Summary of HandswithHands activities in 2014:
THANKYOU!! 2014 has been a very fruitful year in the development of all of our projects in Nepal I'm very happy to be reporting. I wish to give a super big thank you to everybody who has helped either financially or with time and energy in helping to achieve so much in our endeavours this year. Without your many hands helping together we would not have this level of development underway – and I don't really know how to convey how much the support continues to ripple outwards in the communities but perhaps you can catch a glimpse through some of my words in the pictures here below. Please feel welcomed to come and join one of my next trips to Nepal and experience some of the energy directly for yourself
Helping Sibjan to get to USA for Clinton Global young leaders conference: Sibjan (SMILES) has been dedicated the past few years to developing a new outreach project called ICT for Agriculture, which is a tool using mobile phones to educate and inform rural communities on a variety of topics, from diseases in agriculture, market prices, health initiatives and much more. In March 2014 he was invited to join the Clinton Global Young Leaders conference in Arizona University in USA and we happily supported him to join this event, which has continued to inspire and evolve his ICT project. Sibjan’s inspiration is having major ripples in a growing number of communities in rural Nepal – and - he is healthily mentoring Nepalese youth in making a difference.
Chitwan microcredit project – ongoing growth and development: Our microcredit outreach program continues to evolve and grow. This year we provided training in basic veterinary knowledge for our members, advanced sewing skills and an advanced 5-day intensive in accountancy for cooperative management, in which the older children of some of our members also participated. We provided field visits to other cooperatives and supported our Jutpani Board members to attend national cooperatives day at the local district office. We have also provided additional software support and an inverter/battery pack to ensure their office can stay operational even during power outages (which is often 12-14 hrs. a day) Our membership continues to grow, now over 800, involving more women (& a few men!) to enable them to establish their own income producing business and to grow out of the poverty cycle. It is so heartening to see our members become empowered and contributing to developing their own community.
Supporting Dang community Health clinic: Dang is located in the Western region of Nepal, and we worked in conjunction with the local community hospital to provide a free Health clinic in one of the poorer village areas. HwH provided the medical supplies and the doctors donated their time and skills for free. More than 200 community members gained check-ups and received medical treatment. Some of these participants would normally never have medical support; it was very heartening to see their grateful response and enthusiasm to participate in this programme.
Bhaktapur Self-Sustaining Children - Home building development: We have been busy adding two stories to our Children Home in Bhaktapur, which is enabling more room for our growing family and allows us to comply with the increasing guidelines of Child Welfare in Nepal requiring additional space. We still have finishing to be done with electrics and plumbing and painting, however the main structural work is now completed. We also helped establish a more secure water source for the Home, providing piping and labour to install this, plus new sewerage installation to comply with new local rules and ensure our water supply is uncontaminated. Our Children (20) at Bhaktapur Home continue to grow and develop, school results continue to improve and general health improvements for some of our children who came with very poor background in health. Additionally our organic farm is becoming more established providing healthy vegetables, egg and milk for daily use and our ‘team’ more and more a family feeling. The laughter and playful energy are now a daily part of our Home environment; as well our children are learning natural, cultural practices that will serve then in their longer life. We continue to provide support for schooling and every-day expenses, along with providing for the inevitable health expenses that children need that are part of raising such an extensive family!
Annapurna Self-Sustaining Children Home ongoing development: We have this past year helped to build the additional ‘boys rooms’ plus verandah/patio area which serves for covered play area plus functions, meditation and study area. We have also provided for additional support to extend our organic farming with the addition of one more cow and a buffalo and several goats. Plus we have continued to support with the sponsorship of school fees and additional daily expenses that our ever expanding Home requires! The continuation of developing our new organic farmland has continued with planting our orchard of over 500 fruit trees plus developing new crops, providing growing long-term sustainability for our Home. We currently have 31 children plus 5 full time mothers. As well as Sarada who serves as a full time volunteer manager. This past November we held a special function to celebrate the help of the local community, many who contribute with discounts in their shops (e.g. for school uniforms; hardware items etc.) or provide mentoring or other support. It was a special coming together occasion and reminded me deeply of what we are really achieving here all together with many, many hands!
