I just got back from 18 days in Nepal and I want to report to you what I saw and what Global Action Coalition is doing there.
The situation in Nepal is at an important junction. A country sandwiched between two major Asian powers India to the south and China to the north.
Nepal, a nation having recently fought a war with the Maoists faction, (now one of three major political parties) is constantly in turmoil with the government faced with many projects and not the means or ability to fix them. The roads in Nepal are badly maintained and the remote villages are often cut off by landslides and life as we know it. Many villages require a strenuous hike crossing many streams with steep climbs and are often inaccessible during the monsoon season. Education, healthcare and sanitary water are issues not effectively addressed in this country and particularly in the remote regions. Most support from the international community goes directly to the government.
I think the most effective way to make a difference is to work directly with the people who are in need. I traveled to a remote village and to other villages to see what the problem were and met with many community leaders. I felt that I had to have no preconcieved ideas and learn from the people on the ground. The one need that they kept stressing was education. In meeting with the UN World Food Bank Director and the Finnish relief officer in Kathmandu I learned that they were focusing on school lunch programs in the west part of the country. They echoed my beliefs that the lunch program is sometimes the only meal these children can count on and it improves attendance and also learning. This is a country with 46% malnutrition for children and so it is an important place to start. Education and food programs are our main directions in helping in Nepal.
We are working in 3 districts Chitwan, Palpa and Gulmi with some very great community leaders. These contacts have come through my connection with Lt. Colonel Bharat Gurung, Major Prem Pun and Lt. Colonel Bineya Rana all from having served at Central Command. Many of you on this advisory board will know one or more of these men. Through them I have found partners in our work Hemu Adhikari, who lives in Tampa and his close friends in Chitwan Province, Father Richard Vas in Palpa and retired Major Hem Pun and his Bharse Village Community Group in Gulmi. This will enable us to work from Tampa and have people I can trust to administer our programs in Nepal. The work has started and we have delivered backpacks, shoes and text books to one village and started lunch programs in two villages in Chitwan with two more about to come on line and a lunch program in Tansen with the good Father Vas, (I kiddingly call him Father Theresa), and in Gulmi we have 4 school lunch programs to begin this year. We also have started a high school in Chandi-Bhanghan village and are planning a computer program for young adults in Bharse Village in order to give these children an opportunity to learn some skills. There are other needs we will address such as helping farmers with their agricultural enterprise in Gulmi and water pump and a sports park in Tansen to name a few. There is no shortage of needs and as we find partners with particular interests we can begin branching out. I hope this gives you a flavor for the mission we are undertaking and why your help is so essential. Rob