A Small Initiative Leading to Priceless Happiness

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The locals having received relief material watch over how the rest of the community is handed the basic goods (Sanogaun, Sankhu-01)

From an early age, I developed a liking for community work. The activities would entail cleaning the neighborhood, helping juniors in understanding their course materials, attending Training of Trainers (TOT) sessions etc. Until now, I have always found myself sharing these experiences in place of many other endeavors that I have undertook. Sometimes I even feel redundant and ask myself “why the same experiences?” I then came to realize that those were one of the most satisfying moments in my life. Those experiences became the foundation of my passion. I believe that not only me but most of the people get priceless satisfaction bringing smile on others. However, at the present moments thousands of people have become homeless and many have lost their family members and relatives due to earthquake and its continuing aftershocks since 25 April 2015. I could not stay idle from the 2nd day of the earthquake, so I started doing everything I could. During my attempt to ease affected people’s lives, I visited Sankhu.

On 20 May 2015, four of the members of Daayitwa Abhiyaan, Natasha Kafle, Ganden Ukyab, Sofia Maharjan and I went to Sanogaun (ward no. 1), Sankhu to distribute relief materials.

A few days before going to Sankhu, I was very tensed and worried. I contacted two of the local members to figure out the immediate needs there. I made sure to follow up, and confirm that materials we were to provide were the ones they actually needed. For the need assessment, the contact persons were initially reluctant to carry out the study as they were worried of being seen asbiased,and having to be the reason for inciting internal conflict, for dissatisfaction of local members were a high a possibility. However, I wanted them to be able to take the lead and make decisions for sustainability and increasing their participation in contributing to their society. After explaining them the importance of their involvement in need assessment they agreed to help me. Then, with the help of the fund collected from the Nepal Rising Campaign, we were able to purchase the required materials.

Another challenge was to make sure that we do our best to justify people based on their needs and utilize the fund wisely. As Sankhu is within Kathmandu valley where there is ample amount of agricultural land, I had to find a way to provide food materials to the ones in urgent need. I discussed with the contact persons of Sankhu and decided to provide food materials to local people who have lost their houses, whereas provide mosquito net and sanitary pad to all the households as majority of people were sleeping in tents due to the fear of strong aftershocks. However, I could imagine a messy crowd anxious to receive help. Giving two different packages of relief materials for the people of the same area would be a difficult task. I thought of a lot of options and discussed with my team mates. One thing was sure that whatever we plan, it won’t be thesame in the field.

We reached Sanogaun and I could recognize some familiar faces whom I met in the last meeting. After a quick introduction among the local members and Daayitwa team, we went to observe the place which was completely destroyed by the earthquake. A little far from the settlement area, all of us sat and discussed about what to do next. They shared their woe of not having access to market, which consequently led to these materials not being sold, and hence, rotten potatoes and lack of income would ensue.The Daayitwa team proposed the local members to consider the prospects of potatoes being sold in a cheaper price out of Kathmandu valley in the form of relief materials. In addition, we discussed the potential of operating temporary learning centre and one of the local members took the leadership.

After a brief sharing session, we then dispatched to distribute relief materials. As soon as we reached near the truck with relief materials, people started joining us, which was gradually getting my nerves, as I initially feared. One of the local members then suggested me to clarify the rationale of having two types of relief packages. As per her suggestion, I announced the fact. With the help of the list created by our contact persons, we distributed the materials, which surprisingly took place in an organized way. One of the local member said, “I am very glad that you brought mosquito net.” I was relieved to hear that statement. Mosquito net is a sustainable solution to mosquito coils and a “life-saving” tool for the ones sleeping in tents.

At the end of the day, everyone was happy: having to ease people’s lives and having received assistance. One of the local members said “We are a family. You helped us in need and we want to give you potatoes to share our happiness.” The entire community had lost their houses. They were perplexed on how to move ahead and resume their daily lives. Despite these hurdles, they showed great generosity, which was priceless.

We then bid them goodbye sitting on the back of the truck with sacks of potatoes we received as a gift.

About the writer: Ms. Rasani Shrestha is a 2015 Daayitwa Winter Fellow working on the project ‘Policy Analysis in Finance Committee’ with Hon. Mr. Uday Shamsher Rana.You can reach her at rasani.shrestha@auw.edu.bd