Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Womens Reproductive Health Camp - Jhapa

From the 18th to the 20th of August we were in Bhadrapur, Jhapa for a Womens Reproductive Health Camp.  The camp was the final camp of 16 held in various locations all over Nepal for the past 6 months.  All of the camps have been staffed by a dedicated team of 8 - 10 doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and gynacologists.

Approximately 300 women attended the camp in Jhapa.  During the camp the women received free advice, examinations and treatment.  Many were suffering from STIs or prolapsed uterus (more on this later), others sought advice on infertility, while some had tumours or other problems. The women that need surgery are referred to hospital for free treatment.

The women come to the camp due to pains/problems - many have never visited a doctor before.  The camps are organised in co-ordiantion with the local community.  Camp locations are decided as a result of requests, demand and recommendations.  The local womens groups promote the camp to locals, and help to organise the site, and provide food/accomodation (if possible) to the medical team. 

Education is also an important element of the camp with documentaries screened for the waiting women, and brochures distributed.  These cover a range of topics including nutrition, family planning, STIs, HIV/AIDs, pregnancy and infant care. 

These camps were made possible through a Rotary matching grant from the Dieburg-Babenhausen Rotary Club (Germany), Rudramati Rotary Club (Nepal) and the Rotary Foundation.  The total grant was US$44,264.  Approximately 6000 men, women and children living in remote regions have benefited from the camps. 

It was great to be a part of the camp and to witness the need for the camp, and the quick and efficient treatment it offers to the women in need.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Drive through the Terai Region

Local Barber in Bara
Temple in Janakpur
Ashok by a massive river - 1 km across

Local community wastelands project - turning barren wastelands into
profit (vegetables and trees, herbs)
Barren wasteland prior to cultivation

Ox and Cart - a common scene

Drive out of the Kathmandu Valley
The health camp team - overlooking border with India (one ute load of people - excluding
driver and photographer)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Bara School

A few days ago we made the long journey from Banepa to Bara.  This was a trip of approximately 100km, we took a shortcut, but still we were in the car for 6 -7 hours!!  The short cut passed over the mountain range that separates the Kathmandu Valley from the Terai region of Nepal. The road was full of landslides, we were thankful that this short cut was passable and that we passed through safely.  Entering the Terai was like entering a whole new country.  It is an almost endless expanse of flat land, crowded with impoverished villages, bustling border towns (with India), and lots of rice and sugar cane fields.

It is here that the Bara National Secondary School is located. Arriving at the school was overwhelming to say the least.  We were greeted to a heros welcome by the school staff, local village elders, students and members of the local community.  A press of people offered us marigold garlands and yellow flowers (a blessing).  We were the first foreigners to visit the school, and everyone was very thankful that we had made the effort to come.We were truly honoured to receive such a welcome!

The school provides an education for 1600 students, from primary through to secondary level.  But the facilities are very basic, and overcrowding is a big problem.  This can clearly be seen on the video that introduces the school:

While at the school we learnt that there are classes of 230 and 260 students each.  This is crazy to imagine as the classroom space was not that large.  We feel for the teachers who must teach 10x the number of kids normally in a classroom at home!!

The community has been trying desperately to get funding to improve the situation at the school, but nothing has come of this.  Many speeches were said during our visit, with the school committee and village elders saying they were prepared to eat less food, to see their children educated.  They have promised to provide all the labour to build the new classrooms, but need help to raise funds to make their dreams for the future of the school a reality.

With basically no resources the school has recently started offering a 10+2 level class. This is the equivalent of polytech level course.  There is a lot of community pressure and need for the school to grow.  We clearly heard the hope that the community places on educating its youth for a brighter future for them. We hope that together we can help the school to reach this goal it so desperately needs and desires to achieve.  Please, if you wish to help, or want to find out some more information, get in touch.

Market in the school grounds
Welcome on the step
A classroom for 230 students
A warm welcom at the Jan Jagaran Youth Club (a local NGO).  Baiyaram Yadav
(the club president) introduced us to Bara School and is committed to helping the school.   

Buffalo in local village

Local village housing

Photo with school comittee, village elders and students

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A weekend of festivals, part 2 – Sunday

Sunday was the big Gai Jatra festival in the neighboring town of Bahktaphur. Gai jatra is a festival to celebrate anyone who has died in the last year. Portable shrines are carried thru the streets in large processions with bands for music and many children beating sticks in time to the music. There is a lot of dancing and celebrations with some people going for hours in the hot sun, it must be exhausting.  It’s very loud, chaotic and awesome. Bahktapuhr is a popular tourist town and there were many tourists there enjoying the sights and sounds of one of the most popular festivals.

