With much excitement Nepalese students of the Youth Experience Exchange Program again gathered to meet at ECCA on 6th of April, 2016. This time the meeting was short but fun. The students received personal letters from students of exchange schools in Finland. In response, they shared similar and contradictory issues about Nepal, its culture, tradition and environment. The letters written by Finnish students themselves brought much excitement among Nepalese students. Continue reading
“This was my second stay in Nepal and the fact that I also had the same jacket everyday probably had people noticing me but never mind!
My first stay in Nepal was during my holidays few years back. Trekking in Langtang Valley, yaks and camping were a treat for me. This time even if I didn’t get any chance to see white mountains during the two months that I spent here in ECCA(Environmental Camps for Conservation Awareness), I had the occasion to meet wonderful people and had a very interesting job. It was a great pleasure to work with each of you and the food was thousand times better than in Langtang! . Plus I also had a chance to explore the culture especially of Kathmandu valley which is so different from ours. It would be fair to say that no moment could be better than people of different places following different traditions being enveloped by common interest and respect.
I had a very good time here. Thank you to everyone and I hope I could help somehow!”
The earthquake in April left a deep rooted terror in the Nepalese minds. In the days that followed the earthquake, the fear was palpable. But amidst the fear and destruction, Ashok Maharjan, a student from Zing Secondary School, Khokana, Lalitpur rose to take action. Witnessing his community crumbling down and having to live out in the open with no shelter was a stark contrast to his normal life. For a Grade 10 student, the reality of being helpless weighed down his mind more than the terror.
The earthquake stripped the community of its basic essentials like water and electricity. At that time, people had no choice but to drink water directly from the source. This posed a serious health risk and increased the chances of an epidemic.
Keeping the threat of an epidemic in mind, Ashok bravely decided to use the skills he learned in his school’s Nature Club and produced Chlorine Solution, WATASOL, despite the ceaseless aftershocks and his family’s worry. As the Nature Club’s President, he called his friends Dipesh Dongol and Sajjan Maharjan and together with the WATA device, set out to find a place with electricity. The locals donated the salt needed for production of WATASOL. After half an hour of wandering, he reached Bhaisepati, the neighboring town where there was electricity and started producing WATASOL.
“Electricity and transportation was the biggest hurdle”, Ashok states. “The people were very supportive and were ready to help us. As part of our Nature Club activities, we had begun to produce WATASOL and distribute it in our community even before the earthquake. As a result, the locals were familiar with WATASOL and accepted it without complains or suspicion.”
He continues to guide and advise other students in his school as well as those who live in the vicinity.
Ashok Maharjan is a prime example of a motivated youth who leads his peers. ECCA is proud to be able to support Ashok in his efforts and hopes to empower and motivate others youths as well.
“April 25, 2015, I can’t define this day. A day my country was hit by a massive earthquake. Many people lost their homes, their lives, the country was ruined and I was shattered. Yes, I lost my world, I lost my parents”, said Thakur Prasad Dhakal in a very low pitch.
Life is not going to be the same for Mr. Dhakal, a school teacher in Saraswati H.S.S, Ramche-06. When a 7.8 magnitude earthquake stroke, Dhakal rushed to his home from Barabise bazzar to find his 8-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter with their mom. Thankfully, they were safe. Then he searched for his mother who was hit by the rubble on her way to home. With the help of neighbors and friends, he managed to recover her. It was a relief for him to see that she had only a minor injury on her leg. But this relief was only for short until she asked for water and passed away by drinking it. Only moments later, his phone rang and he received the message of the death of his father.
No life in immortal and no one can skip it, but grieving your parents in middle age is far more devastating than the quake. Immediately after the loss of your parents, no matter how grown up, matured and wise you are, you will always feel alone. Now, every evening he walks to his demolished shelter to shed tears over his loss. After all, it’s a human’s heart that is wounded and a son’s life left desolate.
“Sindhupalchok is the place where you can find lots of children hat have lost their parents and seen many dead people. That is why I am here, in this teacher’s training on Education in Emergency. Through this training, I wish I could bring back my students’ smile. I can bring some hope in people like me”, said Mr. Dhakal. Every morning when I wake up, I look around and “I wish it was only a Nightmare”, he adds.
This story was collected by Sadiksha Chaudary, ECCA-Volunteer, during the teacher’s training on Education in Emergency in Sindhupalchowk in August 2015.
27th July 2015, was a clear and sunny day when our team left ECCA-office for an approx two-hours-ride to a small village located in Chaughare VDC, Lalitpur. In the fond of our car, there were Solar Lighting Systems to be distributed to EQ affected families in need. Additionally, we carried various piles of note books for the students in severely damaged school in the same area. I feel it was a short trip, but the activities with a long-term impact.
Some families were already waiting for us when we arrive at the partly destroyed school yard (Shree Gyanodaya Lower Secondary School, Chaughare) to distribute the Solar Lighting System. The system distributed consisted of 2 bright bulbs along with the mobile charging facility and radio inbuild in the system. This reliable and environmentally friendly source of electricity for their homes. will keep the family members safe during the dark hours of night time and support the family members connected with communications and information.
As we had limited system to support the community members, Mr. Tej Lama (Chairman of School Management Committee) supported us through identifying the highly needy family members in the community. Families with old aged members, disabled members, nursing mothers, and school going children were highly prioritized in the distribution.
Amongst them, there’s a 99-year-old lady with her great-granddaughter. She still remembers her earthquake experience of 1933 and shared about her experience during that time. The great-granddaughter also shares her joy with other children and gathers together with her friends who all love dancing.
