Sapna Thapa, MotherCare International Preschool
Bishnu Bhatta, Partnership for Sustainable Development - Nepal
Last updated June 2017
Sustainable Development News From Nepal
Bishnu H. Bhatta, ACEI country liaison for Nepal and Director of the Partnership for Sustainable Development (PSD), a non profit social development organization dedicated to alleviating poverty among children and youth in rural parts of Nepal, provides the following updates about PSD’s activities:
Latest PSD Developments:
Mercer on a Mission (MOM) Project: Ten students from Mercer University, Georgia, USA, came to Nepal in June to work with PSD for three weeks. Two Mercer professors, Dr. Michelle Vaughn and Dr. Sybil Keesbury, led the team; two journalism students provided project documentation; and eight early childhood teacher candidates observed and practiced teaching for 12 days. The students first spent three days in country orientation training, which included Nepali language and cultural sessions. PSD also held a session regarding the education system, early childhood status, development, personal safety, and health system of Nepal. The eight Mercer teacher candidates worked alongside local teachers at the Tri-Ratna Co-operative School (TRCS) in Bungamati, Lalitpur. Dr. Loren Weybright, an International Education Development consultant, coordinated this unique project, along with the MOM professors and the TRCS management.
Youth Media Education Project: In February, 15 students and two teachers, Jeffrey Romanow and Natalie Vantuyn, from the Institute for Collaborative Education (ICE) high school, NY, USA, conducted a photo storytelling project at the Tri Ratna Cooperative School (TRCS), Bungamati, Lalitpur, for the third year in row. This year, 39 TRCS students, grades 6, 7, and 9, and seven teachers participated in the project. The TRCS students were divided into seven groups, with at least two ICE students leading each group. A TRCS teacher was also assigned to each group to ensure the sustainability of the project. In the morning, the ICE student/teachers led workshops in photo storytelling. In the afternoon, the TRCS students led the ICE students on a tour of their homes and villages. Dr. Loren Weybright coordinated the teacher training, along with the ICE faculty. PSD launched a photography exhibition at the close of the program, featuring photographs from the TRCS students and teachers that depicted the local culture, lifestyle, historical places, flora, and fauna. The students, teachers, parents, and the local community enthusiastically participated in the exhibition. Students from ICE also donated 21 digital cameras to TRCS.
Pipaltar Integrated Reconstruction Project:
Following the earthquake in April 2015, PSD-Nepal began implementing the Integrated Village Model Development Project (IVMDP) to rebuild the earthquake-ravaged community of Pipaltar, in Kavre district, with funding from Habitat for Humanity International Nepal (HFHI). The earthquake caused 87 of the total 89 homes in the community to collapse, forcing members of the marginalized Danuwar community into temporary shelters. The Danuwars and other ethnic families of the community are entirely dependent on farming. Lack of sufficient land for farming, illiteracy, and poor access to medical services contribute to their state of deprivation. This one-year resettlement project was successfully completed within the time specified by the agreement signed between HFHI and PSD Nepal on 4 March 2016. The project was implemented in a participatory manner, mobilizing and involving the community members in every aspect of the project. Every able family contributed around 500 hours of sweat equity; the whole community contributed around 50,000 hours toward the construction of their houses. The project provided safe shelter and masonry training to community members in a gender-inclusive environment. A total of 55 locals, including women, were trained as masons. After the training, the community members can use the knowledge and skill regarding earthquake-resistant technology in building houses outside their own village to earn a better income.
Last updated February 2017
PSD’s Completed Projects
We are happy to announce the completion of a four-room building at Mahendra Lila Higher Secondary School, Harmi, Gorkha. The students and teachers are very much enjoying having classes in the newly constructed building. The photos show the building and its use by the school.
We also completed a four-room building at Bigyan Primary School, Harmi, Gorkha. We are so pleased to see the cherished face of the students, teachers, parents, and community as they enjoy the benefits of their new building.
The school building was built to create a sound environment where students can learn and express their creativity. To meet this purpose, one room is decorated with animals and birds and globe is specially focused for the primary students. Our focus is on all students; we tried to help them by applying a holistic approach as most of them still have nightmares related to the earthquake. Our volunteers take music classes to increase the methods they can use to help children overcome their fears.
Volunteers and teachers work together to teach the students about sharing their feelings and knowledge, an exchange of culture that benefits both teachers and students. The community praised our work. After the school buildings were completed, the people in the community said, “We are alive with our hope.” The parents said, “Now our children have a dream.”
NAFA Nourishes Program
We have been running a NAFA Nourishes Program for orphanages since October 2016. Three members from NAFA (Nepal Adoptive Families Association) in the United States visited us and we hired two new program field nurses, who joined the team in November 2016. So far, more than 450 children in 16 homes are benefiting from our nutrition program.
During the assessment, we identified issues regarding dental hygiene and therefore distributed age-appropriate toothbrushes to all the children and will continue doing so every 6 months. The nurses worked on hygiene with the children, and demonstrated how to make a toothbrush holder using an old rice sack.
