A week to remember ...
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Only one week that we’ve been in Nepal but it seems like we’ve been here for a month! I think we never thought that we could do so much in just a few days. Indeed, we’ve already met so many people, been to so many places here in Kathmandu and collected more data than expected in just a week! For this first week in Kathmandu, we would like to thank all these amazing people who welcomed us and accepted to share with us their knowledge, ideas, insights and inspiration:
1. Last Sunday, after only one day in Kathmandu our amazing Couchsurfing host Roman directed us to The Himalayan Secondary School who welcomed us and accepted to receive us in their school to launch our project Children for Change! After that, we just received a call from Radha we had emailed a few days back. Where are you now? Euh…New Road! Can you come over? Sure! We had the pleasure to spend more than an hour, a captivating hour, with her. After a personal tragedy, Radha Pautel, who felt compelled to act for the most disadvantaged in her community started the Miteri Recycle Center. It is a social business which collects used clothes from Kathmandu to be recycled and sold locally in Karnali by women’s groups at a low cost price to the poorest consumers.
2. On Monday, we visited another school, Namuna School! The staff was really welcoming and the children were really amazing! We were really happy that they so promptly accepted to work with us! Next step, run to Patan Square! In this crowded, warm, and cozy tavern-type small restaurant, we met Sarbagya who introduced us to the venture he works for; specialized in providing clean energy to rural parts in Nepal.
3. Tuesday was also really enriching! We had the opportunity to learn so much about Nepal while visiting the NBI (National Business Initiative) offices and we left with a pile of booklets and leaflets… many reading hours in perspective! After that, we ran to the other side of the town and ended up in a really nice café where we met Jo (after a few minutes amazed by the music, festivities and costumes of a harvest festival, the first ever we saw in Nepal). Jo has been working, amongst other things with Change Fusion Nepal, an organization providing support to social entrepreneurs in Nepal. She was really helpful in helping us understand the social entrepreneurship ecosystem!
4. Wednesday, 9 am, we have to run to meet Simone Galimberti, an Italian who settled down in Nepal a few years back. As Simone profoundly believes in the power of volunteerism and service as an alternative from traditional development work he started Engage CORP, an NGO dedicated to develop volunteering and volunteer inspired society! Our meeting with Simone is now over as he has another one just after but he invites us to stay since he thinks that we would like to meet her! And he was wrong, actually we loved meeting her! Who said that you can only see with your eyes? Her name is Shristi, she is a dancer and her story is that of an amazing and powerful woman; a woman who lost sight at 16 but who never gave up on her wish. Shristi is being recognized as a person, a woman, a dancer and not described as blind; just a person who can make her own choices! That’s why she decided to start her own organization Blind Rocks….and teach other blind people how to dance! Next step: go the Babermahal Revisited to meet her! She is the one who we've been hearing about so much. Everyone kept on saying: you need to meet Luna, she knows everything about social entrepreneurship! Finally, we got the opportunity to meet her! After having a hard time finding the café, we showed up (10 minutes late) and met Luna Shrestha Thakur who runs an organization called Change Fusion Nepal which provides support to social entrepreneurs and Ram who runs the Youth Action Fund! They shared so much with us about social entrepreneurship and even asked us to work on some projects with them!! Amazing, we cannot even believe it!!! After that we took a taxi to attend an event on education organized by the Udhyami Impact Fund….over a fire burn we talked to many people who shared one common passion: improving the Nepalese education system as children are tomorrow’s changemakers!
5. Thursday, 2 pm: first session of our project Children for Change! It was the first time that we’re implementing it, and I mean for real with real children, after the theory let’s switch to the practice! A bit of apprehension…but we’re thinking “it’s gonna be okay! And it was! Children were amazing and really responsive, aware of the issues surrounding them and willing to solve them! They showed how aware they are about issues surrounding them and decided to pick up the garbage issue to work on it and come up with solutions…to be continued! After that, we visited Edulift Academy’s premises; an afterschool supplemental educational program and attended a presentation by a British journalist from the Guardian who introduced the children to his new movie about Nepalese leaving the country in quest for a better life in the Middle East!
6. After piloting our project Children for Change with the first school, we felt more confident about going to Namuna School and working with children a bit older. And actually, we were quite right! It went really smoothly! Children came up with at least ten issues that bothered them in their everyday life and that they would like to solve! Looking forward to the next session to see what solutions they will came up with! Friday was also THE day! We were about to organize our first event in partnership with MakeSense! We had already launched the event on Facebook, many people said they would come (even some not even in Nepal!), but would they? Actually, the SenseDrink was really successful! Many people interested in and curious about social entrepreneurship came and joined us for the SenseDrink! We had a nice time with them and left with the feeling that we can actually start a vibrant community of SenseMakers in Kathmandu to help solve the challenges of social entrepreneurs.
It’s quite impressive to see how people are really responsive! I mean now that we’re actually here, we’re quite confident that with the help of all these amazing people who are committed in their work, we’ll manage to give social entrepreneurship the exposure it deserves and do something that might actually help or at least inspire others! Quite a full and intense week! No time to get bored! We would like to thank everyone mentioned before for the help, answers, advice they provided us with! You really managed to make us forget about the cold weather (at least for a while) and to remind us that many successful social entrepreneurs are around and that their stories should be shared!