A Glimpse At Post-Earthquake Challenges

One of the regions in Nepal hardest hit by the earthquake. Winter has arrived and a unique group faces uncertainty.  Story from The Telegraph

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Posted in Earthquake Aftermath, Nepal Earthquake, Perseverance, Volunteering in Nepal, Volunteering with VIN | Leave a comment

Using The Gap Year

Good article on student, Kristian Gaylord using “down” time to get involved at great heights both literally and figuratively. You can do the same through FVIN

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Kokua Nepal Day

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Kokua—the Hawaiian word for “cooperation.” It’s a fitting description for a day dedicated to supporting earthquake relief in Nepal. The stories and images coming from our partners in Nepal show local youth joining together and organizing clean-up crews, food distribution, and the building of temporary shelters.

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A 10 hour bus ride from Kathmandu then a 2 hour hike will take you to the village of Ambote, Nuwakot. Away from any main roads, Ambote received no assistance from the government or NGOs after the earthquake. And Ambote was hit hard. Most of the homes collapsed or became unlivable, the rice mill was destroyed, and there were no medical supplies. Through social networking, those with friends and family in Ambote were able to coordinate with individuals in Hawai’i, New York, London and Kathmandu to arrange for supplies AND a medical team to reach to Ambote. All of this was done without government aid and without the structural support of professional aid agencies. It was ordinary people who cared. It was Kokua.

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The Society of Nepalese in Hawai’i (SNEHA), with about 150 members, has already raised over $60,000 for relief! Nepal will need much much more than this to rebuild, however. Estimates put the total cost of rebuilding at $5 billion.

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FVIN is honored to be one of the beneficiaries of tonight’s Kokua Nepal benefit concert in Honolulu. Over 50 local artists will be performing in support of Nepal. Tickets can be purchased at www.kokuanepal.org. It will be live streamed on Olelo Community Media.

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Can’t make it to the concert? You can still help by donating to FVIN at www.friendsofvin.org, or the concert’s other beneficiary Himalyan Children’s Charity www.hccnepal.org

Watch a video message from our friends at VIN:

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Alexis Baghdadi, Winner of FVIN’s “Professional Volunteer Travel Award!”

FVIN Pro Volunteer Award Recipient

FVIN Pro Volunteer Award Recipient, Alexis Baghdadi

Volunteers Initiative Nepal (VIN) has a great need for professional volunteers to spend extended time giving service to their organization in country.  In an effort to help them find the best professional volunteer for their needs at the moment, Friends of Volunteers Intiative Nepal (FVIN) ran a $3,000 travel award contest at the end of 2014.

Alexis Baghdadi, a skilled writer/editor from Beirut, Lebanon was the recipient of the recent “Professional Volunteer Award” sponsored by FVIN. Alexis will travel to Nepal in 2015 to help our partner VIN publish a book commemorating 10 years of its Volunteer Program.

The Award will support Alexis during his 5-month stay with a family in Kathmandu. While there, he will help compile research-based articles, success stories and testimonials from community stakeholders and volunteers to tell VIN’s story. The book will document VIN’s trials, successes and challenges.

Alexis is a passionate and versatile writer whose experience extends from corporate clients to academic institutions and cultural NGOs. His background covers almost all communication media, with a marked preference for storytelling in print publications and e-books. He is also highly socially motivated and was a founding member of a pioneer organization championing sustainable development in Lebanon: SOILS Permaculture Association Lebanon.

Alexis has agreed to blog about his experiences while volunteering with VIN here – stay tuned!

Posted in Project Update, Volunteering with VIN, Voluntourism, Welcome to FVIN's Blog | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Chaupadi- Dealing with difficult cultural differences

For a travel-lover, living in the midst of another culture is exciting and intriguing.  It can also be downright awkward and call into question one’s own value system.  One of the things I struggled with during my stay in Nepal was the practice of chaupadi.

I noticed it first when instead of coming into the parents’ bedroom to watch TV after dinner, my host sister sat just outside the room on the concrete floor of the hallway.  She was also given her own cup at dinner instead of using the shared water pitcher, and took her dishes into the bathroom instead of the kitchen to wash them.  I learned that this was because she was on her period, and had to take measures to ensure she didn’t contaminate the other people in the house.

Chaupadi is a social tradition in which menstruating women and girls are considered impure and are restricted from normal family life.  It was outlawed in 2005, but is still widely practiced with varying degrees of stringency.  My host family practiced a more liberal form of chaupadi.  In its most extreme form, women may not enter their family homes and must sleep in sheds without mattresses or warm blankets.  They are forbidden from touching men, consuming dairy products or meat, and cannot go to work or school.  Many women have died from exposure or snake bites, and been victims of sexual assault during their temporary exile.

I felt very conflicted when I learned my host family practiced chaupadi.  I was there as a women’s empowerment volunteer, and the family I was staying with stigmatized women simply for having a working reproductive system.  I’m not sure what I would have done if my host family required me to practice chaupadi as well.  Thankfully, they never asked me about my menstrual cycle.  As guests in foreign countries, we sometimes walk a fine line between respecting an unfamiliar culture and acting in accordance with our own values.

I believe in speaking out against the oppression and stigmatization of women—but positive, sustainable change must come from within a community, not from an outsider.  That is one of the reasons I am so enthusiastic about the 17 girls FVIN’s donors are supporting through educational sponsorships.  When girls are educated, they have more knowledge of their rights, increased confidence and freedom to make decisions regarding their own lives and the lives of their children.  The best thing we can do for women and girls is to help them achieve the freedom to make their own decisions regarding their lives, whether that means practicing chaupadi or not.

Posted in Combatting Injustice, Educating Women, Nepal Facts, Voluntourism, Women & Girls In Nepal | Leave a comment

191 Families get Access to Safe Water in Baglung

Baglung District, 170 miles (275 km) west of Kathmandu, recently received new resources for clean water. The project was made possible by local Arnakot Deurali Drinking Water and Sanitation Project (ADDWSP) with financial assistance from Unica Foundation of the Netherlands.

Friends of Volunteers Initiative Nepal is also focused on these solutions.

Contact us for more information.

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Workforce of Men‚ Women Same but Wages Different

There are improvements occurring but pay disparity still exists.

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Help the improvement continue. Work with Volunteers Initiative Nepal.

Posted in Combatting Injustice, Educating Women, Volunteering with VIN, Voluntourism | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment