A glimpse of November

At around this time last year, I was writing about settling into my new home and my new job. Well I guess that’s what I’m writing about again here although quite a different job and quite a different home, at least Monday to Friday;

#1 In mid-November I joined the inauguration of a new step down facility built in Chautara. Built by IOM, with the support of All Hands Volunteers, the site will to house up to 20 patients (& a carer each) who no longer require hospital treatment but do require rehabilitation support before they can return home successfully. Psychosocial support, physiotherapy, rehabilitation support all available and inaugurated by the Government District Health Officer. Just an example of the kind of project being set up and run despite the ongoing fuel crisis;

01 step down

#2 Towards the end of November Kathmandu hosted the ‘South Asia Film Festival’ where I had the joy to watch a fabulous documentary called ‘Drawing the Tiger’ about a young girl from rural Nepal who wins a scholarship to study in Kathmandu. If you ever get the chance you really should watch this film; a great portrayal of the beauty and struggle of life in modern day Nepal. At the same time was also a great exhibition called ‘Brick by Brick’ around using colour and art to help reconstruct Nepal;

02 brick by brick

#3 I was quite taken by the exhibit entitled the ‘Seismic Squad’ which turned the main post-earthquake actors into action figures, including ‘The Volunteer’; “The new hero in the block. The volunteer has the ability to clone and has super speed. With a bag full of tricks, the volunteer is the inventory of the Seismic Squad.”;

03 seismic squad 4

#4 November 25th saw the first day of an international 16 daylong event aimed at promoting the elimination of violence against women. In Chautara for the opening event I joined the Government Women & Children’s Office team, as well as partners working in the area of preventing gender based violence after the earthquake, on a rally along the main street of Chautara;

04 rally

#5 The rally culminated in speeches from local leaders and the head of police as well as a very dramatic and incredibly effective series of street theatre performances. Actors, a mix of adults and children, professional and amateur, depicted various stories and scenarios from everyday life in Nepal which can increase the disempowerment of women and exacerbate violence against women. The crowds were absolutely engrossed and several women were moved to tears I suppose as situations were portrayed which they could relate to all too well;

05 street theatre

#6 Further street theatre events for the campaign took place at the annual Gaurati Mandir Mela (or festival). In normal years I’m informed that up to 100,000 people a day for five days (mostly from within Sindhupalchok either currently or formerly) travel to a small temple up in the neighbouring VDC from Chautara to offer worship to ensure health and prosperity in the coming year. Given the ongoing fuel crisis and the lack of local accommodation as a result of the earthquake, I do not know what this year’s attendance level was officially. But when I went up to view the street theatre and check out the festival the crowds were pretty convincing. A chariot was also moved around the town during two days so that yet people could worship (& small boys could have something new to climb on). Stalls selling tasty local oranges and other local produce lined the approach. Great to see people celebrating traditional customs especially aided by the local police having supported rebuilding this important temple after it was damaged in the earthquake;

07 mela

#7 Otherwise work continues and with meetings, meetings, meetings. Here; sitting in on the National level Humanitarian Country Team review, helping initiate a Livelihoods Working Group for the district and last but not least supporting a district level introductory meeting with a wide range of Government and agency staff and on our new coordination secretariat;

06 meetings

#8 Last but not least, as ever, the scenery and sunsets continue to lift my spirits on pretty much a daily basis;

08 sunset

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