individuals’ behaviour may change their environment as well as the way the individual thinks or feels. Social learning theory focuses on the reciprocal interactions between these factors, which are hypothesised to determine behavioural change.

Animal Nepal is also engaged in educating and forming partnerships with the owners of brick kilns that continue to use children and animals for work. One success story emerged in 2010 when a brick kiln owner in Kathmandu’s Lalitpur district became the first in the valley to manufacture “green bricks” that are made without child or animal labour. Indra Tuladhar, who owns Bungamati Brick Factory in Lalitpur, used to employ donkeys when he began his business in 2009. Through a patnership with Animal Nepal, he was able to perceive the unfavourable conditions of his working animals and child laborers, and hence the desire for a factory without any form of suffering. Through research and with a will, he identified technology that could replace not only the animals, but help reduce the number of staff he needed by nearly 90 percent. The quality of his bricks was also improved. Cutting down the number of people, and cutting out the presence of animals also meant that sanitation and hygiene standards improved immediately. Improving the efficiency of his factory also reduced his environmental impact. 

Through working with animals, Animal Nepal’s staff and volunteers are reforming the way we treat others in our society and how we perceive our environment; even if this may not be apparent to the casual on-looker.

The interrelationship between the provision of protection for society’s slightest members and a nation’s integrity has been recognised since the time of Aristotle and was reiterated by Mahatma Ghandi, who said that “you can judge a nation by the way it treats its most vulnerable citizens."

In a similar train of thought, Cardinal Roger Mahony rallies that “any society, any nation, is judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members - the last, the least, the littlest.” And that includes the animals, even if they are of a different species, caste, whatever you want to call it.


Related Story:

Donkeys in Peril

debby ngDebby Ng forayed into journalism following failed attempts at becoming a world-class equestrian. A wildlife crime investigator, underwater photographer, dive master and founder of a marine conservation organisation, she spends what remains of her time writing about the environment, its wildlife, and its people.

Contact Debby

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