A primary focus of our project is completing baseline surveys. The purpose of the survey is to find out about the community and understand their needs. It is the perfect opportunity to extend our relationship with everyone in the village and talk to them in depth about the problems they have been facing and how we could help address them.
We have also held focus groups with farmers, women and youth, in an effort to further extend our knowledge of community needs. The farmers expressed great interest in organic farming and crop diversification. The women of Bhalu Khola requested training in home based businesses such as basket making, pickle making and mushroom farming alongside textiles training. Lastly, and possibly most importantly, the youth voiced their feelings of a lack of representation and employment opportunities in the village. They were the most hesitant about working with another NGO as they felt previous attempts to improve livelihoods were done without the all-important views of the young people themselves. This is what set Raleigh apart. Our focus group gave them a voice.
In the wake of our successful International Women’s Day poetry competition, the week also featured a moving recital of the three winning entrants’ poems. These were read out in Nepali and Team Leader Asha did a fantastic job of translating them for the UK volunteers. The poems, written by both boys and girls, spoke about gender inequality, family roles, mothers and the power and beauty of women. Little was ‘lost in translation’ and the emotional resonance of the poems was still deeply felt, even sometime after the original event.
We have also been sharing our knowledge in the group, with two lessons this week from our volunteers. The first was a music lesson from Amulya who taught the Nepali folk song ‘Resham Firiri’ and accompanied the groups singing (squawking?) with his ukulele. Secondly we had an international relations lesson from Natalie who specialised in this topic at university. She spoke about terrorism, state looting, the means by which illegal money is laundered in fake businesses and the property market, including how it is protected by vested interests and confidentiality agreements. She then spoke about the need to tackle this corruption by promoting transparency to eliminate these havens. The session gave us plenty of food for thought, in terms of our project and international development on a broader scale.
We feel that we had a very productive and educational project so far, and have all learnt a great deal, putting us firmly on the right footing to achieve our targets moving through the remaining weeks.
Written by UK Volunteer Mark Raynor and Nepali Volunteer Prakriti K.C.