Hi! This week has been fantastic, I had some really interesting experiences seeing what technology within education can do for inclusive education, had a great interview with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, and I went to the Swayambhunath Stupa (Monkey Temple).
Below you see some photos from the Monkey Temple I went there together with Hanna, she is an MFS student from Stockholm University doing her research on water resources in Kathmandu Valley. The Monkey Temple provides a panoramic view of the city and valley, it is an UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the holiest Buddhist sites in Kathmandu.
I had the opportunity to meet with Mr Narad Dhamala from the Inclusive Education Section (Center for Education and Human Resource Development) and Ms Sarala Poudel previously Curriculum Development Centre, both working for the Nepal Ministry of Education, Science & Technology. It was a very interesting meeting about how the Government of Nepal work with inclusive education, challenges and future plans. Also, Ms Rajuna Singh, an Australia Awards alumni was my translator for the interview, so helpful and important work! The Ministry is responsible for all overall development of education in Nepal, formulating educational policies and plans and managing and implementing them across the country through the institutions under it. www.moe.gov.np
Rajuna Singh used to work as a teacher within computer education, teaching at a special school in Kathmandu. Through Rajuna I got in contact with two of her former students, Umesh and Darshan, both youth with severe intellectual disability. Of various reasons, none of them have been able to go to school in the last two years. For Umesh it is that he is now too big and his mother can no longer carry him up two sets of stairs (they live on basement level) and to the bus stop. Instead, after training with Rajuna and through donors in Europe, both Umesh and Darshan have received computers adjusted to their needs. Umesh controls his computer through a joystick control by his foot. He has learned how to type using his feet and can now communicate without problems online, he even has his own YouTube Channel called Umesh TECH – check it out as it is fantastic!
Darshan can not talk verbally, however through technology he can now communicate through his computer. He has learned how to write with his nose, he wrote really quick and it was easy conversation for me to speak and he to type back. He is a great writer, now he has written over 150 poems – all in English! Now Umesh and Darshan both study English from home, one of the best things is that they are still connected online and through Facebook keep in touch with each other. They are two fantastic people and I feel priviliged I got to meet them both.
Namaste, It is my second to last week in Nepal and I am trying to squeeze in as much as possible before heading back home. In my last blog post I forgot to mention that I attended the ANZAC Day memorial service organised by the Australian Ambassador at his residency @ the Australian Embassy on April 25. Anzac Day is a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand that broadly commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders “who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations” and “the contribution and suffering of all those who have served”. It was an interesting event to take part of in Nepal.
This week I have done some interviews as well as been touristing around a bit. On Saturday I attended the Le Sherpa farmers market which is where a lot of the expats go every Saturday morning. It is a nice place to grab a coffee and sit down on the lawn and chat to people. On Sunday I attended the Yellow House farmers market in Patan which was also really good. I ended up buying two shirts that are designed and made in Nepal.
I got to meet the next batch of Australia Awards Nepal Short Course on Inclusive Education in Practice Awardees heading off to Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane. It was lovely to meet the scholars at their Pre-Departure Briefing held in Kathmandu just two days before they were off to Australia. My project in Nepal is in interviewing alumni from this course (2016 and 2018 participants), hence very interesting to attend this event and learn more about the scholars selected for 2019.
I had an interview with Australia Awards Nepal alumni Mr Ganesh Kc and Ms Jamuna Subedi from Independent Living Centre for Persons with Disabilities, Kathmandu (CIL-Kathmandu). It was such an inspiring meeting! CIL-Kathmandu promote and protect the rights of people with disabilities through advocacy, peer support, and awareness raising of the concept of ‘Independent Living’ in Nepal. www.cil.org.np
“The right to participate in every aspect of life” “The only special need that I have is to be loved and accepted just the way I am”
I also had a great meeting with Mr Lakpa Sherpa, Principal at the Laboratory School (Lab School), and how he works with advocating for inclusive education. The Lab school is the first public boarding school in Nepal (established 1956) and is a successful integrated school where visually impaired and sighted students share the same classroom. www.laboratoryschoolnepal.com
And I also had an interview with Mr KP Adhikari and team at the National Federation of the Deaf Nepal (NDFN). I learned so much about inclusive education and the development and challenges within deaf education. NDFN is the national umbrella organisation of the deaf community in Nepal working for policy intervention on such as deaf rights, sign language, telecommunication facilities, awareness raising and training. www.deafnepal.org.np “I can talk with my hands. Can you?”
