About the Nepali Diaspora and nurses going abroad


First, a definition. A Diaspora is a scattering about of a group of people. Most commonly used in reference to the Jews ( the Israelites) who were forcibly uprooted from their homeland. Wikipedia has a fine essay on the meanings and nuances of diaspora for those with a sociological bent. I can’t improve on it, the best I can do is to point toward it.

In December 2013, MyRepublika published the following article.

KATHMANDU, Dec 13: More than 450 thousand people enter the labour market every year in Nepal.

Nearly 1,500 people leave the country for foreign employment every day.

The number of youths going on foreign employment by taking labour permit has reached 3 million 21 thousand 302 as of November 15, and of them, 91 thousand 308 are women, according to the Ministry of Labour and Employment.

The Ministry of Labour and Employment is marking the International Day of Migrants 2013 by organising various programmes throughout this week.

At a programme here today, the Ministry informed the media that programmes like screening of documentaries, interaction, community awareness, art and photo exhibition, blood donation, morning procession, street play, booklet publication etc would be organised in Kathmandu and other places on the occasion.

Secretary at the ministry Suresh Man Shrestha argued that Nepal figures as the country where a large section of the population has migrated in proportion to the total population of the country.

Shrestha said that this number includes people who have gone abroad without taking labour permit, those people who have gone to India for seasonal work, those who have gone to Europe and the U.S. and other countries for higher studies and in connection with business and the Nepalis who have gone abroad for temporary residence.

December 18 is observed as the International Day of Migrants every year and Nepal has been marking the Day since 2000.

The United Nations had passed the Convention on Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers and their Family Members on December 18, 1990

Two numbers jump out.

First, it’s 400,000 per year.

Next it’s 90% male.

The total population of the country is about 26 million, and if 3 million or more are away, this is at least twelve per cent of the country.

Now, it is not entirely a bad thing since all these migrants are sending money home. it is no coincidence that there is a Western Union office on every street. I am not sure there is accurate data regarding how much money comes to Nepal via this route.

Nursing as a route out of Nepal?

For nurses, there are definite implications. First, many women study nursing so they can join their (future) husband in whichever foreign country he may reside. The numbers above focus on the people who left the country but when there is such gender imbalance in those who leave, it means that a disproportionate number of women are left behind in Nepal. Also, nursing is seen as a means by which a woman can generate an income for remittance purposes. The country of the Philipines has long been known as a place where women study nursing to get out of the country; Nepal is following that model, whether it is official policy or no.

There is a problem. Not all the programs in Nepal meet international standards, and the nurse finds out they need to re-do their education in order to get a foreign nursing job. And, there is not enough reliable information out there to guide them. so sometimes this means that the person goes abroad and their gamble does not pay off. and they are too ashamed to share this with the people back home.

Every young person totals up their individual situation and decides whether they can personally get ahead or not, and whether it might be better for them to go abroad.

There are so many issues rolled up into this phenomenon, that to describe all the ins and outs would take fifty pages.


About Joe Niemczura, RN, MS

These blogs, and my books, and videos are written on the principle that any person embarking on something similar to what I do will gain more preparation than I first had, by reading them. I have fifteen years of USA nursing faculty background. Add to it fifteen more devoted to adult critical care. In Nepal, I started teaching critical care skills in 2011. I figure out what they need to know in a Nepali practice setting. Then I teach it in a culturally appropriate way so that the boots-on-the-ground people will use it. One theme of my work has been collective culture and how it manifests itself in anger. Because this was a problem I incorporated elements of "situational awareness" training from the beginning, in 2011.
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