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Morning has quickly become my absolute favorite time of day here. I wake up super early sans alarm clock, thanks to the life of the streets – dogs barking, motorbikes and cars honking, people clearing their throats in the loudest way possible, and men singing hindu chants to greet the day. It’s actually pretty entertaining! Since Kath pretty much shuts down after 7:30 pm (unless you’re in the Thamel district, amongst all the tourists), the early rising isn’t hard to deal with. Another reason I’m lovin’ the break of dawn? I’ve started doing yoga again (thanks yogadownload.com!) It’s a perfect way to combat my hard bed and the soft morning sun makes the workout relaxing (in a weird, ‘I’m still sweating’ sort of way).

What else has been keeping me busy? Lots! I had day two of CECI orientation on Tuesday and after spending hours learning about their role in Nepal, I’ve come to the conclusion that international development workers LOVE acronyms, like head-over-heels swoon for them.

Of course, I also learned loads of important information about how local organizations, co-operatives, federations, unions, NGOs, and INGOs work together (or sometimes not) to help this complicated country economically and socially develop in a positive, sustainable way. Presently, CECI is having a tough time continuing their work here since Nepal was removed from CIDA’s list of countries of focus (similar to several African countries). Who are the replacements? Countries – most in Latin America –  that Harper is trying to build new trade agreements with. Shocking huh? Not so much.

I’m not going to bog everyone down with everything we discussed, but I will say that CECI Nepal focuses on three critical development sectors – social, agro-foods, and sustainable forestry. PRERANA fits into the social sector (among many other partnerships). Agro-foods encompasses orgs like dairy co-operatives or small farmers unions that help regulate dairy/produce sales in the country. The forestry sector includes orgs like fecofun, a federation of community forest users. I also learned there is a huge industry for non-timber products here in Nepal. If you use Aveda products, you’re contributing to the sustainable forest management practices in this country.

So after that session, we wrapped up with a briefing on the security, history, and socio-political situation of Nepal. Again, so as not to weigh you down with stuff you’ll likely forget in 10 minutes, here are my top 5 facts:

  •  There are 103 different ethnic groups, 5 caste divisions (this includes the Newars who technically have their own caste system within a system), and over 92  different languages (OMG!)
  • Population below poverty is 31%. This number has actually decreased over the past 5 years due to remittance (labourers finding work outside of the country and sending cash home). There are a ton of Western Unions all over and now it makes sense.
  • The current government is made up of 25 parties. Equation for political unrest? I think so.
  • Until May 2008, Nepal was a constitutional monarchy. It is now a republic and the king lives amongst the people of Kathmandu – his palace (where his brother and nearly the entire Royal family was massacred in 2001) is now a museum.
  • They are due for another massive earthquake in the next 10-20 years, according to the history books. Maybe all the flower pots teetering on rooftops isn’t such a great idea? Just a thought.
  • I’m going to wrap this up on a sad note. Looks like I’m moving tomorrow and I won’t have much internet access. I’m really enjoying this whole blog thing and hope to keep it up, but it could prove difficult without wireless at home. We’ll have to see. Next post will be light – sightseeing pics and stories!

    Namaste.

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