Hanging in Ilam
Caroline Williams, USA
Since returning from the village of Namsaling we have not been incredibly busy in Ilam. This has actually been nice because Stephanie and I have had time to do a lot of reflecting regarding our future careers. Stephanie has been thinking about what area of work she would like to pursue and I have been looking into a few grad schools and beginning to prepare my applications. We’ve also hung out at the NCDC office each day for a few hours to learn a bit more about the organization and also hang out with our friends for a bit.
My Friend, Amol
This week has especially been nice because I’ve been able to hang out with my friend from last year who is incredibly sweet, Amol. We’ve been able to reminisce about last year’s Engineering for Developing Communities (EDC) course, I was able to tell him how this year’s EDC course went in China, and he was also able to tell me about the few months he spent in Sweden this past year. It was especially great to hear about his time in Sweden because he seemed to really enjoy the course he took and he also told me about the job he had while he was there. He shared how he was a dishwasher and he was surprised by how different their method of dishwashing was so different compared to the method in Nepal. In addition, he also said he worked at the coat check at a club twice a week and said how he wouldn’t charge co-workers as well as pretty girls and after the club would close he was able to get free food and drinks.
Two months after Amol returned from Sweden, he was recruited to join the NCDC team and has enjoyed his time with this organization thus far. Amol works in the governance sector at NCDC where he works on the socio-economic areas relating to the creation of Sustainable Development Plans (SDP) for villages in Nepal. With this, Amol was able to inform us about the process of creating a SDP for village which we found quite interesting.
I would share the details of this process but I don’t think the majority of the audience for this blog would be interested in reading it all. To summarize though, NCDC first assists villages with creating their own SDP by collecting and interpreting household interview data throughout the village. Then they facilitate a discussion with community members so that they can develop their own goals for a 5-year plan. The community members then work on developing a detailed plan for each of their goals which includes a timeline, budget, resource list, etc. Finally, NCDC will publish the SDP (in Nepali of course) and hand it over to the village for them to implement on their own. Ideally, the village will be able to do this whole process on their own five years later to create a new plan without the assistance of NCDC.
Migrant Nepalese Workers
Following our discussion about SDPs, we also discussed an interesting fact about Nepal in how 3 million of its people work outside of the country (Nepal’s total population is nearly 30 million). Many work in the Middle East, Qatar being a popular location; or they will work in Southeast Asia, such as Malaysia. The reason this happens is because the young laborers who are often unskilled can get work abroad that will pay more than they would receive in Nepal and then they can send this money home. Unfortunately, many of these people face very poor working conditions or get tricked into bad situations, but this is not how all of the migrant work is.
I had heard a lot about this last year and felt quite concerned about this. Because much of Nepal’s younger adults outside of the country, it has resulted in less support within Nepalese communities, especially within villages. On the other hand, Amol was able to share a different perspective in that it’s okay for these people to be abroad because otherwise they would simply be unemployed within the country of Nepal and would probably cause many uprisings or instability. Nepalese are also able to see how it is outside the country and may also be able to eventually come home with new ideas and sometimes more motivated to improve things. So overall, there are both positive and negative aspects regarding the Nepalese migrating to work abroad; and as long as the government remains in the condition it is, (without a national constitution as well as little order) this migrant work with continue to exist.
It has been a pleasure to spend the past 1.5 weeks with the NCDC staff. This past week, we have spent a good amount of time at the Ilam NCDC office and it’s a wonderful place to be. The office feels quite homey and you can tell that the workers here are like one big family. Overall, I feel honored to have been invited to spend time with NCDC and now feel a part of the NCDC family.
A Fun Night with Friends
On Tuesday, we suggested to hang out with a few friends from NCDC that night because we were leaving Ilam on Thursday and thus had a limited time with our new friends. We especially wanted to hang out with our friend, Pradeep, because he was awesome to hang out last week in Namsaling, but we weren’t able to see him a lot during our time in Ilam.
This ended up turning into a fun night where eight of us went to a restaurant on top of a hill and were able to eat a bunch of snacks and drink a bit. Stephanie ordered some beer but I decided to order some rum because I thought it would be better on my stomach. I forgot though how it would be served to me straight and the only mixer I had was warm water. But I was somewhat use to this style of drinking because this is how we had to drink the raksi last week. It would’ve been lovely if I had some Coke or something to mix with it. but I guess I’ll just wait to get home to enjoy some good ol’ rum ‘n’ coke.
Following the restaurant we went to the community’s bingo which was a lot different than what we expected. It was outside in the sort of town square and people sat around with their bingo pieces of paper. The board itself was also different than what we were used and we couldn’t really understand the scheme of it all because it was all announced in Nepali, but we still enjoyed the atmosphere. People of all ages came together in the faintly lit area to listen to the call of numbers in hoping they would win big. Our group seemed a bit hopeful because last week, one of our friends won 9,000 NRS ($90) and they were hoping to win again.
This bingo event happens every evening for about a month during the time between two big festivals here. The first festival already happened and it was around October 6 and the second festival is happening now and will end on Saturday. This current festival is special because people will hang lights, kind of like how we do for Christmas at home, so the bingo scenery also had a few sights of these sort of lights.
Overall, it was a great time and we were glad we were able to experience it with such great people.
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