Talamarang School - ongoing development and support: Last year we helped through TEAM Nepal to fund the facilitation of Talamarang school upgrading to provide class 11 and 12 – we now are happy to report our first class “11” students (38 students) of which 70% are girls are completing their year of study successfully! We have also initiated the building of a study room/library particularly for the classes 11 & 12, but also for all students. This project should be completed mid 2015. We currently have 600+ students enrolled, with numbers increasing each year. We have been involved with Talamarang School now for fourteen years and it so rewarding to see the significant development and sustainability that the school has evolved into.
Supporting Ulrini School: (In collaboration with TEAM Nepal) Ulrini is a Tamang village up the mountain from Talamarang School. Ulrini school did not have any reliable water source for the 80 students plus teachers we supported by providing the materials to pipe water for both drinking and for sanitary purposes. The school in Ulrini village currently has classes up to fourth class. Children who wish to further study must travel to Talamarang School, traversing across a rather strong river to reach from their village area to the walkways to take them down to Talamarang village. There has not been an adequate bridge; in the non-monsoon time the local villagers construct logs across stones to make a temporary bridge. During the monsoon time, basically they are cut off which means the children essentially miss in every year three months of school minimum – the monsoon has been strong then it can be up to 4 or five months until the river is low enough to build this temporary construction. The village of Ulrini is a Tamang caste village, which is one of the lower castes and generally has very high rates of illiteracy and consequent problems that come from lack of education. From my own experience of now 15 years supporting in Nepal with various different social project work I can truly say that education makes a huge difference, especially as girls are educated. The lack of education can lead to high levels of poverty, distress, illnesses and so much more; the positive being healthier communities, proactive initiatives empowering individuals and communities out of poverty cycles and happier lives. I have become a huge advocate of the phrase "education does make a difference" The community of Ulrini was very excited that we were supporting them to build a bridge, they were providing all of the manual labour and we were providing the materials. They were so excited to get started and ensure that the bridge was built before the upcoming monsoon. Indeed they were successful to accomplish the aim of completing the bridge before the monsoon, to the great delight not only to the children but also to the entire village – however misfortune prevailed and the monsoon was much more intensive in this particular area this season. And unfortunately our wonderful new bridge became the victim of a landslide – landslides being very common during the monsoon season. The entire community was very upset about this outcome, not only about the loss of the newly constructed bridge but also to inform us the donors about the event. In November when I visited to the location it was a very touching and moving experience. I had already had my suspicions that such a misfortune had happened as in this region some short 60 km away a very severe landslide had occurred which resulted in the death of several hundred people and as I had not received any positive news about the bridge I had begun to suspect some misfortune befallen. The community also informed me that as a consequence of the entire process they had reached out to the government to ask for help in the rebuilding for some specialised engineering support and some compensation due to the extreme monsoon weather. Just as I was writing this report I was informed that had a positive response and there will be some funds from the government that will help in the reconstruction, and once again the villages will be applying their own efforts and labour to ensure this secondary success. I also learned that our helping initially to construct the bridge has allowed the village to apply to the government in this situation whereas if they had not had the bridge they would not have received any support whatsoever from the government. So in a funny way our help as initiated now bigger and I sincerely hope longer lasting bridge!
A personal highlight of 2014 for me was to meet a young man whom I supported in 2005 to have open heart surgery – he was 11 yrs. at the time and now he is 20 yrs old and studying to be a teacher, with a fire and passion for education. What were heart-touching were his comments that the support he had received via me had inspired him to continue to help others and how much his opportunity to have a good education has created opportunity in his own life and how he wants that for all children.
I hope that you have received in reading this note some heartfelt glimpses of how your support is making a difference in the lives of people in Nepal! Once again a huge thank you for you ongoing support – without it I cannot be doing my side of the contribution! And a reminder in case you a curious, I pay all my own expenses in my Nepal travels to ensure all donations arrive to the projects directly. I will once again be in Nepal in April and October/November 2015 if you would like to come and join for a visit please be in touch Here
Thank you to everyone who has already been supporting our various projects – your support has far reaching impact. It is not only the financial support that you have provided but also the energy and intention along with it equally has an impact. I don't really know how to bring this across to you if you have not visited yet to Nepal, but if you have visited to our projects you will have more understanding of what I mean. The best way I can try to convey this is that as we financially support these initiatives by our Nepali friends to make a difference in their own lives and communities they feel supported and encouraged to continue to be involved in developing and expanding many of the projects. What I have come to realise over the years of being involved in this work is that when we can give this encouragement to say "yes, you can do this, I know you can” is that it has such a profound ongoing ripple effect that is much wider than we realise.