Monday, June 9, 2014

June 7th: Final thoughts and a return to Nepal

Shortly after leaving India, we found out about an incident that happened in a village where three women were raped while trying to find privacy to go to the bathroom in the desert. It put our whole project into a better perspective and made us grateful that the village of Morra where we worked will have a safe, clean and private bathrooms for women. It's not exactly a project that you think of as being important right off the bat, but we realized just how important it will be.

Jatan is a wonderful organization and they do so much in so many different villages - it's remarkable. I'd also like to point out that Kailash. Jatan's director, is the nicest and calmest man in the world. He has set up Jatan with a good philosophy and strong foundation. I really liked how when we were at the office for lunch and chai breaks, we were treated as any other employee or volunteer was, and were not given "celebrity status" as they would call it. We had meals cooked for us, but after meals, everyone washed their own dishes by hand. The office workers continued their work while we were there and we often had to be quiet while they were on the phone or working. I just appreciated how they welcomed us kindly, but then took us seriously and treated us the same they treat all their employees. It stood out to me because the work they do is to promote gender equality and fairness, so it's great that this philosophy starts within the organization itself.

We were made to write a daily report for Jatan every day about what we did and what we learned. Every day a different person wrote the report. We would often meet at the dinner table before eating, for a sort of reflection on the day, and finish our daily report then and there. At this time we might also write the blog post for the day. It gave us a chance to talk about what we were doing and check in every day. It was so great, and it is something that other team leaders may find helpful. If I ever lead a trip again, I will for sure do this because it helped everyone (the NGO and ourselves).

So from India, I came straight to Nepal. That was about 2 days ago now. When I arrived in Nepal, I met my mom here and we met Dinesh and Nura from Creating Possibilities Nepal, as well as their families and they had us for dinner. We met Michelle from IWEN which is another Canadian partner organization supporting CP Nepal along with Developing World Connections. It was really special to see Nura and Dinesh after one year after my first DWC volunteer trip, and share stories! I may even be going back to Dang and visiting the classroom that I helped build last year!

Vita Sackville-Hii
DWC U30 Team Leader
May 2014

Monday, June 2, 2014

June 1st: A final namaste in poetic form

A final namaste (a poem for my team and for our new friends):

4 weeks ago our team left Canada
Vienna, Vikas, Eunice, Vita, Ana and Mariana.
We met Jatan and our guide Chirag-Ji,
who introduced us to India - the culture and biscuits called Parle-G.
Chirag rapped to Akon.
Our car had air-con.
Many carries were shared, and cows and camels scared,
as we ventured through the Rajasthani desert.

One day we visited a temple.
We went to a health centre and women's empowerment meetings.
We embraced new situations with patience,
and gave children and villagers namaste greetings.

Our team's flexibility was admired by all.
We worked in the 40 degree heat and thankfully no one had a fall.

One weekend we took a bus and a train.
We made it inside just before the rain.

We played Stella Stella ola with our new friends.
It really felt like our routine would never come to an end.

Many funny things happened every day.
Encounters with wildlife, public transportation, and just funny things people say.

Despite a language barrier in communication,
We managed to finish a bathroom's foundation.

We never imagined to become so attached
to people and places as we travel.
But with an exceptional group, brought together by fate,
We will not soon forget India and the warm dusty gravel.

Taking part in women's empowerment meetings and gatherings in small villages around the district of Rajsamand
Pooja, our good friend who came to the worksite every day and even helped carry rocks and cement.
Uur young friends at the worksite
A woman who worked at a laundry shop in Udaipur with her grandson.
Saying goodbyes and giving thanks to Jatan for this experience.

Vita Sackville-Hii
DWC U30 Team Leader
Udaipur, India May 2014