End of July saw a massive flood – around 30 km towards Baglung from Pokhara due to heavy rain. More than 20 houses swept away and 30 people are left dead. Around 19 dead bodies are evacuated.
A team from PCC/ACN of 11 this at 7:30 immediately we heard that on the news left Pokhara and headed off to the landslide area as fast as possible overcoming many hurdles due to landslides on the rood. We were able to help security force and local people to evacuate dead bodies.
Asal Chhimekee Nepal (an endeavor of Pokhara Christian Community) has been working for the relief and rehabilitation of the people hit by earthquake on April, 2015. We have made a video about the relief and rehabilitation that we have decided to embark upon for a longer period of time.
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Asal Chhimekee Nepal, PCC, has taken the responsibility of rebuilding and rehabilitating Shrinathkot VDC, an affected village in the district of Gorkha. Collaborating with government agencies, ACN distributed 360 bundles of CGI sheets and rupees 38,25,000 cash (for the people who did not want the CGI sheets). The day was not a typical day in Gorkha.
Bags of cash and a temporary warehouse for CGI sheets were casually guarded by the police, who were familiar to the villagers. The government officials were present among the villagers and all seemed to be united for a purpose, to get the things distributed.
People were waiting outside in a line, to have their turns in signing the papers and getting their share. But still something did not make much sense. When bags of cash were brought into a village so devastated, and necessary supplies were being brought in, why were people in not any hurry? Why wasn’t anybody complaining about the management, or the long wait or even the inadequacy of the supplies? There was a story deeper than what one could see witnessing the very day.
ACN had taken a step forward in helping the Shrinathkot VDC, as per the agreement with the government. And as per, it was now going to distribute the supplies. It could have done it by itself, just by notifying the agencies, but decided, it would collaborate with the government in the whole rebuilding process. It was a not a usual thing. In the light of irregularities of the governmental agencies who were also being targeted by the media, these agencies have not been trusted by many national and international organizations. Most simply overstep their authority and carry out the relief themselves. These agencies which have tremendous pressure and lack of resources are left watching. People do not simply trust them in handing over the resources. Especially with bigger funds and projects. When ACN decided to hand over the check of NRs. 38,000 and the CGI sheets, the District Disaster Response Committee were amazed and encouraged by their trust in the Government.
They were grateful and thanked ACN and PCC for the resources and significant amount of trust. The Chief District Officer said, “This is a very great day for me. This is the first time that such a big fund has been handed to the Disaster Response Committee. This is going to be an example for all the organizations who have not trusted the government and carried out on their own but also an encouragement to the government agencies who have lost hope. We have finally got the chance and will show everybody how much can be achieved by working together with the government. We will keep the copy of the check in such a place where everybody coming to this office can clearly see. We have always been transparent and have kept the records down to a single plastic cup that we purchased, we will do even better and will let everybody know.”
He further thanked ACN and told that he was very impressed from the transparency and zeal of the whole fund collection. He thought that an organization like this would never fail.
Everybody there knows that the resources were from Christian people from Pokhara and other Christians from all over the world. Christian organizations have themselves been victims of shallow and superficial observations before. The government and locals have also been suspicious about the funds and interests of Christian missions. This had become a chance for ACN to show its transparency to the government bodies and the local people. Also a moment where ACN did not decide to overstep the authority and worked with a collaborative approach with the government. Now, within a few weeks, the perspective of viewing Christian missions by the government in Gorkha has certainly changed. They are more eager to collaborate. And in future, if ACN were to need any assistance by the government, there will be no lack of trust and support.
Further, the minds of the locals have been changed. We have to understand that this is a very remote village and accepting the presence of Christianity is a very big thing for them. After PCC and ACN did such a remarkable job, they have opened their doors to Christians. If anybody went to the village telling he/ she is a Christian, they will be welcoming with open hearts. The church in the village which was not very acceptable before, has now become very respectable in the eyes of the people.
And the relation between the Christian locals and other locals is not the only relation that has been restored. After this transparent and energetic project, locals have become very appreciative of the government agencies. ACN will be there only for a certain period of time but the government (which has been able to gain confidence from the community) will be there with them forever.
So, at this point, it is very fair to say that because of the joint endeavor of Christians from Pokhara and outside Nepal, and the collaborative approach of the government and ACN, people are inspired and excited about the future. ACN has a long term commitment with the community and itself is inspired to do more work, building an organic relation. The future of the VDC seems very bright.
