Posts Tagged ‘CECI’

What a day! I woke up this morning ridiculously early, hoping to finish up my fundraising manual before I actually got to work. Oh the irony huh? It’s just that I was worried I’d need to look something up on the net and be hooped (no internet there) or somehow my battery on my laptop would die and I’d be left scrambling on my last day.

I was dead tired too – went to bed late last night and woke up three or four times to the most ANNOYING sound in the world. No, not the one from Dumb and Dumber…more annoying! Not dogs barking or horns honking…

S q u e e t e r s – buzzing by my ear like the little obnoxious shits they are. Argh. My bites are bright red welts and they are beyond itchy. 

And I don’t understand why they go for your ears in the first place. And it only takes just one to wake you up in a rage!

Anyways, sleep-crisis was diverted. I threw in ear plugs and literally doused my bed and self in deet. Ignore the third arm I may have growing upon my return home…

Back to the morning. After my standard breakfast – boiled egg, fresh cheese croissant, and a piping-hot coffee, I met my usual taxi driver down at the Cholwk (basically an intersection). This guy has been really kind and has offered me great rates quite a few times. I feel terrible that a CECI driver actually came and picked me up from the office (I didn’t know he was coming!) and I suspect the poor man drove all the way out to my work and waited for me…I’m an asshole. I’m sorry nice taxi-man, I had no way of avoiding it. Karma will get me, don’t you worry.

An hour later, I arrived at work. Finishing touches were put on my pieces, documents were explained in detail and handed over to Prerana staff.  I had a final debriefing session with my CECI coordinator and.. my work and self were a hit!


Can’t believe I’m already done my Leave for Change portion of this trip. I’m quite sad about it but at least it ended in a celebration!

The staff pitched in together and bought me a beautiful traditional sari – every single element, down to the earrings, bracelets, and braided-hair thing (um, I lost the Nepali word..again, asshole)! The girls stripped me down and dolled me up.

We were all giggling away as one woman worked on my hair/makeup, another wrapping the dress (which I really tried to memorize, but she’s young and doesn’t wear one daily yet since she isn’t married and kept forgetting how to do it – all the redo’s made it hard to keep track), another finding me bangles down the street.

Oh, the bangles – did you know Nepali women have very flexible knuckle-parts (I have no idea how to explain that part of your hard)? They can twist and turn their already small knuckles to put their teeny-tiny bangles on. I broke three glass bangles before we resorted to soap to get them on. And I’ve always thought I had somewhat small hands!

After 15 minutes behind closed doors, I was ready for my grand entrance.

I really did feel quite beautiful in all that gorgeous fabric. And it was soft and airy to the touch. After everyone clapped and admired, we sat down to tea, cookies, and juice. It was a great way to say goodbye to everyone and now I have my very own sari! I’ll miss them all – just a wonderful group of kind, passionate, and dedicated people.

Lots of pieces to the sari puzzle.

Tomorrow I’m off to Delhi and 40 C heat. Feel free to check my Twitter widget for updates – I’ve heard internet is painfully slow and posting might be a challenge, so I’ve brought my Twitter account back from the dead to keep in touch.

For those of you that don’t know what a widget is, updated tweets (gawd, I still hate that word) will be posted in the right-hand side bar of this blog. 😉



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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!


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    Well, jet lag caught up with me on my first night and I didn’t fall asleep until closer to 4 am. The plus side of that was we had power all night! There are serious problems with electricity in Nepal so everyone in Kathmandu is on a power cut schedule (regulated blackout periods to conserve). We have 8-12 hour blocks during day/night where we have no electricity. Luckily, we do have one floor with back up plugs and lights, but unfortunately for me, that floor doesn’t host my bedroom. Anyways, last night we managed to keep our power, despite the schedule indicating a blackout and that meant  I got to sneak in a few Skype sessions – always nice when you can’t sleep.

    My following morning was a little sleepy, but fuelled by Vietnamese coffee – two program coordinators just returned from a regional meeting in Hanoi and shared their caffeine wealth. We had a tour around the CECI office (everyone seems to still be in Vietnam, so it was pretty quiet), followed by a meeting with my partner organization, PRERANA. Now, it turns out that they are located outside of Kathmandu (but still in the valley) and it took over an hour to get there. So, tomorrow I’ll be touring two apartments in Lalitpur (the location of PRERANA) so I don’t have to take expensive cabs to work everyday. Being able to walk to the org is extremely important since I’m such a short-term volunteer. Kathmandu has political strikes quite often and literally everything in the city shuts down while these carry on. They aren’t violent, but they are disruptive to traffic flows and business – walking allows me to get to work when a strike happens.

