PMC Nepal country director Rajan Parajuli
As a journalist, Rajan Parajuli created nonfiction pieces for radio and television on socioeconomic and health topics. Now, as Population Media Center’s Country Director in Nepal, he taps the power of fictionalized dramas to make life-changing impacts on real people’s lives.
A focus on storytelling to raise awareness links his previous experience to his PMC work.
Before he joined PMC-Nepal in 2016, Parajuli was program director at the nonprofit Antenna Foundation Nepal (AFN), a PMC partner. AFN produces programs for television, radio, and social media to bring about social and behavioral change.
In his work with AFN and as a journalist, his stories and communication campaigns pertained to democracy and voter education, health care, violence against women, and other issues.
“Creating powerful stories was my passion, a well-told story can bring people together for collective action regardless of their background, location, and gender.”Rajan Parajuli
He became interested in a different approach to developing communications. “I wanted to learn how to apply science in behavioral change communication,” Parajuli says. “I found PMC to be a very good fit for my journey because PMC brings science and research to its storytelling.”
Parajuli was the first staff member with PMC-Nepal, based in Pulchowk, Lalitpur, in the Kathmandu Valley. He’s overseeing the newest project, Rope Guna Fal (“You Reap What You Sow” ), a radio show that will air through 2022 across Nepal. It’s PMC’s third project collaboration with AFN and addresses parenting, reproductive health, child marriage, and other social issues.
One of Parajuli’s goals is to expand PMC’s programming to reach more people on different channels, such as TikTok, Facebook, and YouTube. “The media landscape is rapidly changing,” he says. “The internet and internet-based media have become the dominant media platforms in Nepal. I want to use this as an opportunity to maximize the audience for our work.”
The prime motivator for Parajuli is results that generate change.
In developing programs that address such socially complex issues as gender-based violence and education for girls, “Change is not easy,” he says. “As PMC measures the impact of the programs, I am so proud to see the positive changes in knowledge, attitudes, and behavior of our audience because of our programs.”
He’s also grateful that PMC has established connections with people in the country’s most vulnerable province, in eastern Nepal, a region with a low literacy rate and high rates of poverty, gender inequality, and gender-based violence, among other challenges.
When Parajuli isn’t addressing the challenges involved with his PMC work, he watches soccer, reads nonfiction — travel books, biographies, essays — and travels, an activity curtailed by the pandemic.
One of his PMC responsibilities is as enjoyable as his leisure pursuits: helping to develop the entertainment aspect of programs. “The overall designing process is so much fun,” he says.
For that, he keeps odd hours.
“I feel more creative at night. Whenever I have to develop stories or design a concept, I prefer to do it in the middle of the night,” he says. “It’s quiet, and there is no one to disturb me. I feel that I have the ultimate freedom…to think and do anything I like.”
Whether he’s developing stories or doing another task, PMC’s results-oriented approach inspires Parajuli in his role.
With PMC’s audience research, program evaluations, and monitoring of audience survey results, “That validates my work, motivates me to improve the design, and provides a sense of satisfaction when I know that our work is actually changing people’s lives. It’s happening, and you see the results from rigorous scientific studies,” Parajuli says.
In his work before he joined PMC
“We used to talk about the audience reach of the communication campaigns and engagement of the audience,” he says. “At PMC, we measure actual behavioral changes, and that is always motivating.”Rajan Parajuli