By Hannah Nieswand in Cologne, Germany
Established in 1967, the German – Nepal – Friendship Association (GNFA) which has been pivotal in strengthening the relationship between Nepal and Germany, marked it’s 50 years of establishment by organizing an event in Cologne, Germany with the theme ‘Building Bridges’. The three day event which was held from 5th – 7th May saw various events and participation of many high ranking guests and dignitaries from Nepal and Germany.
Speaking at the program, newly appointed Nepali Ambassador to Germany, Ramesh Prasad Khanal expressed hope that the relations between Germany and Nepal would be further strengthened in the future and GNFA would play a significant role in it. The program kicked off with a concert by UNICEF Ambassador and famed singer cum nun, Ani Choying Dolma who performed along with her famous hits, a German song in the sold-out hall. Dolma was accompanied by Nepali musicians Raman Maharjan, Gopal Rasaili and Nhyoo Bajracharya. “I am extremely proud and delighted that Cologne is the home to GNFA. I feel happy to be a part of the event”, said Andreas Wolter, Mayor of Cologne, addressing the crowd. Speaking at the event, Ram Pratap Thapa, President of GNFA provided an overview of the achievements and outlined the future plans of the organization. “To further strengthen the relationship between Nepal and Germany, we propose the formation of a foundation called Nepal Foundation”, he announced. As a generous support, Mr. Artur Grzesiek, Chairperson of the Sparkasse Cologne Bonn bank handed over a token cheque for the foundation.
The event featured a one-day program entitled ‘Nepal Day’ which saw presentations pertaining to politics, economics, culture, health and education. Prof. Dr. Axel Michaels showed a comprehensive presentation to the crowd about Nepali history while Prof. Dr. Ulrike Müller-Böker spoke about her research on labor migration and workforce recruitment agencies in Nepal. Leading Nepali scientist Dr. Maheswar Rupakheti, highlighting the persisting problem of pollution, presented findings of ‘Sustainable Atmosphere for the Kathmandu Valley (SusKat)”. Noted Nepali heart surgeon Prof. Dr. Malakh Lal Shrestha gave an overview of the current medical situation in Nepal and achievements made in the field. Founding member of Non Resident Nepali Association (NRNA) and successful entrepreneur, Jiba Lamichhane highlighted the investment opportunities in Nepal while Ms. Sangita Giri and Mr. Awadhesh Das showed a presentation on Nepali culture with special focus on Mithila art. The event also featured experience sharing by three former German Ambassadors to Nepal. Development projects undertaken by German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) in Nepal were also discussed. The ‘Nepal Day’ was rounded up by a typical Nepali ‘Dal Bhat’ dinner hosted by the Nepali embassy.
A part of the three day event was the 20th NGO Conference. The program saw more than 200 German NGOs working in Nepal come together where they shared successes, challenges and learning from their work in Nepal. Stefanie Halfmann of Engagement Global spoke about different funding possibilities for sustainable development projects in Nepal. Ulrike Puetz of the Senior Experts Service (SES) which has been facilitating in bringing German senior experts to Nepalese companies, also spoke about her experience.
At the end, the three day event, apart from being a 50 year anniversary celebration, also turned out to be a significant platform for exchange of ideas and experience between Nepali and German experts. It provided further scope for strengthening the relationship between the two countries.