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Class 23 (2024-2026)

Nishchhal Kharal, Nepal

Duke University – Master in International Development Policy

Civic Engagement | Youth Activism | Conflict Transformation | Civil Society Development

Nishchhal Kharal (a.k.a "Nish") is an activist and a social entrepreneur. Nish holds an MA degree in Conflict, Governance, and Development from the University of York in the United Kingdom and a bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Kathmandu University, Nepal.

During his career, Nishchhal has co-founded numerous civil society organizations that have significantly impacted Nepal's socioeconomic and political landscape. In March 2012, he established the youth-led organization We for Change, where he engaged young people in leadership development and peacebuilding actions. In the face of Nepal's increasing ethnic conflicts, he trained and developed youth peace ambassadors around the country who championed intercultural harmony and peace. During the 2015 earthquake in Nepal, he mobilized his team and network members for a massive relief and rehabilitation program. He handed over his leadership at ‘We for Change’ to the next generation as he celebrated his 24th birthday.

In September 2017, he went to the UK to pursue his master’s degree as a Chevening Scholar. After returning to Nepal, he worked as a consultant and fellow in several international and national organizations, including the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). During the COVID crisis, he realized the need for an organization that supports grassroots movements, therefore, created ‘Freedom Studio’ to support creative expression and civic mobilization in Nepal. In these four years, Freedom Studio has supported more than ten social movements in Nepal by providing continuous strategic, creative, and technical support.

Nish joined the MIDP program at Duke, hoping to reimagine the development field and shift power to the grassroots. After completing his studies, he wants to work on creating an alternative development module that unlocks the power of communities for sustainable development.