May 19, 2016

A Wave of Change

 

Minimaya  is an earthquake survivor from Barpak,Gorkha district, the epicenter of the  devastating earthquake. About 18 years ago when her husband went abroad for a job, she was very happy and had high hopes of living a happy life with their 3 children. However, all her dreams and plans were shattered when Minimaya encountered the harsh reality - her husband’s dead body arrived  after one month of his departure. This left her distraught and she was left all alone to face the responsibility of raising her three children.

Minimaya was uneducated, poor and she had a small house where she lived with her 3 children. She was somehow managing to survive and feed her children. But then, on 25th April, an earthquake hit the area with an epicenter in Gorkha. This destroyed the only house she had and she along with her children, were left seeking temporary shelter.

 Tewa's  Shadow Barefoot Volunteers - Hamro Tewa Gau Ghar ma programme , has been initiated in 6 affceted districts where 20 volunteers , 3/4 in each district are based in the districts, working with the communities to give support and strengthen the women's agency and be vigilant to reduce VAW and gender based violence, transfer skills and knowledge to make the communities self reliant. Our volunteers based in Barpak,visited the earthquake affected communities,  and provided livelihood training and grants to the most vulnerable and affected survivors. Minimaya was provided with 2 pigs to rear and her eldest daughter, Radhika, was provided tailoring training for 3 months. Radhika could not continue her studies due to lack of financial support but wishes that her 2 younger siblings would get education.

Minimaya still worries on how to rebuild her house as it is very expensive – a trip of sand alone would cost Rs 12,000 which is a huge sum for her. Further, she is still struggling to pay the tuition fees of her 2 children.

However, through pig rearing she expects to triple her profit by selling them after 7 months. She is also hopeful that with training provided by Shadow Barefoot Volunteers of Tewa, Radhika will be able to earn money by using her tailoring skills. She is very thankful to the Volunteers for providing them with a new life with the support and training, which has made them self-dependent.

Our Shadow Barefoot Volunteers have been deployed in 6 earthquake affected disctricts along with the Building Lives Inspiring Hopes , youth psycho social counsellors led by Naagrik Aawaz. They have formed more than  21 women's' groups , helped to dismantle and build homes, toilets, community taps, conducted 17 livelihood trainings , conducted trainings to women on rights based issues to minimize violence against women. More than 2000 people have been oriented about psycho social problrms , scool children have been approached and counselled as well, more than 100 one on one sessions with community members have been conducted  since there is a still a lot of trauma, fear and anxiety prevalent due to the aftermath of the earhquake.

There is a WAVE of CHANGE of self reliance, strength and resilience, and we hope to continue this support to enable communities to be strong and capable, especially the women and children  who have been most affected by disaster.

 

Radika with her sewing machine during the training                                          Minimaya 

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Attachments:
Mar 10, 2016

Dedication of volunteers in rebuilding communities

It has been an extremely difficult time for Nepal, first with the  massive earthquake that hit Nepal on 25th April and 12th May 2015, and most recently the blockade  from September 23, 2015. This has severely affected the economy of Nepal as well as all aspects of life. We faced an acute shortage of fuel, cooking gas, essential medicines and goods and still are. Adding to this is the power outage of almost 14 hours a day. Inspite of all these difficult time,   people are travelling on the roofs of the vehicles taking risks on a daily basis and trying to make a semblance and balance.

This has made our work difficult but  has not affected Tewa and Nagarik Aawaz's mission of working to rebuild communities after  the earthquake. The work of Shadow Barefoot Volunteers - Hamro Tewa Gaun Ghar Ma and Building Lives and Inspiring Hopes are ongoing. Tewa has deployed volunteers in 6 different earthquake affected districts and the feedback received from the community is gratifying. The Building lives Inspiring Hopes led by Nagarik Aawaz with the youth psycho social volunteers is ongoing in 5 districts and a much needed program. Field visits have been made by Board, members and staff on a regular basis as well as multi stakeholder meetings and the community has acknowledged the importance of both the programs and the uniqueness of them.

. Case1:

 Lumari of Sindhupalchowk is the community teacher of disabled children, who himself is also visually impaired.  Tewa volunteers helped him construct 15 houses of corrugated sheets for 45  physically challenged children. Lumaril is helping these children to study and supporting them with food.  Our HTG volunteers teach the children everyday for an hour or two about morals, values culture and boost their self confidence.  