Our team also identified a lice problem in most of the homes. Therefore, we provided hygiene instruction and supplied them with a special comb. We organized the children into pairs, younger and older, so they could help each other with the combing. Personal hygiene and hair washing training was provided to the children and the house staff.
We also distributed a nutritional supplement. However, the older children did not like the taste of the supplement and so we started to provide peanut butter as well. We also gave each child a spoon to maintain sanitary conditions. Some of the children will start taking multivitamins, as they have completed their regime of the nutritional supplement.
We found most of the children were in need of counseling regarding school performance and interpersonal relationships; therefore, we provided such counseling. We also provided necessary health information and medicine.
• Thirty-eight volunteers from OXadventure, Kuwait, helped out at Gram Sudhar School, Kathmandu, this December and January. PSD Nepal is always seeking to help the community according to their needs. After the earthquake, most of the communities are in a vulnerable condition; as a result, we organize charity project work, where people can provide support through a holistic approach in the community.
• Two students from Simon Fraser University, Canada, carried out some practicum work in Nepal in January.
• Fifteen students and two professors from Webster University, USA, will be visiting us in March 2017.
• Fourteen students and two teachers will be working at Tri‐Ratna Cooperative School on a photography and medical project as well as performing service work at the school this February.
• An integrated model village project in Pipaltar, Kavre, with funding from Habitat for Humanity Nepal, is expected to be completed by mid-March 2017.
February 2016 Update
Effects of Crises on Children
Nepal experienced two devastating earthquakes in the summer of 2015, leaving much ofcapital city Kathmandu and many remote villages in ruins. While the government received substantial aid from several countries, political instability hindered the rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts. This fledgling democracy also experienced the historic adoption of a new constitution in June 2015. However, two large ethnic groups, the Tharus in the western plains and the Madhesis in the central and eastern plains, refuted the new constitution. Violent protests occurred in the western, eastern, and central plains. These protests contributed to difficulties at the border between India and Nepal; a subsequent trade embargo prohibited essential commodities, such as fuel and petroleum products, from entering the country, causing acute shortages.
During the embargo, many children suffered as schools remained closed due to shortages of food, and medicines. In addition, according to international news sources, such as the Guardian (United Kingdom), several school children were being used as protestors in demonstrations. School principals have expressed disillusionment about the situation of the country and the state of the nation’s children. For more information, please follow the links below:
The Guardian. (2015). Nepal border blockade "threatens the future of the country itself," says UN. http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/nov/18/nepal-border-blockade-india-threatens-future-un-unicef
BBC News. (2015). UN: Nepal blockade puts millions of children at risk. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-34968252
News sources cite that the four-month-old constitution is currently undergoing amendments. For more on this, read an interview with a constitutional lawyer here:
Scroll In, Nepal crisis: Interview: 'For Madhesis, the first amendments to Nepal's new Constitution are a disappointment' January 30, 2016: http://scroll.in/article/802560/interview-for-madhesis-the-first-amendments-to-nepals-new-constitution-are-a-disappointment
Report from Bishnu Bhatta, February 2015
Nepal experienced two massive earthquakes in 2015 that destroyed several villages and reduced some areas in the cities to rubble. More than 8,000 people lost their lives and the ones who survived are suffering from mental and emotional shock and trauma. The post earthquake chaos affected every Nepali, but the most vulnerable were the children and the women. Children were adversely affected in many ways—many had to live in the open or, if lucky, under tents, there was a lack of food and essential materials, and 90% of the schools in the quake-affected districts were destroyed. In such a traumatizing scenario, keeping in mind the vulnerable situation of children and women, Partnership for Sustainable Development (PSD) has focused on awareness programs, school reconstruction, psycho-social counseling, and training for teachers. (PSD is a non-governmental social development organization that works to support the poorest and most vulnerable communities in Nepal.)
Our different projects in the schools have improved the learning experience for children and teachers, and helped develop sound relationships between the teachers and students.
- Community Resilience Module (CRM) Training: PSD is carrying out CRM training with earthquake-affected children. During the training, the physical and mental health of each child is assessed and workshops inform the children about their trauma, to help increase their resilience and teach them how to support each other in coping with traumatic events. The children are taught to understand how their nervous system reacts to chronic stress and how to interpret their bodily/biological sensations related to the trauma. Similarly, the children learn specific skills to increase their resilience. These skills include 1) simple biological-based skills to restore the balance of body and mind, 2) shifting perceptions of their own stress reactions away from considering them shameful mental weakness to understanding them as biological and improvable, and 3) integrating coping skills into their daily lives. The children find the training very helpful as it not only provides relief from their mental trauma but also provides them with skills they can use during any challenging situation of their lives. Furthermore, after receiving this training, they become skilled enough and confident enough that they can help others in need.
- Nutrition Program: PSD Nepal has started a program in orphanage homes to provide nutrition-related health care to the children, with the support of financial and human resources from the Nepal Adoptive Families Association (NAFA). Trained nurses assess each child’s medical conditions that impact their ability to use nutrients and each child’s nutritional status and need. First, the nurses ask the children about their food likes, dislikes, food intake within the past 24 hours, and chronic diseases if any. Then, they carry out a normal physical check-up. After observation, the children receive immediate feedback. If anything serious is found, they are immediately referred to hospitals. Likewise, the children are told about ways to improve their health. Individual growth charts are maintained and children who do not meet the growth chart norms are provided nutritional foods, supplements, and education. The nurses observe the growth of the children and they conduct long-term planning to increase their nutritional status.
