Nothing derailed the pope's plans to attend a concert by the Nepali band 1974 AD, even though the pre-monsoon weather pattern blanketed the Kathmandu Valley with thunder, lightning, and a brief downpour.
The performance is being held to raise money for autism care in Nepal and is being organized by the Australian Embassy in Kathmandu in close collaboration with the Kathmandu Metropolitan City, Autism Care Nepal Society, and 1974 AD.
Felicity Volk, the Australian ambassador to Nepal, who had recently returned from a two-week trip to the isolated Nepali district of Karnali, welcomed a large crowd, which included diplomats located in Kathmandu, admirably.
While the COVID-19 Pandemic was still in full swing, Ambassador Volk arrived in Nepal. Since then, she has been showing interests in numerous sectors, meeting new people, and traveling across challenging terrain in Nepal's east and west.
Her most recent trip to the rural and challenging Karnali Province districts of Kalikot, Jumla, and Dalikeh, where she spoke with people from all walks of life, including elected women leaders, illustrated her concerns about the area's future development.
She also pledged support for the significant concert hold to generate awareness on Autism
“Thank you everyone for your support to #EmbraceAutism. The Australian Embassy sends its deep gratitude to the Kathmandu Metropolitan City, Autism Care Nepal Society & 1974 AD for coming together to celebrate diversity. A few glimpses from yesterday’s celebration,” tweets ambassador. Twitter
Organized to raise awareness and celebrate people with neuro-developmental differences, the concert is supported by the Australian Embassy.
According to an estimate, 300,000 children in Nepal have autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Autism affects all ethnic and socioeconomic groups. Early intervention can improve learning, communication and social skills, as well as underlying brain development.
According to Chairperson of Autism Care Nepal Society, Dr Sunita Malekhu, “Autism is rarely discussed and there is limited public knowledge of this disorder despite its prevalence in Nepal. Parents, health professionals, community stakeholders are quite unaware about child development delays and differences, leading to late diagnosis.
“It is crucial to share information on these issues, raise awareness and help our people to recognize this condition at an early age. Given timely diagnosis and treatment, people with autism can lead fairly functional lives with modest support.
“ACNS believes this concert will create history to #EmbraceAutism and ensure better recognition, understanding, acceptance, visibility and action for autism to guarantee social inclusion.”
Deputy Mayor of the Kathmandu Metropolitan City,Sunita Dangol, said that KMC has made disability inclusion a special priority and is working with different organizations to realize this. “I call everyone to participate in the special awareness campaign and Concert for Autism,” Deputy Mayor Dangol said.
Australian Ambassador to Nepal Felicity Volk said the Australian Government similarly prioritizes disability inclusive development. “This concert is history-making,” Ambassador Volk said,“but it is one moment in time. When concert-goers leave Tudhikhel on Saturday night, filled with the energy and passion that comes from listening to one of the world’s greatest rock bands, my hope and prayer is that they’ll use that energy to share the message #EmbraceAutism.
“And I hope they’ll find practical ways to support neuro-diverse people in the weeks, months and years to come. Because there is great beauty and strength in our uniqueness.”
The 1974AD has said, “1974AD band members #EmbraceAutism. We are very glad to be performing our Concert for Autism and hope this event will be instrumental in spreading messages about autism. Autism speaks and it is time we listen.”