Volunteer Blog :
Lisa's Blog : Lisa's Blog 0003 - It's all about work!
January 13, 2016; Wednesday
19:20 NST (Nepal Standard Time)
Hi Everyone! First of all: Happy 2016 from Kathmandu!
The most paradox thing about the huge gaps between my blog entries might be that once I think 'Hey. It is time for your next entry!' I tell myself that I still have some time left and then unbelievably much happens in the next days and then I always think 'I don't have enough time to type it up now, it's too much' but I mean, it gets more and more with every single day I am here .. So it should always be time to start - 'just do it' as one of my friends might say now ;-) So, here we go:
As you already might have guessed are questions like "What happened in between?" or maybe more "What happened to Lisa meanwhile that she did not find time to keep us posted for nearly one month?" not too easy to answer. The easiest would be to say: It happened a whole freaking lot, too much as I would ever be able to tell and what happened to me: I became so busy that it nearly feels like my life back in Germany where I always did... something. And sometimes I even felt a little rising panic that I won't be able to get all my things done and I was like:
... but I like the feeling to be needed - I now can proudly say that I have a whole new little (Nepali) life over here and this is what I always wanted. Now I have more to build on, to grow from and to learn from more intensively.
Within this entry I shall be focusing on my work for Hoste Hainse, because I have the feeling that I did never talk about that really detailed - even if it is kind of the main topic I should be writing about when I publish all this on the Hoste Hainse website :D . The reason for my silence on this topic might be that I actually find it quite hard to describe what I actually do here since there is no fixed volunteer program or anything comparable. Neither do I work only on one project specifically but on a broad range of tasks. These are nowadays mostly to keep the communication between Hoste Hainse and various donors going, what most of the time generates new tasks for me itself: I wrote a report on our Sindhupalchowk-trip for "Zukunft Entwickeln Bad Bentheim e.V.", one of our German partner organizations which has connections to their local newspaper and forwarded my article to this side, and a quite long article about our trip, our cooperation and the rebuilding projects in Sindhupalchowk has been published in this (small) German newspaper:
(..For my German readers who might be quite a few actually.. Of course there would have been ways to express things a bit more positively - just compare it to my own entry on our Sindhupalchowk trip. But anyway I am happy that people out there get to know what is going on over here these days.)
For 3rd Creek Foundation I generated (with the help of our accountant Santosh - without him I might literally have become crazy on this task) a data spreadsheet which helps them to find out how many students in total they supported over the last years with their budget for our projects in Sarlahi.
As I mentioned before, Krishna came up with the idea to create a short video clip on my stay here to make HH more social media friendly - so I met a professional photo- and videographer. His name is Samir Jung Thapa and he does amazing clips for e.g. WWF- and World Bank - projects. He connected me to his friend Jivan Ale who is willing to help me to put all my footage into a valuable video clip with a good voice over and all that stuff which I have NO idea about.
Apart from this we always have an eye on pushing our projects in Sindhupalchowk further. Even though the current fuel crisis which is STILL NOT OVER!!!!! stops us from starting all the earth- and construction works, we can always get more organized on this front and concentrate on better marketing for this project - such as flyers for our German donor "Chance for Life Nepal e.V." Maybe the first thing I really failed on according to the revised version which seems to be more red than black:
On the Sindhupalchowk - concern I also visited the Department of Education one day - this really has the potential to fill one whole blog entry itself. I mean, in the end I got nearly all the information I wanted but it was a looong way through email addresses which do not work, websites which are only in Nepali, people who refuse to pick up my calls because they already know that I have lot of work for them.. and finally I got there (it is a 45 minute drive from my office by car.. good chance for a little nap), once again my poor coworker Ram had been forced to join me to help me translate and, most importantly: find the right people in this confusing complex in which everybody seems to be out of their offices.. But I got what I wanted and in person all these people are really cooperative it just sometimes feels as you'd go crazy on them in case you want to make an appointment or find out some simple information via phone or mail. Of course this is a little exaggerated as well, for example when I called them for the first time they sent me an email with all what I wanted directly the day after.. But what I can say that it is not easy, even though I have the 'foreigner - special - attention - advantage'.
Apart from that I met one of Krishna's old High School friends: Prateek Adhikari, who lives in the UK nowadays and works as a lecturer and consultant in the hospitality field in Great Britain. He approached us with the wish to support Hoste Hainse with whatever he can do - from doing some voluntary work himself, putting up some Skill Development Trainings on hospitality topics (which is a field in which many HH graduates dream of to work in one day..) or involving Nepali (Hoste Hainse-) students who are interested in this field in an online teaching system of the University of Derby which would give these kids a high quality further education with international exposure through practical exchange programs even before their degree! Or what about promoting HH as great place to volunteer at as Prateek works as a lecturer and is in touch with ambitious young people continuously? There are always a lot of opportunities to help…. Our first meeting was quite spontaneous as Prateek was in the area anyway and just came by real quick - a perfect opportunity to show him around our office and the Formation Carpets section. Once again a chance to stress that our office facilities are definitely not fancy - but keeping overhead costs as low as possible should be each and every NGO's goal - my opinion. Like this, all donations can be used to educate children in Nepal directly.