Hi! This week has been busy with several interviews and catching up with Nepali friends in Kathmandu. I had an interview with Mr Raju Basnet and Mr Ramesh Pokharel, two Australia Awards short course in inclusive education alumni from the National Federation of the Disabled Nepal (NFDN). NFDN is an umbrella body of persons with disabilities and represents more than 300 member organizations in Nepal. They do an amazing job working with advocacy, awareness raising, and capacity building within inclusive education. www.nfdn.org.np
This week I also got to learn how to make Nepali momo’s (like dumplings), my favorite food in Nepal :). It was my friend Rajana that invited me home for lunch and together with her mother and sister we made soo many momos. I ate way too many momo’s but they are so yummy! I have known Rajuna since 2017 so it has been great to be able to see her now while I am in Nepal.
I also had the opportunity to meet with NB Limbu, Director and founder of the Nepal Association of the Blind (NAB). NAB is a national umbrella organization of the blind with over 3000 members across the country. They work to raise awareness and advocacy around inclusive education through providing i.e. computer training, digital accessible information system, and capacity building training. www.napnepal.org
I was invited for a lovely Easter BBQ Nepali style which was great. We all had to wear topi (the hat on our heads) and ate lots of yummy food and drank Namaste Nepali beer. Really nice evening.
Hi all! This last week has gone so quick! Last weekend I had to do some online work for my work back home, hence I booked a nice hotel (Hotel Radisson Kathmandu) to make sure I had internet and electricity for the full two days. It was so nice to stay in a nice hotel, however I spent in one night the same as I usually spend in one week. BUT I got to enjoy a hot shower!
I had a lovely night together with my colleagues at Australia Awards as well as staff from the Australian Embassy. Sunita, my contact person in Nepal works at the Australian Embassy (in red in below photo) and she has been amazing. Any question – she will always have an answer, she invites me to events, and she helps me to get in contact with people I want to interview. Could not have asked for a better contact in the field.
Last Sunday night my husband Andrew arrived from Sweden! He only had one week in Nepal but it was great to show him around and for him to meet my friends and colleagues. We spent 4 nights at a holiday destination called Pokhara, such a nice place. You can either go by bus approx. 7-12h or fly 25min to get there… In Pokhara we did a fantastic 3h trek to Sarangkot view point where we had a beautiful view of the city as well as the Himalayas mountain range.
I went to a really interesting presentation by Maggie Doyne, an American philanthropist who has built a children’s home, women’s center and school in Surkhet, Nepal. She won the CNN Hero of the Year Award in November 2015. An inspiration!
Namaste (hello in Nepali)! This week being back in Kathmandu has been very busy. I have had a couple of interviews as well as attended several events organised by the Australian Embassy in Nepal (my host organisation). It was also the Nepali new year. According to the national Nepalese calendar Bikram Sambat it is now 2076.
Each year the Australia Awards Nepal program organise a return home and reintegration workshop for all the alumni that have recently returned from their studies in Australia. I got to meet Rajuna, which I helped to mobilise to Australia 3 years ago when I worked in Adelaide, Australia on the AA program. So good to see her again!
I got invited to attend the Australia Awards Nepal inspirational talk program with famous Dr Sanduk Ruit. Dr Ruit is an Australia Global Alumni and today an eminent eye-surgeon and restored the sight of more than 120,000 people across Nepal and beyond. He work to help the poorest of the poor. He has received several international Awards and it was an honor to be there and listen to him.
Then I also completed two interviews this week. The first one with the AutismCare Nepal Society and I got to interview two alumni, Sijan and Dr Sunita that both have attended the short course in inclusive education. I got to see their school, a school for children with autism that at this stage are unable to go to a mainstream school.
My second interview was with Sagar, he worked for the National Federation of Disabled, Nepal (NFDN) for many years before he earlier this year resigned to work with his project Sangai Hami (Together We) – People with and without disabilities together! Sagar is a great inspiration!
