Pooja for deceased Nepal RPCV leads to Dalit rights political action

John Jacoby, who served in Peace Corps Nepal from 1970-72, passed away in April of 2015. He was 66. His wife, Carolyn, wrote that his passing was felt in Nepal:

So – we wanted a small commemoration and prayer service (pooja) for John at the temple in Bastipur.  Then the earthquake happened and Nepal went into a tailspin.  But our Nepali daughter, Anita Pariyar, was determined to make this happen and went to the village (she was one of the Dalit girls that we gave a scholarship to at the Bastipur High School where John taught science as a Peace Corps Volunteer) to help arrange for a pooja honoring JJ’s memory and was told that she couldn’t enter the temple because she was untouchable…

Here are some photos we just received from what has turned into a political action event on behalf of Dalits in Siraha – and JJ is certainly smiling.  The first photo is of the Prime Minister [Prachanda] (flown in by helicopter and with a full security contingent!) to inaugurate the opening of what is a multi-day Puran under the auspices of a renowned priest from Kathmandu (who allows Dalits to participate in religious rituals.)  Lots of local and regional dignitaries.  We’re not sure of all the details but it certainly is quite a saga.  

Remarkable how our actions impact on people and events in ways we could never know – or even imagine.

John remained a friend of Nepal throughout his life. As general manager of Newark Liberty International Airport, John made a point of welcoming Nepalese-speaking Bhutanese refugees to the United States in their own language. An obituary ran in his local newspaper in 2015.