My second meeting with Prateek indeed was a lot more fun! Once again a spontaneous idea: We met in Thamel, walked around Kathmandu's most touristy area for a short while, met one of Prateek's cousins with who we had great talks about Nepal, tourism in Nepal these days, women empowerment and a lot of other things - really interesting to see all these different perspectives. I have the feeling that every Nepali wants to make sure that I don't oversee this country's beauty and so Prateek took me to Basantapur where we walked around Kathmandu Durbar Square (which has been really badly damaged by the earthquake) and I came to enjoy my first Rickshaw-tour!!! #NepaliBusinessMeetings hahah
Finally, after all this great fun stuff for which I am really grateful, we had our lunch in an excellent Italian restaurant which Krishna recommended and talked about all our businesses, Hoste Hainse and volunteering here. A perfect way to combine sightseeing and business :)
That restaurant is right next to my office .. Once again it might get dangerous not to spend all my money during lunch breaks...
Great food - almost better than at home!
Meeting Prateek and Samir would probably have been Krishna's turn when he would have been around - so I felt some pressure on me to introduce them to Hoste Hainse as well as he might have done it and, of course, to make these meetings as productive and fruitful as possible. But I think it worked out quite well and at least it always made me learn a lot - also about what serious work life might be all about once I start working one day. And I think that these experiences make my stay here most valuable for me and what I might do in future times: When I applied for volunteering in Nepal I expected to go out somewhere in the field, teach, help to rebuild and work on my social skills as well as on intercultural understanding. But asides these experiences which I have in Kathmandu these days as well (even if they might not be as intense as if I would have been stranded somewhere in Nepal's rural areas .. where I still just would love to go ..) I get in touch with a lot of professional skills. What I also figured out on this topic for myself was: There were periods during my time here when I thought like ' I did not come to Nepal to stay in my office In Kathmandu all the time' and all these things but now I recognize that it took me a real long time to arrive here in Nepal entirely- and that also living in Kathmandu is something to experience once haha. And having enjoyed a good education in Germany one of the things I can do for Nepal and which is most valuable for its development's progress might be applying my 'western' way of working and communicating in Hoste Hainse's office. So I found my peace with staying in Kathmandu for now :
What started a couple of weeks ago and is surprisingly successful is the Hoste Hainse Clothes Drive where we sold slightly used clothes for 100Rs. (1USD) per piece as a fundraiser for Hoste Hainse's projects - and we were able to collect over NRs. 20,000.00 within only four days we hold the sale. Due to this we decided to expand our little clothes drive which we usually hold in front of our office on a small stall, to a fully-blown garage sale where not only clothes but also shoes, handicrafts or other household items which are donated to us by amazing people get sold for a good cause: The education of underprivileged children in Nepal! And so, if you are in Nepal and have something which does not fit in your cupboard anymore, you don't like anymore, what your ex boyfriend gifted you and you want to get rid of.. whatever.. we will be happy to take it as a donation and sell it in our garage sale!
And, last but definitely not least: We had another volunteer here with Hoste Hainse for a bit more than two weeks. Her name is Cindy, she is 56 years old and helped us a whole lot, also in this short period of time. Since Krishna and his family were on holiday for the last three weeks it was all my turn to welcome and introduce her to Hoste Hainse, give her things to work on and make sure that she has a good time- in the first days something which was really not too easy for me - now I know that also things like these, also my own start with Hoste Hainse, need a lot of energy.. Usually from Krishna's side. But all my sorrows that I might not be able to keep her busy or comfortable with us seemed to be totally unreasonable. Cindy turned out o be a very warm hearted, and ambitious person who took on every work I put on her plate with all her energy and creativity - I am really grateful for her support. And she shared my unlimited love for a good coffee - which is no Nescafe and through her I came to know quite a few awesome places around our office which offer good, organic and Nepalese coffee - there might come hard times for my travel budget.. On her last Saturday Rashmi took her with another formation Carpets coworker to Pharping. I think they had a great time:
Seeing these photos I directly put Pharping on my wish list for things to do in Nepal - why I did not join them? Because my body decided spontaneously that it would be a great time to fall sick again haha. So I look forward to a trip another time.
On jan 11th Cindy flew back to San Francisco but I think that all of us where really happy to have her around and hope that she might come back one day- she has the plan to come back after her retirement and teach in Nepal - hopefully with Hoste Hainse :) Saying good bye was really hard..
So, most of what I work on is all about renewing Hoste Hainse's outlook, updating the website, networking and keeping the donors as happy as possible. A few weeks ago I attended the Hoste Hainse Board meeting which was held every quarter and where board members can discuss and work on new and old programs - and I came to know that all these people with their different backgrounds all together build a strong backing for all Hoste Hainse activities - but once again nobody knows about it. So I started to interview all the board members on things like their biography, education, relation to Hoste Hainse and their visions for the organization and Nepal - so, basically: Why is this person an important part of the Hoste Hainse Board? And apart from getting all my answers I had the opportunity to explore a lot of new places for a good lunch in Kathmandu or one of them even invited me to his wonderful home to enjoy an inspiring talk and great food, another one to his own High School he runs in Kathmandu.
I try to learn where I can whether it is about working on development projects all over the world or how to cook Nepali dishes ;-)
Hope this gave you a little overview of what I am doing here and how I try to help Hoste Hainse and Nepal to move forward.. But I will continue to tell you little by little what I do so that maybe, maybe after a while you will get a clue.
What I do in my free time? I will let you know in my next blog entry which is going to follow soon! Have a great time, everybody!