Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Back in the field

The three weeks in Kathmandu has passed and I am back in Terai for a week before going on Christmas holiday. It is good to be back in the warmer climate, though the winter is also felt here in the cool nights.

It has been planned for a long time that I this week would go to Surkhet with my colleagues from CWD. Surkhet is a district two hours drive north of where I live and an area I have not visited yet.

We had planned to leave Monday morning but due to a bad storm the night before it was postponed till Tuesday. At first I believed it to be the Nepali fear of rain that has caused this delay but once I saw the road and the many landslides I was quite glad that we had waited.
Not more than 50 km. from my house the hills starts (or what we in Denmark would call mountains). It was an incredible beautiful road but also in a very poor condition because of the many landslides. On top of that it is a very narrow road with some mighty big buses coming towards us. My colleagues were quite impressed with the beautiful views which included the snowcapped mountains of the Himalayas. Unfortunately, I had to keep both eyes on the road with less time to enjoy the views.

We reached Chhinchun County without problems and were able to start the programme of the day which basically consisted of introducing me to our groups in the area. Surkhet is an area that has been badly affected by the conflict and great parts of the district have been under Maoist control. This means that my colleagues have been hesitant to visit the area and our groups here have received few visits from CWD throughout the last 10 years. It was quite easy to feel the dissatisfaction within our groups and they had also decided to act upon the lack of support by starting their own organisation. In principal a good idea expect for one thing; they have no money!
They had hoped for help from MS but I had to inform them that that was rather unlikely. Instead, I offered to give them training in proposal writing in order for them to apply for funds from other organisations in the area. Now that peace has come to Nepal the money is pouring in from all sides and it is necessary to join the “race for funds”. It looks to be an interesting project for me to start on, even though it seems I would have to spend some time with these women first to ensure that they take an active part in the process. I have no idea of which organisations there are in the area so that is where they would have to step in – something I sensed they were not too keen on.
No matter what the first step will be to go to the office tomorrow and talk to my colleagues about our possibilities for supporting these women in starting their own organisation and then take it from there. One thing is for sure, though, I hope to return to Surkhet soon, since it is an incredible beautiful area.