Britain's first Nepali Mayor Nina Gurung has completed 100 days of her tenure. She was elected as the Mayor of Medway Council in Kent, near London, in the local elections held on May 24. She is also known as the first Buddhist mayor of the United Kingdom.
She entered the field of politics through social services and was elected to the post of mayor within a year of joining the Labor Party.
Medway Council, of which she is the mayor, consists of five towns: Gillingham, Rochester, Raynham, Stroud, and Chatham. There are about 300,000 residents within this area.
Originally from Pokhara, Nepal, Nina Gurung came to the UK in 1999 and has been living in Medway since 2005.
After doing SLC in Nepal, Nina came to Britain as her husband was in the British Army. She continued her education while raising two young daughters in the UK.
Nina eventually completed her Masters in International Relations and Social Policy at the University of Kent. She is also a researcher. Nina's seminal research on Gurkha settlement and integration processes in the UK was instrumental in promoting community cohesion.
Nina expressed her desire to meet the Nepali media during her 100-day term as Mayor of Medway Council. Accepting her invitation, some of us journalists went to her office to meet her.
Nina welcomed us in the mayor's parlor room. The Mayor's Parlor is mainly used for meetings, receptions, and special occasions.
We started chatting with her over coffee while looking at the decorations in the parlor. With us was Councillor Leader Vince Maple. The conversation was going on in both Nepali and English languages.
Mayor Gurung began to explain her role to us:
"In Britain, the mayor is regarded as the king's representative. And, the mayor is known as the first citizen of his area. The mayor's presence at the convocation ceremony of the University of Medway is considered important," she said, "The mayor is also the guardian of the rivers and streams of Medway."
Medway is home to the Gurkha community. Gurung, who comes from a British Gurkha background, is also an active member of the Buddhist Community Center UK as well as a number of Medway-based charities.
“I come from an ethnic minority background,” said Nina, “I am also a woman and a Buddhist. I have seen everyone's problems from very close. Therefore, I will always strive to eliminate all kinds of discrimination as well as inequality between ethnic minority groups."
When asked how she felt when she was elected mayor, she said that she was honored and proud. Emphasizing that she will always be motivated to serve the community selflessly, she said, "I hope that the people of Medway will get a positive return from my work."
She said that she got into politics because she was inspired to find a solution to the various problems faced by the Gurkhas in Britain. She mentioned that when she was doing her master's degree at the university, there was a negative perception in the public mind that the Gurkhas only used British resources.
Nina brought forward the fact that through her research, Gurkhas are contributing to the development of the economy as well as the development of the community.
The recommendations of her study and research were also noted by the Department of Community and Local Government to support the integration process of Gurkhas. After completing her studies, she engaged in social work, and within a short period of time, she reached managerial responsibilities. She also became the president of the Medway Nepali Community.
Nina said, "Maybe I was given the responsibility of leadership after seeing some ability in me." Even in the university, my friends made me a student representative twice.
Feeling emotional recalling the sad moments she had seen in her life, she said, "I have seen inequality, poverty, and a difficult life. And I thought that it would be possible to solve these problems only after reaching the level of policy-making and I joined the Labor Party."
She said her workplace, Medway, was more inclusive and progressive than she had imagined.
“Medway has a very proud heritage and enormous potential. We look forward to investing in education, health, and all areas essential to the community,” she said. We are working together with community and council leadership to be united in vision and goals. The return of which will definitely be positive."
Saying that she will try to work as a role model, Nina said, "Everyone has a lot of hope and trust in me. I will make sure that those who live here will feel important. And I will try to ensure equal opportunities and equality of life for everyone."
By the time the conversation with Nina was over, our cups of coffee were empty. She finally took us around her town giving us her signed certificate while thanking us. We visited Rochester with her. She was walking around the town greeting everyone she came across.