 

 

 

 

 

Case II:

In Jharuwarashi, Lalitpur, Tewa led HTG volunteers have been busy supporting the community  in the rebuilding  activities.  They have supported Yosodha , 35, who is a single woman neglected by her family, by helping her build a temporary shelter.  The volunteers will be engaging her and other disadvantaged women for a tailoring training since there is high demand and interest from the community. This will give them some bare minimum sustenance as well as boost their self confidence. 15 women were trained on tailoring cloth shopping bags as well as incense sticks making.

 

Picture: Yashoda Khadga -middle

In all the 6 districts similar economic activity trainings as well as cooking classes are ongoing. Along with the trainings the volunteers have formed local women's groups so that through organizing the women, collectively they can share about their problems, learn about women's rights and advocate for their rights. The strengthening of women's agency is  ongoing, continuous and important .

The Building Lives/Inspiring Hopes BL/IH programme led by NA, went to Barpak, Gorkha for a follow up on their mentoring and backstopping support to the youths who have been trained with psycho social counselling, in the  earthquake affected districts (L – follow-up visit in Barpak, Gorkha. Although the psycho social counsellors/youth are facing challenges owing to high expectations from their community/s, the 20 youths who are engaged currently in 5 districts, who have gained the trust and confidence from the local community members are continuously listening to the communities and providing them the required counselling.  They feel the need for regular skills building and follow-ups.  The NA team from the CEO, Board Chair has gone on these follow-up and monitoring visits.  

Inspite of extreme cold and difficulty to travel due to the blockade and shortage of fuel, our work went smoothly and unhindered.  Regarding HTG, in Sindhupalchok, under the leadership of Tewa grantee group, women's groups were formed in all the 9 wards of the VDC. These groups worked on women issues and strengthening women's agency including voice, choice, and independent thinking. It also worked towards economic empowerment of women in the community through different skills based training like bangle and hair clip making.  A cooking training was conducted for 27 mothers with support from health center volunteers where they were trained on preparing tradition porridge for infants (lito). Likewise, there is sewing training, which is ongoing with the involvement of 18 women who are making warm clothes for the winter.  Apart from these plans are underway to contribute finically towards purchasing land for two community schools - Bhagbati Nimna Madhemik Bidhalaya at Mandre, and Narad Pokhari School in Gojay at Ward no 2 and 3 respectively.  These schools, which have 200 students, were completely destroyed by the earthquake of 25th April 2015.  In addition to helping and supporting the women in the community/s, at large the volunteers are supporting to buy materials for the construction of the community clinic. Likewise the most needy 210 individuals have been distributed with warm clothes to cope with the winter.

 

'In all the districts of engagements the HTG volunteers and the BL/IH youths are doing seemingly small everyday work but all of it is helping the communities stay strong improvising and rebuilding their lives. Warm clothes, nutritious food, moral support, and love – all our pictures (R – Panmaya in Sindhupalchok) tell us that the volunteers have been one of the most reassuring and motivating factors.  As envisioned this has also enabled women's ongoing agency both in ensuring rights and in any advocacy necessary or required' quote Rita, Founder,Tewa/Nagarik Aawaz.

 

 

 

Volunteers helping in dismantling houses at Jharuwarashi

 

 Volunteers teaching women to make hygienic food from the available resources at Dharmasthali: In a school


Attachments:
Dec 15, 2015

Post Earthquake Relief work

Nepal is at its most difficult transition.  The new Constitution was promulgated on 20th September but the agitation of Madhes groups started the very next day and the strike has been ongoing since over 3 months, and the undeclared India blockade is ongoing for over 9 weeks.  People have no petrol, cooking gas, and medicines.  Industries, hospitals, schools, eateries, are fast shutting down.  People affected by the earthquake in the past 8 month, who are living in makeshift tin sheds in the mid-hills and the high mountains are suffering as winter sets in – elderly, the sick, the new-born children and mothers.  There is no political resolve or government ability to ease the situations by rationing the meager goods, which has come in.  New conflicts are emerging as people loose their patience and the desperations rise. Anti blockade demonstrations by the diaspora Nepalis are taking place everywhere in the world and  the responsible world bodies are all well aware of what is happening in Nepal since the UN agencies and the EU nations are all working here, not withstanding the instantaneous social media. 

Tewa/Nagarik Aawaz (NA):

 Regarding NA led PEQ recovery programme, Building Lives & Inspiring Hopes (BL/IH), thanks to Dr. Ambreen Ahmed and Ms. Asha Basnet's the first-aid volunteers' overall wellbeing and confidence level has greatly improved.  Now 22 youths are engaging in raising awareness about psychosocial counseling and some of them have started to take individual counseling as well.  It was further shared that the local host organizations in 3 affected districts: Dhading, Sindhupalchowk and Ramechhap are backstopping the youths, but in Gorkha, there has been a gap since the local host organization is not based in Gorkha and communications is a hurdle owing to power outage/mobile charging. The program team is soon to make a follow-up visit to Gorkha and a suitable local host will be identified. 