Under the Nutrition Program, the children also learn about basic health, hygiene, hydration, and sanitation. The nurses train the children in basic sanitary practices, from nail cutting to hand washing techniques to brushing their teeth two times a day. The house mother and the house staff are also included in the training and they, too, are observed, as their actions affect the health of the children. The house mothers are advised to cook foods rich in nutrients and the nurses plan the menus. The children are divided into different pairs, with one senior and one junior. The senior-junior pair is then observed and they are told to look after each other. This technique is quite effective. The nurses also provide individual counseling to the children as per their need.
When orphanages see the results, they are inspired and supported in improving their child care choices on a long-term basis. So far, we have enrolled 12 orphanages and assessed more than 300 children.
- Mud Day: While the original plan for Mud Day was almost shattered by the devastating earthquake, PSD Nepal used this celebration as a healing opportunity and helped the 560 participating children from the orphanage homes to forget the trauma they went through during the earthquake. The Mud Day program was held at two locations to accommodate many children. This event brought the children closer to nature and taught them positive understanding and respect. The children happily played in the rice field and curiously observed the rice planting festival and later enjoyed a lunch program.
- Nature Walk, River Walk, and Hiking: As a recreational activity for the students of the Bal Mandir orphanage in Kathmandu, a nature walk, river walk, and hiking expedition was organized. The children hiked to several natural places, to observe rice paddies, small rivers, a monsoon walk, and the spring season. A picnic was also organized for the children. Likewise, children actively participated in celebrating a Nepali New Year’s Eve and New Year Program. The activities were planned and organized by the girls, who learned to work in a team and gained organizing skills. During the preparation of the program, we observed their creative work, a joyful environment, and their developing dancing skills. Children from the orphanage also celebrated different Nepali festivals with great interest and enthusiasm. On Janai Purnima, the children went to the Pashupatinath Temple where they tied doro (sacred colorful thread) around their wrists. They learned about the myth and historical background of the temple. They also went to the famous Krishna Mandir temple in Patan to celebrate and observe the festival Krishna Janamshtami. These programs gave children opportunities to experience local culture and festival.
- Shopping Skills: In order to develop necessary interpersonal skills and shopping skills, the children of the Bal Mandir orphanage homes were taken shopping in a supermarket. Children who had never seen large-denomination currency before were each given a certain amount of money and were guided to identify their needs and likes and develop bargaining skills while staying within their budget. This activity taught the children the importance of planning, budgeting, and identifying needs. The children were excited and happy to shop in a supermarket and bought the things they liked.
- Reconstruction of Schools: PSD Nepal has undertaken reconstruction of schools severely damaged by the earthquake. Out of 10 schools to be reconstructed, five have been successfully reconstructed and handed over to the school committee. The five others are still under construction, as disrupted trade from India has affected the supply of materials for the school reconstruction. One completed school is Mahendra Lila Higher Secondary School in Nawalpur, Gorkha. This school teaches about 500 girls and boys who had lost most of their school buildings during the earthquake in April 2015 and since then had been attending classes in improvised shelters. The reconstructed school building will facilitate the students’ education and also indirectly benefit 1,175 households in the community. When we visited the construction site, one of the students, Merina, told us how much the school means to the children: “We were hopeless about our future as the school building was damaged by the earthquake. The school was built when we desperately need it to continue our study; at least it has started to be rebuilt, making our hope comes true.” Merina said that the donors did a divine deed and she realized that this sense of humanity has not come to an end. “PSD Nepal who has been assisting us with various means, once again became the subject of thankfulness as it assembled kind hearted people and through their joint hands efforts we are going to have a new school building. This project proved that ‘A friend in need is a friend in deed’.”
- Distribution of Water Filters: After observing an increase in water-borne diseases, mainly diarrhea, jaundice, and hepatitis from unfiltered water during the monsoon season, water filters were made available to all the orphanage homes associated with our program. Small children have weak immune systems and are more prone to such water-borne diseases. The house mother, the staff, and the children were taught to use the filter, how and when to clean it, and were educated on the importance of drinking pure and filtered water. They were also made aware of the short-term and long-term effects of drinking unfiltered water. After the installation of water filters, the house mother reported a significant decrease in illnesses among the children.
- Kitchen Gardening for Orphanage Support: In order to make the orphanages self sufficient, PSD has implemented kitchen gardening programs in the orphanages. The staff and house mother are taught about gardening and growing different crops, such as tomatoes, green chilies, onions, and green leafy vegetables. The resulting kitchen gardens not only save money for the orphanages but also ensure a supply of healthful produce free from harmful chemicals and pesticides. The children are taught to care for the crops and water them regularly. This will undoubtedly bring them one step closer to nature.
For more information:
Partnership for Sustainable Development – Nepal: http://www.psdnepal.org/