The real start of our second week! Since we used the first week to get some more grassroots level insights from the field, we are now trying to gather information from a top down level: NGOs and different other associations.
Monday morning starts with a rather informal meeting in a coffee place: Dori Nguyen is an expert in socio cultural ecology and urban planning. In her work with different NGOs and international development, she tries to always be as human centred as possible while keeping a multidisciplinary holistic approach. Being in Nepal for a bit more than 2 years, she works with UN Habitat and the WASH program, mainly in the area of monitoring.
Even though I personally did not attend the meeting due to some administrative work and processing of interviews from Dhungentar, the happy and exhausted faces of the other team members show precisely that the meeting was nice and informative. Wonderful, even more meeting notes to process and analyse – but I won’t complain since this is ultimately why we are here. And we are more than thankful for all the opportunities to meet exciting people in the upcoming week. For Wednesday, we managed to schedule a half-day trip to a Newari community in the suburbs of Kathmandu through a friend of Dori.
In the afternoon, we gathered in Patan for a meeting with Vikas Sharma from Plan International. Our first “big” NGO! The building is located in a slightly calmer area of the city close to a range of embassies, NGOs and bigger associations such as the UN. We pass the guard at the entrance and get equipped with our visitor identification cards. Luckily the meeting itself is then rather convenient and less formal than it seemed in the beginning. Vikas and one of his colleagues explained us in detail the work of Plan in the different areas of Nepal and how they involve different communication strategies to transport their information to their beneficiaries. While we heard a lot of similarities to our experience in Dhungentar, there is also as much new and exciting approaches to learn about. As Plan is a quite huge organization, they incorporate a selection of regionally local NGOs to act as their “executive organ” since Plan itself acts more like a consultancy.
Straight from the office, half the team heads to a nearby coffee place where we await our next interviewees sipping tea in the garden. Bidur Regmi and one of his colleague from the American Red Cross took the afternoon to discuss with us. Before they arrive, we see the breaking news of an airplane crash on KAT airport, only 5km away from us. A small Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 from US-Bangla Biman caught fire after deviating from the runway during its landing manoeuvre. According to a later police statement, 49 people got killed during the crash. Hearing about this tragic accident while being Helsinki would be already casting down, but it is even more touching being so close to the scene. Everyone in the café gathers around the TV and tries to reach someone who might know someone that could be affected by the tragedy on his phone.
The meeting itself afterwards is luckily uplifting and really nice. Both ARC representatives are open and talkative in giving us the opportunity to learn more about their approaches and respective communicative strategies. It is amazing to see how cooperative and interested everyone is in our project and we gathered pages and pages of information while making two new friends for the future!
Exhausting – that is what this first day was. But also inspiring and enriching, so again no complaints! The rest of the day is a small team meeting on our rooftop terrace to recap everything we experienced and a late dinner before everyone falls into their beds.