Friday, August 19, 2011

A weekend of festivals, part 1 -Saturday

What a full on weekend! Saturday was festival time in Banepa with the entire town climbing up to a small temple overlooking the town. The day started with a special bean soup with 9 different types of beans. This festival coincides with the traditional end of the rice planting season so farmers eat the hearty soup to recover strength and renew their vigor. With several of our Nepali friends leading the way we trekked up to the temple, joining the ant like stream of people snaking its way through the forest. Despite the early start we were all covered in sweat, or at least the westerners were! The top of the hill was packed with people enjoying the carnival atmosphere with lots of people selling trinkets and games for the children.

We received tikka and had some thread wrapped round our wrists by a holy man, at another festival, in two months time we wrap the threads around a cows tail apparently.

We didn’t get much time before heading down to Dinesh’s house for a quick feast (with the customary local booze, racksee. And more bean soup) before heading to the Rotary meeting in Dhulikhel.

 After the meeting we all headed around to Ashok’s place for another feast, this time to celebrate his wife Karmela’s birthday. After an amazing feast of many local dishes we were treated to an impromptu concert by our friend Suman and Ashhok’s son.

All in all a very special day

Friday, August 12, 2011

Dhulikhel Computer Learning Centre

In January 2011 the Dhulikhel Computer Learning Centre was opened. It was established following a grant from Goodwill Community Foundation (USA) for computers and materials, and support from the Dhulikhel Rotary Club for the hire of the premises. It is a small centre with 6 computers. 

The centre provides basic computer training to teenagers and adults who have had no previous experience with computers.  It targets its courses towards rural Nepalese people, particularly the poorand disadvantaged. These courses are provided free of cost. Advanced 3 month computer training courses are run for a small cost to the participants (NRs2500). Some of the students who have completed the course are now working overseas in Malaysia, India and Korea. Others working in Nepal in finance and other jobs requiring computer skills.

The centre also provides English language courses for adults who are travelling overseas for work. Many Nepali men and women are choosing to work overseas (Middle East,India, Aisa) for a number of years as the renumeration is so attractive.  A knowledge of the English language is very important for these men and women to avoid/minimize any possible exploitation of their situation. The centre would like to employ a full-time teacher for this, but has no funds to do so.

The centre is struggling to continue its good work with grant funds exhausted. While students at the centre contribute with a small fee this is not enough to cover the on-going costs that the centre faces (rent and internet charges).  Since opening 20 students have completed the advanced training course, and 18 are curently enrolled. They will complete the course in 2 weeks. 

It is a struggle to get a job in Nepal, even with qualifications as there are simply not enough jobs to go around. Having computer skills is very important for the rural Nepali youth to be able to compete in the national and international job market.

Please get in touch if you would like to support this worthwhile initiative.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Tree planting

Rashil helps some of the girls planting

One of our Nepali friends we have made along our way is Rashil. Rashil is a cool, laid back musician who, in his free time plants trees to help improve the environment of Banepa. He has been doing this for the last 4 years and began doing it of his own initiative. Today we helped Rashil and his friends plant 50 trees at the campus of Baylor International Academy, one of the largest schools in Banepa. We were helped by some of the senior students who really enjoyed the experience and were keen to help the environment of their town. Nepal is facing a serious problem of deforestation as many people still use wood for cooking and heating. We hope that with this kind of encouragement the kids will begin to reverse this trend.
Digging was hard work in the heat and humidity

Some of the kids getting a lesson on the basics of tree planting

Posing for the camera

Proud kids

Enjoying planting

Monday, August 8, 2011

Yvonne the voice over artist!