 Regarding the Tewa led Hamro Tewa Goan-gharma (HTG) programme, in Dharmasthali 30 women were provided sewing skills and have started to engage in income generating activities.  The trainers are willing to provide the skills in Jharuarashi in a voluntary basis, which is showing a ripple effect.  In Jharuarashi the volunteers are engaged in cutting, winnowing, and storing paddy for whoever needs additional help.  The community women are requesting HTG volunteers for income generation skills like knitting and sewing, while they have already learnt candle and incense making skills.  In Dhading, the HTG Volunteers are engaged in providing tuition to the 25 displaced children displaced from Laprak. They are also educating them about health and sanitation.  In Barpak activities have been stalled due to the festivals.  In Ramechhap the volunteers provided candle-making skills to the women's group.  Provided with training, women made candles and also sold them in the time of Tihar festival and earned some money. They also built some community toilets by utilizing the local resources.  The HTG volunteers have also helped to register a women group named Paurakhi Women's Group.   The HTG is building its momentum in an alternate way where it has been observed that the larger communities are being benefited in different way.  The volunteers are connecting, coordinating, and using all their strengths to support women's agency and those who most need their help.

Tewa & NA feel that since in every district the women's groups are requesting for sewing/knitting skills, this programme will be launched to ensure warm clothes for the children and the elderly as well as engage interested people in knitting blankets.  Besides ensuring warmth it will be therapeutic for those involved, while brining in some income.  A reconvening of the HTG volunteers is scheduled for early December 3rd.

 Even during these difficult times, the Tewa/NA team visited Ramechhap on the 26th as a part of the ongoing monitoring and mentoring work.  Some of the observations of the team were:

  • Discussions with the local stakeholders helped in understanding the HTG & BL/IH initiatives at a deeper level.
  • First-aid psychosocial support workers need ongoing mentoring support.
  • The role of local host organization needs to be strengthened especially for the mentoring of the program BL/IH.
  • Regular field visit to document & assess progress of the programme is essential to strengthen the services.
  • Both the initiatives are very time and context relevant in the communities being served.
  • Diverse and broad needs of the community makes work challenging.  Youths at present still have limited skills in dealing with the broad range of cases they encounter.  In some cases making referrals is the only solution.

 

Case Study:

 

  1. Post earthquake, now that all and everything is coming to a grinding halt, and the Tarai/Madhes agitation is ongoing for the past 9 weeks, Tewa/NA has felt the need to also look into these developments in a way that can respond positively and creatively to the grantee women activists/leaders.  In relation to this, 9 Tewa grantee representatives from 5 districts, Kanchanpur, Mahottari, Dhanusha, Udayapur, and Morang, were able to come despite many challenges although 20 grantee representatives from 7 districts were invited and were trying to come.  Through ensuring their wellbeing, and careful and thoughtful deliberations, we have come to better understand the given context in the Tarai/Madhes:

 

Given this situation, which still shows no signs of abating, the consultations resulted in coming to the following conclusions:

  • failure of leadership to provide some resolve and provide relief to the people
  • the conflict is now getting more complex and multi-tiered & multi-facetted
  • conflict is being instigated by those who have a vested interest and who gain from fueling this fire.
  • silencing/shrinking of civil space; us/them situation of growing polarization, corruption/impunity, and increasing and rising desperation among the people
  • it is yet unclear whose interests are met and who will benefit, but it is for sure that all the Nepalis will suffer/lose

Tewa/NA feels that this has given more clarity and a response that may best respond/facilitate the needs of the women and the community in these districts. Some of these are as follows:

  • a resolve was made to work/live with honesty, and sincerity
  • guide one's family, demotivate family from being a part of or support the troubles/andolan which is instigated for political interests…
  • provide any possible support to survivors
  • be mindful of ones own self care/lead a disciplined life and get out of stress, by simple living/high thinking
  • use local production/produce and use cycle/walk
  • support one another and lend a helping hand to those who need (on either side)
  • create spaces to understand, create awareness amongst one another
  • put pressure on the state for addressing corruption, addressing human rights and come to a consensus to resolve this conflict and the blockade

Conclusions: 

It does not look like anything will be resolved in the near future and Nepalis are going to have a hard time for a long time.  Our hands seem to be tied-up.  But there is a resolve in our teams that we will not leave a stone unturned to continue supporting our PEQ programmes or the Tarai/Madhes grantees facing the emerging conflicts.

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