Saturday, September 10, 2011

Final Report for Making Lives Better

Title of the Project
Making Lives Better

Project Location
Eight Districts of Nepal
(Solukhumbu, Okhaldhunga, Salyan, Lamjung, Tanahun, Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur)                                                  

Home Institution
Westminster College, Fulton MO

Pradipti Rajbhandari, Westminster College, MO
Sneha Bhandari, Westminster College, MO
Raghabendra Pratap KC, Rollins College, FL
Sajala Pandey, Smith College, MA

Section I
With a strong intention of making the lives of thousands of Nepali children better and healthier, we set out on a mission to promote the importance of clean drinking water through the installation of water purifiers. Access to clean drinking water is a basic necessity; however, a significant proportion of the Nepalese population is deprived of this very minimal level of comfort. There exists a significant correlation between clean drinking water and healthier and more productive children. Children in good health today can become industrious citizens of the society, and help build peace and prosperity in the future.
Project expansion was always one of our main concerns and hence, we held multiple fund raisers throughout the academic year to financially support our goal. Two of our major on campus fund raisers were “Dine for Nepal” dinner and a handicraft sale. Besides these, once in Nepal we sought financial help from various business organizations; all of these efforts combined with the generous funding from the Davis Foundation took our project to a whole new level.
Working with a local organization, Sagarmatha Integrated Development Centre in Nepal made the entire site navigation process a lot more efficient. Furthermore, partnering with an international group like Water Aid allowed us to add the WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) dimension to the project. Henceforth, our project not focused on a much wider aspect, installation of water purifiers and promotion of the importance of sanitation and hygiene. The extensive fund raisers that we organized allowed us to cover 34 schools instead of the 10 that we had originally planned for. In addition to the finances, we had the support of multiple volunteers who put their heart and soul in the project, to make sure things worked out well. Both of us being the residents of Nepal, we were very comfortable with the location and never faced any cultural restraint. The warm hospitality of the host schools and the community as a whole made our project an experience of a lifetime. In spite of the extensive level of planning to ensure the smooth functioning of the project, we did run into some minor technical difficulties. Few of the locations that we had chosen differed significantly from what the management had described it to be; in other words those schools used peltric set for electricity generation that did not support the minimum voltage requirement for the machines. Hence, we had to draw back from those schools with orientation only. However, our partner organization had multiple selections that we could choose from.
Our target group mainly included school children in the rural areas of Nepal, our project as a whole benefitted nearly 15,000 students. However, the actual impact is expected to be even larger as our orientation highly emphasized on spreading knowledge throughout the community about clean water and hygiene. Despite the fact that our project was at a grass roots level, the project is expected to have a positive impact both in the short-term and the long-term. With the clean drinking water and better hygiene habits that we expect them to follow, each child will become a much healthier individual with better school attendance. Into the future, with a well educated and a healthier workforce will bring about the bright future for the nation and ultimately for the world as a whole. We mark this project as a beginning to our life long endeavor and commitment to serve the global community as a whole.

Section II
Peace today is more than just the absence of war; it is the idea of being able to live happily with a sense of belonging to the entire global community. For us, a peaceful life strongly correlates with healthier and happier life. Our project mainly targeted the most vulnerable group in this area of Nepal who had the potential to benefit from and live up to our definition of peace. Lack of clean drinking water caused our project areas to face a significant amount of health risks due to water borne diseases. Hence, following the installation of the water purifiers we hope that the total number of children affected by these diseases would be drastically altered. In addition to the filters and water bottles that we distributed, we also talked to the children about water borne diseases, hygiene and sanitation, and alternative ways of water purification. The main purpose behind this was to ensure that the project impact spread across the community. Looking into the future, we hope that these children will develop the feeling of giving back to the society and be supportive of each other. With healthier lives and better education, we believe these children will build a nation that we always have hoped for, as residents of Nepal.
The project not only worked to benefit the children but also the project members as well. The entire process, starting with the initial research to the actual implementation taught us much more than we had expected. It was a learning experience like never before; it was the hands on experience that we actually needed to implement what we had learned. We complain when we have a fifteen minute power cut because of a storm, we complain when we do not get a good reception on our cell phones, we complain about not being able to travel after a heavy snowfall and so on! But now we realize, there is a bigger portion of the world that has to struggle for a 15 minute access to electricity, they will probably never own a cell phone and their world is pretty much limited to their household.
One of the places that we visited during our trip did not have any kind of vegetable because their land was not fertile enough and furthermore, lacked the access to a form of transportation to get it from elsewhere.  All they had for their meals were rice and potatoes, and yet we complain about not having enough restaurants in places we live. We were surprised to see that such a place even existed within a few miles from the capital city.
The project has modified the way we perceive the world in our day to day lives. Living in a community where we have everything, often times we chose to ignore the little things that give us joy. The people that we met and the sites that we saw made us realize that there is so much to see, and much more work that needs to be done in the rural areas of Nepal. More than foreign aid, we need people who are truly committed to the cause and really want to see Nepal prosper. Rather than blaming the government for not doing the job, it is up to us to make every effort possible to keep our community members involved and work for its development. Being the privileged group, it is now up to us to take that initiative and join hands to make lives better. During the course of the project, we realized that we do not need to wait for the right moment to get started on service and you do not need a million dollars to change the world, it has to come from within you.