    But back to my meeting with my partner org. The team I met was made up of program coordinators for women’s rights, educated board and chair members (and they literally call themselves educated in their titles), a comms/web person, and an accountant. Most of the ’employees’ who I met, have a second job that actually pays the bills since this one is mostly volunteer. They struggle with getting any core funding (consistent funding to pay for overhead costs) – which is why they wanted me to help with fundraising initiatives. These are extremely passionate people who care about helping others and empowering women. I was inspired by their determination the moment I walked into the room.

    After getting settled on the floor, with a hot cup of tea in front of each of us, we got down to business. Oh, and I forgot to mention – the director of the Leave for Change program from Toronto came with me – just to make an already nerve-wracking meeting that much more comfortable!

    Getting to know the PRERANA team.

    Overall it went well. I left the introduction with a list of work expectations and a ton of reading to finish before I officially start on Thursday.  Some of their priorities are extremely important, but simply  not possible for me to finish in the 2.5 weeks I’ll have with the org. For example, number 5 on their list was, “support our processes and document a strategic plan for coming 5 year”. Hah – writing a proper strategic plan should take months! So, we decided they would put in another volunteer request solely for this task, someone who would be a 3-5 month volunteer. The ‘doable’ tasks include preparing a basic draft guideline for fundraising, helping with a draft proposal on women’s rights for global funding, and creating an organizational profile which will outline their programs and expertise.

    Whew. I’m feeling a tad overwhelmed with all the learning I have ahead. But, I do get to play a bit before I jump in headfirst. We have a city tour coming up and we’ve eaten at several appealing restaurants (the fridge doesn’t have back up power, so most meals aren’t at home). 

    I've discovered our rooftop patio is a great place to relax with a book in hand. The view is wonderful.

    And I even ventured for a walk, entirely alone. The traffic still rattles me slightly when I have to cross the road, but I’m getting used to the winding dirt streets and dodging cows – and their shit. Now if only I could navigate properly and not get lost on my way back!

    A suprisingly quiet back alley in Kathmandu.

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    The journey

    Well, I’ll admit it, my travels began with a teary goodbye with both Jare and Stella. I’m a wimp. It’s not exactly my first time being separated from family (and this is a relatively short trip), but it never gets easier to say g’bye to the ones you love. Especially when they already look constantly sad and you can’t explain to them that you will come back…

    So, after some embarrassing emotions at the Kelowna airport, I made my way to Vancouver. The lovely Ms Hannusch graced me with her presence and over wholesome salads and spicy Caesars, we caught up on her wedding plans and my upcoming adventures. Most excellent way to kill three hours!

    After Vancouver, it was onto London. I lucked out and had no one sitting beside me for the 9 hour flight – hallelujah to being able to partially lay down during the red-eye! I had a hefty chunk of time to kill there, so I skipped out of Heathrow to experience London at its finest – pissing rain and sideways wind. Ah, the UK.  

    No really, it was lovely. I took in the Westminster Abbey (which Jare and I somehow missed when we were there before, despite the fact that it’s literally around the corner from the Westminster tube station and tourist central), Trafalgar Square, and Portobello Market. I even snuck in a pint of delicious lager and a sizeable plate of fish n chips, before hopping back onto the pricey Heathrow Express. I must admit, the whole day made me nostalgic for Glasgow times.

    Westminster Abbey on a classic London day.

    Thank goodness I didn’t take out any pounds or I would have left this market with my bag stuffed with goods. They had the most adorable pocket watches!

    Next up, was Doha, Qatar. Apparently, Dubai is facing bankruptcy and Qatar is preparing to take over as the high-end Middle Eastern hotspot. The airport is expanding at rapid rates and I was amazed at how posh everything was. I met an interesting businessman who was making his fortune in dry ice there.
    I would have actually loved to venture out of the airport, but alas, my only glimpse of this intriguing country was from an aisle seat.

    And that brings us to Kathmandu, Nepal! After some serious hype about how insanely confusing the airport is, I was pleasantly surprised to find it really not bad at all. The only downside was waiting 1.5 hours for my late driver and hovering taxi men, persisting that I follow them. The traffic on the other hand – whoa! Let’s just say my mother would not last five minutes in a car here. Ever.

    But, I made it – I’m all settled into my new home for the next three weeks – the CECI passage house. There are two other short-term volunteers here, along with two program directors that are making a quick visit. It’s cozy and spacious and I’m even blessed with a private balcony overlooking the quiet street below.

    My room for the next three weeks. This is the ‘sitting area’.

    Onto orientation tomorrow – namaste.

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