The following is a report of our virtual visit as part of our Synodal process. If you have any corrections, please let us know.
Kevin Ahern, Rosa Ramirez, and Marina D’Costa met with leaders from Inclusive and Communicative Action Network [ICAN] Nepal
ICAN has a core group of about a dozen members. The group met weekly before the COVID Lockdown.
People “ work individually in the spirit of ICAN but support each other.” In other words, ICAN focuses on supporting the individual actions of members, rather than organizing actions as an association. Many of the ICAN members are involved in non-profit and development work. According to a mission statement, ICAN is:
“is a community-based social movement consisting of intellectuals and students who constantly and steadily offer themselves in continuous research and action… a critical charitable social movement, which stands as an agent of transformation of present society into an idealistic state, hoping to create a world of justice, peace and joy in a universal manner….Observe, Analyze, Act and Change is our motto to fight against the injustices that persists in societies…ICAN works beyond caste, creed, ethnicity and nationality. ICAN itself being the “light of the world and salt of the earth”, eagle eyed, sees into the darkness of inhuman oppression and marginalization. It aims to bring fullness to life by taking away the bitterness. In-line with the spirit of past liberators, we carry out action through the pedagogy for the liberation of the poorest of the poor from the deepest transgression of gross poverty and oppression.
Some of the key themes that surfaced in our visit include:
- A minority community: Catholics in Nepal are a small numeric minority (less than 10,000) in “a very conservaitve country.” This results in a number of challenges, including discrimnation. As one member stated, “it hard to be publicly Catholic in Nepal.”
- Migration/ Membership-drain: One major challenge for ICAN (and the church in Nepal) are high rates of migration by young Catholic professionals out of the country. This makes it difficult to recruit new members for ICAN but it also makes it more important to find ways for those who remain to support one another.
- Focus on Animation / Training: ICAN offers animation programs focused on “training people from various backgrounds to work against injustice in society.” This formation is done with the lens of Catholic social teaching principles. They approach human rights, which can often be “dry” “with “the juice of Catholic social teaching.”
- IMCS and IYCS: With the changes in IMCS and IYCS in the country (IMCS reportedly a smaller group mostly with non-Catholic members at a Jesuit college) it is difficult to recruit new members from the students.
- Human Rights and UPR: ICAN did a UPR in 2015 (with Pax Romana). This had two impacts. First, it helped to develop leaders around human rights. Second, it drew attention in the report to freedom of religion. ICAN/Pax Romana, it was reported, was the only one in 2015 to mention Freedom of Religion.