No one could have thought that once a drug addict and alcoholic would turn out to be a prolific storyteller. But Jay Poudyal, 41, from Kathmandu, is one of those people who made it through Stories of Nepal.
Poudyal was in college when he began actively using drugs and alcohol and was a drug addict for over a decade. After a few years of drug addiction, he was taken to a rehab center to detox. He got sober after his time in rehab. Then he wanted to lead a healthy life by engaging in things that would make him happy.
Meanwhile, while looking for inspiration, he came across a US-based online platform that features stories from everyday people. This platform fascinated him and encouraged him to start Stories of Nepal, a social media account that features stories from rural people in Nepal. It became a motivator for him to lead an engaging and happy life as he could explore his long-lost passion for photography and listen to people’s stories.
Everyone has a story
With the realization and appreciation of people’s ordinary stories, Poudyal began his journey as a storyteller through Stories from Nepal. “Ten years ago, I started Stories of Nepal’s journey by asking my friends to follow his social media account. Back then, I was featuring my neighbours’ stories,” says Poudyal, the man behind.
“My friends were surprised to see the content and they really appreciated my work. Before that, I had never received any appreciation for my work.
These unexpected appreciations prompted Poudyal to travel to rural parts of the country to seek out more moving stories. So far, Poudyal has visited 65 districts for the same.
While searching for the stories, Poudyal randomly picks the characters and begins to listen to their stories. Then it publishes the content with their approval. As Poudyal himself went through a lot of hardships when he struggled with addiction, he can relate to the characters’ painful stories. However, he sometimes feels uncomfortable taking their photos, nevertheless, their permission helps him feel comfortable.
Stories from Nepal includes stories of ordinary people living their lives even in hardships and struggles. One such story it features is the story of Tara Kumari Kadayat of Achham, who lost four of her brothers and is now caring for her brother’s two children.
Likewise, it also featured the story of Amrita Darlami Magar from Surkhet, a community health worker, who experienced the tragic loss of her mother to cancer, during the lockdown. The story tells how the confinement created complexity in the treatment of his mother and deteriorated his health (that of his mother).
There are many such stories featured on Stories of Nepal. According to him, the mainstream media misses the stories of ordinary people, their dreams, their ways of life and their struggles.
Poudyal says they mainly focus on stories about politics and entertainment but fail to bring the stories of the locals, and through the stories of Nepal he wants to fill the void.
“Everyone has a story. If you need to know them, all you need is to be a good listener,” says Poudyal.
Her involvement with Stories of Nepal has allowed her to travel to different parts of the country, broadening her knowledge of the socio-economic aspects of the country as well as local culture and heritage. “If I hadn’t worked for Histoires du Nepal, I would either have been drinking, imprisoned, or already dead,” says Poudyal.
Currently, he has already created a Nepal Stories website. Meanwhile, his Instagram page has 30,900 followers and there are 4,43,997 likes on Facebook at the time of writing this story.
He has received help from Patreon to support the platform and his supporters are none other than his supporters. Along with this, her collaboration with different organizations working on mental health and parenting issues also helps her sustain herself so far.
Serve the characters
For Poudyal, it takes about a few days to a week to write about the characters. Once he’s done writing and posting on social media, he doesn’t end the bond with the featured characters. He does his best to keep in touch with them.
“Some needy characters even receive financial aid from followers.” Recently, one of the characters, Sunita Singh of Birendranagar, received financial help from followers. Singh is a single mother with a son as her husband committed suicide.
Likewise, Sang Maya Khadka of Dolakha, who broke her ribs in an accident, was seeking financial help. After her story was published on Stories of Nepal, from her followers, she received the fund for her treatment and now she is in a hospital in Kathmandu recovering.
Stories of Nepal has been a bridge between those who need financial help and those who are ready to help. Thanks to her, Poudyal raised around USD 14,000 during the 2015 earthquake and USD 100,000 during the Covid pandemic.
Poudyal hasn’t been traveling much lately because over time his priorities also change. He also has to take care of his family. But, to overcome this challenge, Poudyal plans to enlarge the team. Likewise, he also wants to put more effort into multimedia content in the coming days.