From the stunning mountain landscapes to the rich culture and fascinating history, there are many reasons to come to Nepal. However, behind the first impressions is a country which has faced many challenges. From the impact of natural disasters and climate change to emerging after years of political conflict, the resilient people of Nepal have had to maintain livelihoods on a tough landscape, from the highest mountains to the hot plains of Terai. The set up team in Nepal have been assessing needs and finding opportunities to work alongside local communities and NGOs and other agencies to create a sustainable, positive impact through engaging youth in our work.
Who are the Nepal team so far?
Bringing with them a wealth of experience we have Ram who is Country Director, Paul who is the Country Operations Manager and Priti, our Youth Development Officer.
Ram is an extremely experienced Country Director, having represented Helvetas International in Nepal, Mali and Ethiopia for many years before returning home to Nepal last year. Paul and Priti are no strangers to Raleigh, having worked in Raleigh India for six and two years respectively.
The team have now officially opened their Field Base in Kathmandu, kitting up and preparing for the first ICS programme and Expedition in January 2016.
What will be the focus of our work in Nepal?
Supporting local partners and communities in the earthquake relief efforts in both Gorkha and Makwanpur districts, the focus of our work in Nepal will be Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, Community Resilience and Youth Development. There will also be an exciting adventure and leadership project on our expedition programme, a trek in the challenging yet beautiful Manaslu National Park.
In the first months of working in Nepal, it has been interesting to discover the challenges facing local communities and local youth as well as the wider picture of current development initiatives in Nepal. An understanding of why so many youth leave Nepal every year to find work overseas instead of being able to generate income locally is influencing the team’s planning of the youth entrepreneurship project.
What opportunities have the team seen so far?
Visiting a village with a local NGO, the team saw an example of where income generating skills training had been effective in creating a collaborative approach to small scale agricultural farming. The small community had come together to produce various crops for local consumption and for sale in a central location. When discussing the project with the local woman’s group, there was strong agreement that engaging youth in this, and similar entrepreneurship projects, would be a powerful way to create alternatives to leaving their own country to look for work. Agricultural skills, along with entrepreneurial skills, like business planning and marketing techniques will create the opportunities to increasing sales and a reliable, sustainable income. Speaking to the youth in rural communities, the team met enthusiastic, knowledgeable and capable young people, all seeking employment and income opportunities. It left the team feeling very encouraged by the impact that Raleigh Youth can have in working together to realise the potential that is in communities such as this one.
Visiting other communities, the team also saw the need for reliable, sustainable water sources that need to withstand the climate change of increasing monsoon rains and the mountainous landscapes that make retrieving water a very hazardous activity. The team found it difficult to imagine the daily need to walk up and down extremely steep slopes to carry water back home for the family. There are also powerful behavioural change campaigns that are reaching many districts to encourage them to become open-defecation free by 2017 but a lot of work still needs to be done to reach certain communities.
The most striking thing the team found was the eagerness of the local people to have volunteers in their homes and villages. Even in initial visits the warmth and sincerity radiated through any language barriers. The openness to exchanging knowledge and ideas gave reason to why these communities have already survived so many challenges in the past and will become even more resilient to them in the future.