by Nabin Pokhrel, Durga Bhandari, Manon Michelle Monhemius
Trustbuilding starts with personal change, making it an important ingredient for the Trustbuilding Program. Participants of the trustbuilding projects go through journeys of personal transformation, as do the project team members. In Nepal, the team went on an outreach tour through the country, visiting (potential) partners and working with youth groups. It was a transformational journey for many of the Pahadi team members, as some of them had never experienced the Madhesi culture before. Two of the team members, Nabin and Durga, shared their experiences with us.
Communications Assistant, Trustbuilding Program team - Nepal
The journey has been full of surprises and unique experiences. Before leaving Kathmandu, I had named this journey a 'Journey for change', and I am glad that it has been so indeed. I was very curious and excited to find out how the outreach would be. I feel lucky to have attended the wedding ceremony of Puja Sha, where I got a chance to experience a culture that was new to me, as well as to examine my flexibility outside of my comfort zone. Like, sharing a single bed with five people, having non-stop loud music around for 24 hours a day, eating very spicy food, and so on. I also got an opportunity to interact with local people, to capture them in photographs, listen to their stories, and have tea together in a small tea shop.
Staying at Bardibas was in contrast with what I had experienced in the remote village Chaulikha. In Bardibas I got the chance to meet many young people from a social studies college and youth groups, with whom I got a chance to share my change stories. This was the time when I discovered my strength of sharing and connecting. Living in the moment of sharing with people and meanwhile capturing them on camera felt like meditation to me.
Some of my best memories come from the challenging moments that we have shared with the team; like how we struggled to attend meetings without proper internet connection, waking up at six in the morning and having to rush for a meeting, or skipping lunch for a program. I was out on this journey to discover the life of Madhesh, and in that process, I also discovered more of myself and gained a deeper connection with my inner self.
The main challenge during this trip was to stay calm and healthy in all situations and give my hundred percent. It was very inspiring to see how friends around the country were ready to commit to joining the local outreach team. It is difficult to express in words all that I have experienced and learned in one month on the road. My major takeaway from this journey is that every new experience comes with new learnings which helps us grow. Every ordinary person can do extraordinary things with huge impact when he/she starts with inner change.
Volunteer, IofC Nepal
While visiting the plains of Eastern Nepal, with its holy river Sapta Koshi, I was awed by the open mindedness and friendliness of the plain’s people. I discovered that they are very hard-working people, always ready to help others in need. It was my first visit to Eastern Nepal and also my first outreach experience with IofC Nepal. In the course of our one-month journey I had the privilege to meet students, teachers, youth leaders, activists, government officials and politicians.
Nepal is a diverse country with different communities having different ways of living. Coming from the Pahadi region this was my first time experiencing a Madhesi wedding and their hospitality. Early marriage, dowry and illiteracy are prevalent in the Madhesi community, which often, especially for girls, denies privileges. It is very hard for village women to do work outside of their home, as in Nepal women are expected to look after the household chores. Our friend Pooja, whose wedding we attended, is fortunate to have a supportive parent who knows the importance of education. Staying at a Madhesi home has broken a barrier and my perception of how I looked at the Madhesi people. I felt the warmth and care, realizing that, though we come from different regions, we are all Nepalese, and each individual is important for building a just and caring society.
During this trip, I realized the importance of youth development and capacity building. Through the sharing of ideas and experiences by the people I have met, I have become inspired to give more to our society. During one of my reflections during quiet time, I discovered that I needed to let go my anger and blaming of others. There are laws in Nepal, but they are often not followed by the citizens. I was one of them. From now on I have decided to follow the rules. Also, I often procrastinate. This journey has made me realize that in order to achieve my goals, I need to be more proactive. To have more patience with myself and to think before I speak.
I am very grateful for the rich encounters that I was able to experience during this journey and the lessons it has taught me.
The Trustbuilding Program is aimed at addressing divisive issues at the international and national levels, on the premise that only those who have undergone the internal process of becoming trustworthy themselves can close gaps across the globe. The Program was launched by Initiatives of Change International in 2019 with projects in Kenya, Canada and France, and in 2021 Australia, Indonesia, Nepal and South Africa have joined as well.