Almost one-third of Nepal’s GDP is contributed by the remittance money from migrant workers who have left home to work overseas primarily in the Middle East and in Southeast Asian countries. Since the implementation of the global lockdown due to Covid-19, many Nepali migrant workers have either lost their jobs or have been placed on unpaid leave while struggling to meet their daily needs.
And many want to come back home.
The number of Nepali citizens pursuing work abroad has steadily increased to 3.5 million between 2008 and 2017. This data discounts the millions working in India, and thanks to the open border, neither side have any reliable data. In 2017 alone, Nepal received remittances worth NPR 699 billion (USD 6.56 billion) from its citizens working overseas.
In response to the crisis, Unilever Nepal, in partnership with Unicef, has created the social initiative #HamroNamaste, a campaign with the mission to raise awareness of the less-fortunate people who are all are coming back home to uncertain futures, unseen challenges and hardships. The only hope they have is their homes and the support of the people of their own country.
The #HamroNamaste campaign found the support of Rajesh Hamal, a superstar of Nepal. The message of the campaign was written as a poem. At its core was empathy – to remind people that at this juncture, when difficulties are a daily reality, we all need to be together, united, and welcoming home migrants who have gone abroad to support their families.
हरेक दिन हजारौं हाम्रा नेपाली दाजुभाइ तथा दिदीबहिनीहरू आफ्नो घर फर्किँदैछन्। उहाँहरुलाई न्यानो #HamroNamaste का साथ स्वागत गरौं । हामी सबैलाई आव्हान गर्दै अभिनेता Rajesh Hamal ।कृपया यो सन्देश सबैले Share गरौं #HamroNamaste #हाम्रोनमस्ते #SpreadLove #मायाफैलाऔं का साथ। UNICEF Nepal
Posted by Unilever Nepal on Friday, June 26, 2020
“It is our duty to give them support, encouragement, and boost their morale,” said a statement from the campaign. “They have boosted our economy with their hard work for decades, now it’s our time to support them. The campaign is going viral currently through social media handles of Rajesh Hamal, Unilever Nepal, and Unicef Nepal with thousands of shares, comments, and likes and has emotionally touched the audiences with the beautiful poem.
It has been five months since the first positive Covid-19 case, the campaign added. “Since then there has been a constant rise in different forms of stigmatization against recovered patients, their families, and health workers. But the most alarming accounts are of the returnee migrant workers and their family members. Rumors, propelled by less awareness, are fueling the stigma. This stigmatization will surely lead the returnees into states of depression, alcoholism, anti-social activities, and suicide if not treated and answered from the very beginning.”