Nepal, has been known to the World as the land of mighty Himalayas. But we know that has not been the topic about Nepal from the 25th of April, this year.
Till now, the death toll has been reported at more than 8,710 and rising as we discover new bodies. 19 districts of Nepal have been affected where 14 are assumed to be affected severely.
The communities and amounts of their support for Nepal are stories on their own. Emergency supports have been given by many from foreign agencies to Nepali individuals. ACN is not an exception in its attempt to try and rebuild what has been destroyed, in a spectrum from physical to psychological damage.
As many of us may already know, ACN, integrated with the Pokhara Christian Community has launched a full- phase relief and rehabilitation attempt. PCC/ACN: has been focusing on the Shrinathkot in building rapport with the communities there and helping government where possible. Last weeks were focused basically on exploring more about the VDC. Food supply continues if there is any desperate needs know to us. The update data of the distribution of the relief supplies has reached 8895+ households (approx. 38385 populations) and the coverage is as below:
We have compiled a short video to help understand what the situation is like …
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Pokhara: 79 households were chosen for the second distribution in Pokhara. These households were mostly those who have relatives from Gorkha and Dhading staying with them.
Thumi village, Gorkha: Thumi is approximately 200 km from Gorkha and due to the rain was very difficult to reach. We had been told that it would not be possible to take food to this area directly, but we were very keen to do so. It took our team 6 days to get there. The trucks got stuck; the road was blocked by trees, mud and landslides. The team faced lots of challenges; they didn’t have enough food with them and found it hard to find places to stay. It was also difficult to find trucks and tractors to move the goods. However finally they did it and 1230 households in Thumi received a food package each. The packages included 30 kgs rice, 2 kgs lentil, 1 ltr oil, 1 kg salt- enough food for the village for a month. The villagers really appreciated the effort our team made to bring food to them and thanked them for the good quality and the quantity. This brings our total food distribution in phase one to 9500 households (45,000 people).
Feedback meeting in Shreenathkot, Gorkha:
The villagers told us that they were happy with the quality of the food we had supplied, the materials, the training, and the work with the children. They were also pleased with the way that ACN/PCC had managed to deliver services directly to the target communities. One leader asked whether we were there to convert them to our faith. We used that question as an opportunity to explain why we as Christians, were involved with the disaster relief and to explain about the collaboration of people around the globe who truly love them and have given generously.
Children’s health camp – Shreenathkot, Gorkha:
A children’s health camp was held for a week at Simle in Shreenathkot. Each day more than 100 children attended the camp. The team carried out various hygiene activities such as shaving their hair, bathing them and teaching them how to use toothpaste. They dressed their wounds and treating diseases such as scabies. They also ran fun activities for the children and taught them about nutrition. The team consisted of health workers and volunteers with special gifts working with children. Brother Altamir and Sister Ana came from Brazil to help with health activities and were extremely helpful in this camp.
Water filter distribution:
A 2 nd lot of water filters (from Water With Blessings) were distributed. The filters were given only to those who were willing to share with at least two families. Most people receiving filters were lower cast people who are most at risk from contaminated water.
Satoshi and Youki returned home to Japan. Altamir and Ana also returned to Malaysia – but we hope, they will come back to help when health post work starts. Brother Greg and Anthony with their wives from World Concern have arrived. They are helping us with project design and with setting up systems for future work. Tim, Sonia and Hannah who helped us especially on the Dhawa and Thumi trip also have left. We appreciate their support.
The next stage
Seed Distribution: 800 packs of composite vegetable seeds packs purchase have been ordered. People in the villages are currently engaged in planting rice and millet. When they have finished this, the seeds will be distributed.
Toilet construction: Janajagriti and Arkul primary schools have requested help to construct toilets. We plan to do this in the next few weeks.
Building approval for the health post and the Village Development Committee (VDC) office: The local community have raised money to buy land for a new VDC office and they have cleared the site using a bulldozer. Approval for this building is needed from the District Development Committee (DDC). We are now asking them about this. Unfortunately we still have not got permission from the DDC to rebuild the health post. We may have to bypass them and go straight to the Ministry of Health to gain approval and get the guidelines for how it should be built.
School construction work: This is a massive project as 10 schools need to be constructed. Consultations with the local community and the relevant government section will begin when we know what funding is available for this task.