Recently CDRA has been been approached by members of a school board from Bara reigon, located on the hot plains area of eastern Nepal. This school is the sole high school for an area with a population of approx 28000 people. The school is in a very sorry state and now only has 7 usable classrooms for a rool of over 1600 students. The school board is desperate for help and has been petitioning the government for help for over 10 years only to get no response. The plain region is very poor and the tribes are of a low caste meaning that it is of a very low priority to the government. Last year in a desperate bid for attention the school invited a Nepali film crew in to film the conditions facing the school. The film was shown in Nepali on nationwide TV but unfortunatly received no response. We have been able to dub over an english interperation of the film to show to overseas. We hope this can help the people of Bara provide an education for the future of their children. We will be visiting the Bara region next week and will post plenty of photos on the school!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Dhulikhel Rotary Club Meeting

Yesterday was the weekly Dhulikhel Rotary Club meeting.  It was a special meeting with many grants and donations given out to different organisations and groups working in the local community, and many guests present.  The majority of the funds have been raised through matching grants with overseas Rotary Clubs.  We have had the opportunity to visit all of these projects since our arrival here.  It is great to know where and how these funds will be used.  We can clearly see that these matching grants are helping to make a big difference to the lives of the people of Nepal. 
NRs 100,000 donated by Dhulikhel Rotary Club to Reiyukai Eiko Masunaga Eye Hospital, Banepa

NRs 230,000 donated to HASERA Organic Farm, Patlekhet Villlage
(Matching grant from RC Westhampton, USA)

NRs 50,000 donated to Baluwa Primary School for toilet block construction (matching grant from
RC Papamoa, Tauranga Te Papa and Matamata, New Zealand)

Nrs 200,000 was donated to Dhulikhel Hospital (matching grant from RC Westhampton, USA) to fund reproductive healthcare.  NRs 5,000 was also donated to the Rotoract Club of Rudramati, this is to go towards re-building a house that was burnt down.  RC Dhulikhel has previously donated NRs 7,000 towards this project.  

We had the opportunity after the meeting to run some team-building games.  It was a lot of fun for all!!
Team building game

Another team building game


The egg drop
Rotoract Club of Rudramati displaying successful egg protector package

Friday, August 5, 2011

A big project

One of our biggest projects we are working on here at CDRA is to fundraise for a new eye hospital here in Banepa. The current eye hospital is only four years old and demand has already grown to such a point that a new building is needed. The Banepa municpality has generously donated some land on the hills on the outskirts of Banepa and the community is trying to raise funds for the construction.
Over 17000 people from Karvre district are treated in the current hospital each year, the proposed new building will function as the primary facility for the surrounding districts as well and will care for an expected 50000 people per year. The expected cost for the entire new complex is one million dollars with 57000 dollars already raised from local people. 
The site for the new hospital

The HRDC disabled childrens hospital, built on similar land on thhe other side of the valley

After recovering from an operation, patients at thhe new eye hospital will be treated to a wonderful view!
The grant of the land from the Municipality is conditional on building starting within four years. This may seem like a huge ask but it is possible if we take it one step at a time and all help. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

A day in Baluwa Village

Yesterday we spent a full day at Baluwa Village. You may recall us blogging on this before…

We went to Baluwa to check on the progress of a number of projects.  Firstly we visited the local primary school to see the new toilet block under construction.  The foundations have been laid, and a septic tank dug out.  While we were there two young boys were busy bringing the bricks to the site.  All day they carried bricks into the school yard (there is no vehicular access) on their backs.  For this heavy labouring they would earn around NRs 200 in a day. That’s less than $NZ4.  Another local was busy cutting the steel reinforcement for the foundations.  Its great to see this Rotary project underway. 

We visited Gobinda and Sunminas homes.  Sumina was the lady with the broken arm, her home had a leaky roof.  It has been replaced with a tin roof, providing for a dry home in the monsoon.  Sunminas arm is slowly healing with CDRA’s support for her medical treatment.  The roof and arm both needed urgent attention, and CDRA provided the funding for both.  Please help support CDRA with these costs.
Sunmina showing her healing arm

Sunminas home - with new tin roof
 Gobindas home had become structurally unsound due to a lightning strike.  His home is currently being rebuilt, the ground floor has been mostly completed.  This will be used to house the families goats.  They are currently living at the neighbours.  CDRA has provided some initial funding to get this work underway, $$ are urgently needed to complete the home. 

Rebuilt ground floor of Gobindas home

Gobindas wife and child
During the day I gained a new respect for the village women.  We always see them carrying their loaded dokos, or other large loads on their backs.  These are carried by straps around the forehead.  53 year old Nanda was carrying a load of maize to feed her animals, half an hour to her home.  I asked to try carry it for her, it was a real struggle!! The load was 40 – 50 kilos, and while she made it look easy I could not assist her to carry it home.  It is the women’s job to look after the households animals, so it is usually the women that carry these heavy loads of feed. 

Nanda carrying maize load
 We also met Sanker again - please help him have his operation! (see blog: We need your help!)

Sankers home
Sanker greeting us from his home