“The wonderful opportunity that we had through the Davis Foundation allowed me to see what small efforts at an individual level could accomplish. More than a million dollar budget to make a project successful, you need committed individuals who are willing to work together for a cause. Henceforth, this project marks a beginning to my live long endeavor of making lives better around the globe.”
-Pradipti Rajbhandari

Being a part of the Projects for Peace helped me grow as a person and has made me realize the needs of the people in Nepal. I can never thank the Davis Foundation enough for this wonderful opportunity that has helped me redefine my direction in life. 
-Sneha Bhandari

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Project Summary

Number of purifiers Installed: 33
Types of purifiers Installed: 13 Classic, 10 Aquaflo, 8 Boosters, 2 Pureit
Number of Water Bottles Distributed: 1500
Complete Orientation: 34 schools
Number of Volunteers: 21
Number of Technicians Involved: 3
Areas Covered (See Mapbelow): Okhaldhunga-6, Solukhmbu-7, Kathmandu-7, Bhaktapur-2, Lalitpur-7, Lamjung-3, Tanahun-1

***Numbers indicate the schools covered in each district**

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Aama ko Ghar - Home of the Mothers

One day when Dil Shova Shrestha was walking on the street she saw a couple of helpless old ladies. Looking at their condition she decided to bring them home and look after them. At that time she was renting two of her apartments and she thought her income would be sufficient to take care of them. Today 28 elderly women and 47 children reside in "Aama ko Ghar", all of her apartments are occupied and each room has at least 4 beds. All of these people had nowhere to go. some were lying on the streets and had been raped numerous times, some had been asked to move out of their children's home, some were mentally/physically challenged and some just didn't have anywhere else to go. The 47 children had been the victims of 10 year long Maoist insurgency in the country, their parents had been killed during the war. The organization also sponsors their education.

Dil Shova Shrestha has been receiving help from many individuals but she has always had to buy water for drinking purposes. We decided to help her because installing a water purifier in "Aama ko Ghar" would save a lot of money for them that they could otherwise use to maintain the house or to pay their bills. Apart from installing the water purifier we also distributed school bags, copies, pencils and pens to all of the school going children and water bottles to everyone living there. Words can never describe our time there. It was a very heart touching experience and this day will be in our memory forever!
Mini Project Ashirwad

Dil Shova Shrestha inaugurating the machine
A blind lady feeling her bottle

The sign says "Thank you Westminster and Davis Projects for Peace

The Dorms

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A day at Jana Udaya School

After completing Project Aashirwad we still had enough stationary left for one more school, so we decided to go to Jana Udaya School in Sainbu village development committee of Kathmandu. There we distribute school bags, copies and pens to 295 students. Our motive was to give these students some kind of inspiration to study and grow up to be a good citizen of the country. Some pictures from the school:

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Day 13: End of Journey

We were happy to know that our flight was finally coming today but terrified by the sight of the runway. I had never imagined in my entire life that there would be a runway which isn't even graveled with weeds everywhere!! I took a deep breath of relief after the the aircraft took off.

The runway and the airport tower!

During the 30 minute flight I was thinking how much our entire team has gained from the project and how much we have been able to give to the people there. This entire project would never have been successful without the support of our dear friends Sajala Pandey, Raghabendra KC and Ashish Rana who traveled with us to Okhaldhunga and Solukhumbu districts. We can never forget the kindness of Mrs. Kathryn Davis who funded not just our project but 99 others just like us. Our best wishes to all the fellow project leaders for successful completion of their project and our special thanks to our sister chapter in Rollins College, Florida.

 Wait! We are not done yet, we still have to install a bunch of purifiers here in Kathmandu and the surrounding areas. Stay tuned for updates!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Day 12

We didn't have anything planned for today. We had finished all our installations but still had some posters and pamphlets left so we decided to go to a school nearby and distribute it among the students and teachers there. In the afternoon we were told that "hopefully" our flight will take off tomorrow. The flight cancellations had made us so lazy. All we did was pack our stuff and play UNO the entire day! 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Day 11

Our flight was cancelled and we had nothing to do. We had thought that it would be a good time to take some rest but we got bored and some of us decided to take a walk down to the light house. I chose to stay back because I knew I wouldn't be able to walk but the others went upto the light house, bonded with the people there, went "in" the river and came back with stories to tell me. In the evening we found out that our flight was cancelled once again for Friday and hopefully we would get to fly on Saturday.