Children’s health camp in September: Based on the need seen in the community and those expressed by the people, there will be another health camp in September. This camp will focus on treatment of disease, hygiene awareness for mothers, nutrition and psychological support and will be supported by Dr. Arian Gurung a podiatrist.
Of the NPR 50 million (USD 500,000) that has been raised so far approximately 50% has been spent. Thank you for your generous gifts and your trust in us. We stepped out in faith with only NPR 500,000 (USD 5000) and we are so thankful to God for His faithfulness and blessings to us.
A new fiscal started in Nepal on the 17th of July. We have therefore closed our accounts for last year and started afresh with the remaining funds.
Cost for future work:
The preliminary plan shows NPR 115 million (USD 1.15 million) will be required for the health post, schools, VDC Office reconstruction, community radio installation and livelihood support work in 2-3 years of time. A concept note on this is available on request.
AN URGENT NEED
Our future support in Shreenathkot relies heavily on our presence there. We have to make frequent journeys to the area which is approximately 100 km/5 hours driving from Pokhara and is only accessible via unsurfaced roads. Up until now we have rented a jeep each time we have gone to Shreenathkot or elsewhere, however this is not a long term solution, as renting a jeep costs NPR 20,000 (USD 200) per day. As we are now committed to working in the area for at least the next two years, we feel it will be more cost effective to buy a 4 wheeler jeep to support our on-going work in this region. This will be a big initial outlay (an Indian make costs approximately NPR 3,500,000) but it has become a necessity.
Special prayer requests for
Wisdom in formulating project proposals.
Funding assurance for the future work.
Approval from the Government for the construction projects.
The regular work of ACN which needs to be picked up and resumed.
Monday, 15 December,
Bhedifarm Self- Help Group, associated with ACN, starts its Christmas celebration with an exemplary service to the community. This time, its time for some cleaning in the community.
The self-help group did a full-phase cleaning campaign in its community, raising awareness about the need and importance of clean and healthy community. The group invited ACN staff to join hands in its new campaign approaching Christmas. Trash-bins are now placed by the group at regular and fairly close distances to help develop a sustainable cleanliness in the surrounding. The staff of Health and Sanitation Department along with Empowerment Department also participated in the campaign.
The purpose of the campaign has been to raise awareness while spreading the message of Christmas- the celebration of birth of Christ who cleanses hearts.
The message will hopefully create a positive vibe in the community and slowly take them one-step closer towards an empowered and healthy community.
Asal Chhimekee Nepal celebrated its 12th annual general meeting (AGM) on Sunday, 21 September in the presence of Executive Members, Staff,Church Representatives and General Members at Pokhara Baptist Church.
The function was conducted with the Dr. Deependra Kumar Gautam as the Chairperson and Pastor Rambahadur Rokaha as the honorable Chief- Guest. Pastor Rokaha did the inauguration of the 12th year bannner and Mr. Ramprasad Sharma held the responsibility of the host.
The programme had various segments including welcome,worship, sermon, distribution of recovery certificate and shawls to successful Nawajeewan clients, financial reports and annual reports. The programme also decided selecting Mr. Devraj Paudel as the auditor for year 2070/ 71 B.S.
The function was successful in arising the sentiments of the members as primary responsibility-holders. Everybody, in the end, was glad that ACN had successfully completed its another year of service and was looking forward to an even brighter future in its serving and empowering poor and marginalised communities. “12 years of service”, wrote the banner that was neatly designed and stood at the center of the stage. A crowd of enthusiastic and excited members from many different churches in Pokhara Valley had gathered where the function seemed not only about a formal meeting for an obligatory annual function but about a platform where the the past years could be remembered with all its challenges and the excitement as well as a glance at the even brighter future to encourage a combined approach towards community service with the hands of the gospel. Sharing pictures and memories of some encouraging achievements and challenges was a common occurence.
It can be concluded that the programme served not only as a formal meeting of all the members and staff but was also successful in refreshing the hearts and spirit of gospel that all present.
Executive Members and Staff of ACN
Dhanamaya Gurung and Prakash Pariyar at Prayer
Mr. Prakash Pariyar, Dr. Julie Lincoln and Mrs. Milan Pahari (Members of the Health and Health Awareness Programme)
Dr. Deependra Kumar Gautam, Chairperson – Asal Chhimekee Nepal
Dr. Dipendra Kumar Gautam as the Chair-Person of the function
Participants of the AGM
Presentation of ACN annual reports by Executive Director: Mr. Rajjendra Adhikari
Annual Financial Report by Treasurer Muktinath Dhakal
Table of the Chief guest decorated with flowers
Chief Guest Pastor Rambahadur Rokaha preaches from the Bible
A participant on the meeting looks through the booklet of ACN’s Annual Reports
Battimaya is of old age and lives in a small mud house with her son, his wife and their children in remote village of Nawalparasi . Just like most of the villages in Nepal, Nawalparasi houses many families that are struggling to join their hands and mouth. Battimaya Sunar was one of many such women.
