September 3rd-4th VSO Nepal arranged a 2 day workshop between 11 (relatively) newly arrived VSO volunteers and their respective partners. Though previously a standard part of the in-country induction program the workshop had not been able to be realised for the last 3+ years. Personally, it was great to be part of the re-launch workshop. The volunteers and partner organisations spanned a wide range of disciplines, professions and geographic regions all coming together to ensure we can cooperate effectively with the common aim of overcoming poverty in Nepal. The workshop incorporated;
- 3 focus project areas for VSO Nepal of Quality Education, Improved Maternal & Reproductive Health plus Livelihood Enhancement
- Partners from Nepal Government representatives, local NGOs and grass roots organisations.
- Mid and Far-Western remote mountainous regions through to the flat plains of the Terai region bordering India – all represented!
#1 The workshop took place at the Yala Maya Kendra venue in Patan. A beautiful setting and the event started with this as my view for breakfast – how to get in a good frame of mind for the workshop;
#2 Then on up to the equally lovely meeting room to get started with the workshop and most importantly to meet my counterpart, the Program Officer for Large Biogas plants at AEPC (Alternative Energy Promotion Centre) where I will soon (depending on visas) start my placement;
#3 As well as providing the partners with more information about VSO we worked together to define effective partnership parameters and also worked on trying to artistically represent and share our personalities with our new partners. For those of you who know me personally, you can let me know how accurate this was (given the 1 minute warning and 5 minute deadline!)
#4 Tea breaks and a breath of fresh air were provided at regular intervals throughout the day. I am learning that the offering and sharing of a cup of tea in Nepal is extremely important for building relationships which many of my British friends and relatives will identify with. Personally I am still only interested in the biscuits so I may need to work out a strategy for this;
#5 We spent time reviewing together the concept of culture and how culture may effect international working relationships with a particular focus on working in Nepal. We also discussed the cross cutting VSO theme of gender in overcoming poverty and how we can work to improve the standing and involvement of local women in all our work;
#6 As the two day session drew to a close the VSO staff, volunteers and partners all summed up the positive feeling and deeper mutual understanding that the workshop had engendered. For my part, I also left newly invigorated to get started in working with my counterpart and the whole AEPC team on Biogas for Nepal;
Just before I get to start my placement though, my challenge of getting to grips with the language continues in earnest. That will probably be next week’s blog post focus…