Our last steps hand-in-hand

It’s been exactly 2 weeks since we returned from our second home in Nepal. After getting used again to the luxury of Europe, I am missing everything there. We made some friends and now I get some updates about how they are doing on Facebook. One of the local volunteers just got married and they sent some pictures. We also made friends with 2 guys who were working in a construction site close to our working site and we went out in Kathmandu together, went to a rock concert. There’s a striking contrast between the vibe of Kathmandu and the village. For example, these friends listen to Pink Floyd instead of the top hit in Okhaldhunga “Kutu ma kutu”.

My feeling about our work are mixed. I think we made a great effort to do the best we can and stayed serious about it until the end but of course, that does not secure that it will make a real impact. Now that we started to really understand the language and converse with the locals, got into the culture, it is over. I wish we could have stayed longer because our work from now on could become even more effective.

Our last project was conducting awareness campaigns for local women on health topics like breast cancer and cervix cancer prevention. I think it was the most important and effective part of our 5-month-long work in the meaning of making an impact. We visited the women in all wards, where they waited for us and gathered in groups of 15-20. I was happy with the programme because it was colourful and we could keep their attention well enough. I was stressed in the beginning, because nor Monika nor I was experienced in teaching, but it went well thanks to the women, who were interested and welcoming. Of course, it was not easy because often some arrived later or left earlier and they had to bring their babies, which made the sessions rather noisy. We made the teaching in Nepali language with the help of our coordinator, who translated every sentence for us and of our local volunteer who corrected our pronunciation from time to time. Women were very active and funny moments often occurred, for example, they started the self-breast-examination during the classes or started to undress to show us some ‘suspicious signs’. It was a very rewarding feeling, that now we could understand their jokes and humour and we could laugh together with them. The sad thing was, that a lot of women told us almost sarcastically “Haha, you should tell this to my husband!”. Because thing is, that in rural Nepal it’s man who makes all decisions, including the ones about health and health services. Hospital services have a fee, which makes the matter even worse. This feeling of ‘not having the opportunity to make your own choices’ is part of the life of young girls and women there. Seeing them putting up with that was distressing and it was hard for me to deal with it emotionally.

The final evaluation went well and it was quite productive, partly because with the other 5 volunteers we became a real group working very well with each other, partly because VIN was open-minded with our ideas and proposals. We worked hard to prepare a smoother ground for the following volunteers, I hope they will be as inspired by Okhaldhunga as we are. So next volunteers: you are always welcome to get in touch, if you need advices or help and all the best wishes for your mission in beautiful Okhaldhunga!

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