She says that she was not only worried that she was unable to generate any income for her family, but also because she was idle most of the days.
But with the help of Asal Chhimekee Nepal, a group named “Pragati” was formed in her village where the group was encouraged to start a saving and credit scheme.
Battimaya being one of the executive members of the group, participated in various events of the group. She also engaged herself in a candle-manufacturing training.
Being an old- aged woman, farming or other activities like tailoring was difficult for her. Making candles, though not easy, was right for Battimaya and selling them would help her make some money for herself. At first, she hesitated to start the business thinking that she was not quite capable but with a lot of encouragement from the group members and ACN staff, she thought of giving it a try. And so, she took help of fund from her Self-Help Group and bought herself a cast for making candles. Things have taken a swift advance since then.
Now, she often takes the opportunity to market and sell her candles to anybody who goes to visit her but also takes her candles to the local shops and sells them.
Nepal has a long sessions of power-cuts, candles are important goods in the villages of Nepal and has a fairly good market.
Battimaya does not sell candles at an industrial scale but she says that the business has been able to embed some new perspectives to her life and she has future plans to grow the business into higher levels one step at a time. She says she is content with taking the decision to start the candle- making business.
Saving and credit groups have become a great boon for the village economy. In Nepal, it has promoted the habit of saving and also has encouraged people to try out their micro- enterprise of their interest. Apart from this, there are many stories of people who have changed their personalities from shy and house- limited to dynamic and social.
Many stories like Battimaya encourage us and many like us that the changes that are occurring are slow but gradual and with a combined effect of many like us, the transformation of our society is just in the nearest horizon.
Even for many Nepali people who have found themselves living in the small cities of Nepal, villages in Nepal are really different with in comparison of sanitation and economic status. Imagine a traditional Nepali village in the plains where the heat reaches to point where walking without protection seems next to impossible. Midst the illiteracy that prevails in rural Nepal, health and sanitation seems to be a little scarce. Navalparasi is one of such districts. The main inhabitants being the “Tharu”, often thought of as one of the races in Nepal that has been left behind for decades, even in Nepali standards, the villages are poorly constructed mud- houses with almost no toilets. Imagine the health and sanitation in one of such house-hold.
But that is not the house of Hirmati Mahato.
Hirmati has not been this way forever though. Hirmati came to live in the village after she got married to her husband. She was of Indian origin and did not know much of Nepali. She was known in the community as one of the most impolite person. To add to the disliking, she had a massive foot which was so due to Gangrene. She would not even wear slippers. Often she would be biased in the water-fetching taps. They owned a very small piece of land, which could not bear enough to feed them throughout the year and her husband had to go to work in the fields of other people even on Saturdays. This meant that they could not attend the church. She was illiterate and could not even write her own name.
But she joined one of the community self- help groups that was encouraged by Asal Chhimekee Nepal. There, she learnt to read and write from one of the vocational education courses that the group ran. Asal Chhimekke Nepal referred her to Tansen Mission Hospital and with their joint contribution along with her own efforts, her foot as treated. She is now the chairman of her self- help group.
Her field is aided with the wastes from her eco-san toilet and does not use any chemicals in her fields. Tunnels wrapped with plastic sheets can be seen from far away (these tunnels provide green- house for the tomatoes and other vegetables and increase the yielding). She and her husband now farm in their own land that is just beside their house. The most encouraging thing about her is that she is regarded as one of the wisest in the village and many people look up to her at hard times. It is very obvious that her house is cleaner than most, if not all, the houses in her community.
When asked about the feeling about the experience with Asal Chhimekke and the community group, she tends to become emotional and says,” If there was only some, I could list them but I have not experienced a change but a transformation of my entire life…”, and starts telling her story from the beginning.
Hirmati is not an individual who has transformed a her life and lives happily for the time remaining, but one of such who has been transformed and is seeking actively to touch the lives of other people. She is not the one who remains calm after receiving grace but her life and living will surely have a clear and substantial effect upon her community.