In the scenery of the partly destroyed school yard, the Solar systems stand like a symbol of hope and shows that earthquake recovery and ecology can go together hand in hand. And apart from providing electricity for the basic needs of families, there will be still enough solar power for playing music – so the girls can go on dancing!
Angel C. – Sr. Program Officer, ECCA
Nina N. – ASA Volunteer, Germany
ECCA, as a youth based professional volunteer organization is open to all the youths. It provides a platform for them to get themselves learn and involved in various types of programs and projects related with conservation, education and community development projects. Hence, lots of youths gets an opportunity to learn and engage themselves in different programs and development projects being implemented in rural communities of Nepal.
In order to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of their involvement, ECCA evaluates the extent of involvement of all counselors and honors top 9 counselors and A Counselor Of The Year, every year during the celebration of ECCA Day. The movie presents ECCA’s Counselor of the Year from 1995 to 2015.
Please click the link for the video if this video is not embedded in this article.
The following are the list of ECCA’s Counselor of the year since 1995.
1995 – Mr. Biswa Bajracharya
1996 – Ms. Renu Lama
1997 – Mr. Saroj Aryal
1998 – Mr. Yogendra Chitrakar
1999 – Mr. Bijaya Man Shakya
2000 – Mr. Bishnu Gopal Dangol
2001 – Ms. Amala Tuladhar
2002 – Mr. Sidhi B. Bajracharya
2003 – Mr. Ram B.S. Maharjan
2004 – Mr. Angel Chitrakar
2005 – Ms. Deepti Khakurel
2006 – Mr. Sambhu Maharjan
2007 – Mr. Rajiv Ranjit
2008 – Mr. Santosh Maharjan
2009 – Mr. Anal Dhungana
2010 – Ms. Elina Nakarmi
2011 – Mr. Bipin Shrestha & Mr. Rabindra Khatri
2012 – Ms. Pooja Maharjan
2013 – Mr Devi Prashad Ojha
2014 – Ms. Juneli Dangol
2015 – Mr. Ashish Karna
Congratulation to Mr. Ashish Karna for succeeding to receive the Award and Title of Counselor of the Year 2015.
Glimpses of 28th ECCA Day Celebration could be viewed through this link.
“Namaste miss. Namaste sir. Welcome to our school.” When there are blissful tiny voices greeting you along with their tiny hands heavy with garlands that clearly define affection, plus those warm smiles loaded with innocence, you’re bound to forget all your fatigue and consider yourself blessed to be among those people with big hearts. Likewise, the moment we got an affectionate welcome at Kalidevi Lower secondary School of Mirge, Dolakha on June we felt that the challenges we faced on our way, which included of a massive rainfall plus a life-threatening landslide were all worth it.
But the next moment when we let our eyes wander, we saw true horrors of earthquake. The earthquake had left them nothing but a tiny building. All other school infrastructures were in rubbles. Although some temporary structures had been set up for running the classes, most of the students had no materials for study. Many students had their uniform and books buried during the earthquake. Desks and benches were made locally yet they were still not enough for students. We further discovered that the health status of all the children was in a risky situation. All the students and even teachers used tap water from the toilet directly for drinking. Moreover, the nature club of the school was already functionless long ago so there was no chlorine production and no use of chlorine as well. Hence, our foremost objective lied in reactivating the nature club and making all students informative regarding sanitation and healthy habits besides making efforts to take them out of the earthquake trauma.
We thus started our sessions as scheduled, with numerous games and activities. The children were surprisingly shy and there were few who volunteered for anything we asked. As we started our drawing and coloring sessions in pre-primary classrooms, they were happy beyond anything. Even the teachers told us that they themselves rarely taught children that way. On the other hand, older students seemed fascinated by things that could be learned through art and games.
On our second morning, we witnessed yet another suffering of the school. Previous night’s rainfall had pooled the school ground and half of the temporary classrooms were flooded with water. Students were busy ploughing around the ground for a water outlet and we got worried about our sessions. Despite everything, we were determined to place the students at ease and try sharing our earthquake experiences together so that they could free themselves from the subconscious trauma.
“During the earthquake of April 25, 2015 I was in maize field working with my mom. When the quake hit us, my mom started screaming and all houses around us started collapsing. That night all of us villagers slept in the maize field of our neighbors and ate whatever we had. Our home got destroyed and we’re now living in temporary shelter. I don’t think it’s ever going to be same again…” As Pabitra spoke these words, the whole class was silent. One by one, every student began to speak up and involuntarily there established a bond among us that reminded us of our common misery and then the strength that we could find among ourselves to overcome it.
On our third and last day, we reformed a nature club in the school. After teaching and demonstrating them things about WATASOL, its method of production and usage, they grew confident about producing and distributing it in the village for safe drinking water.
Meanwhile students from lower section enjoyed learning proper hand washing techniques and other creative activities.
On the second half of the day, the school held a short farewell programme during which we distributed copies and other stationery materials to the students and eventually handed over whiteboards, markers, game materials and a first-aid kit to the school. An exhibition was held at the same time which exhibited our students’ works. Parents observed and thanked us for helping their children. And when the teachers enthusiastically said that they were motivated by our work, we couldn’t help smiling. We were humbled moreby warm farewell given by the children. The moment was indeed very overwhelming because when those blissful tiny voices bade us farewell along with their tiny hands and hugs that clearly defined affection,we forgot the world for a moment and considered ourselves blessed to be among all those people with big hearts.
Thank you ECCA!
[The experiences are based on a week long Life Skill Camp mission held at Kali Devi Lower Secondary School, Paile Mirge, Dolkha by Environmental Camps for Conservation Awareness from June 23 to June 25, 2015]
by – Upama Tamla