Hi! I have just done the most amazing thing!! I completed an 8 days trek to Mardi Himal in the Annapourna region in western Nepal. OMG! After two weeks in Kathmandu I needed a break from the busy city life and to get away from the bad air (Kathmandu has the worst air in the world). Another MFS student (from Stockholm University) and myself booked a tour to trek Mardi Himal for about a week and it was only one other Swedish tourist on the tour which was nice. The trekking company is called Beyond Borders Ethical Adventures and owned by a couple, the wife is Swedish and husband is Nepali so really the best combination.
The trip started with 7h bustrip from Kathmandu to Pokhara. Then we trekked from Pokhara into the depths of Annapourna region. The landscape was just absolutely amazing! Below you see some of the photos:
We stayed at various tea houses, different place every night. Some had electricity however none had internet – I was out of internet for 7 days (and toiled and warm water for longer)!! I met so many fantastic people along the way and learnt lots about Nepali culture and food (yummy momo’s!)
The trek was very refreshing after having spent a couple of weeks in a busy city like Kathmandu. You could smell the fresh air, get away from being connected, and to learn about the country. I thought this was fantastic and would recommend everyone to do the same.
Now the trek is over and it is time to head back to Kathmandu to continue my interviews. It has been an inspiring trip and it feels like I can do anything after this. I am very appreciative of being here, Nepal is an unbelievable country so much history, stories, people, traditions and customs.
Note: for those who are interested in applying / already received / alumni of the SIDA-funded Minor Field Studies (MFS) scholarship program in Nepal. I have just established a Facebook group MFS Nepal which is a forum meant to help conduct our field studies in Nepal and network with each other to share ideas, recommendations, and support each other. Everyone welcome!
It has been an amazing first week in Kathmandu Nepal! I have already met so many fantastic people and been to many beautiful places. Below I will share some of my memories with you.
The first day I visited The Garden of Dreams, a park very central in Kathmandu away from all the busy traffic. Here I spent a couple of hours reading a book and had a juice at a cute cafe in the garden.
Early on I went to meet with my contacts in Nepal, they work at the Australia Awards Nepal (AAN) Office. The AAN team work with prospective scholarship recipients for Australia (Master level) as well as alumni that returned home from Australia. My project is related to one of their short courses in inclusive education, run both in Nepal and Australia for Government officials as well as NGOs in Nepal. I used to work with AAN scholars when I lived in Australia, my role was to support them through their studies far away from home. It was a great job! It was lovely to see my ex colleagues again!
We started out with lunch and then I came along to one of their information sessions for students interested in the scholarship, there I got to present about my experiences from living in Australia for 8 years.
The Australia Awards Nepal team took me out on a day trip to another town called Bhaktapur. We had their famous King Curd, a sweet yoghurt which was yummy. It is a very old town and much was ruined in the 2015 earthquake, now lot of construction is happening here. Bhaktapur Durbar Square is on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
In the afternoon we went to Boudha stupa (temple) for a look around as well as sat down at a rooftop for lunch and a sangria. Another colleague working at the Australian Embassy joined us for lunch. The Bouda stupa is one of the Hindus most holiest temples. It was stunning! And the mountains in the background. Could not have asked for better company or a better place for pizza and sangria!
Me and my colleague (holding his daughter) and his brother having a selfie in front of Boudha stupa
Thats alll the updates for now, will write more soon. Now it is time for me to check out of my current hotel (Hotel Friends Home) and go to one a bit closer to the office called Cusina Mithu Chha. See you soon! Regards, Maddie
Mycket har hänt sen sist! Till att börja med så kan vi meddela att alla intervjuer är gjorda. Detta har varit en givande, stark och många gånger gripande erfarenhet. Det har varit en ära att få möta alla dessa starka människor som vågar dela med sig och det har varit så viktigt för oss att höra deras berättelser. Trots liv i uppförsbacke (både bildligt och språkligt) så är det få som klagar. De lägger istället sin energi på att saker och ting ska bli bättre. DETTA ger oss perspektiv.
Innan analysfasen av arbetet drog igång så tog vi ett par dagars ledigt och stack norrut – mot Himalaya. Från staden Pokhara så gav vi oss ut på en 3-dagars vandring med toppen av Poon Hill som mål. Det känns löjligt och lönlöst att försöka sig på en beskrivning av naturen. Vi var helt enkelt mållösa. Och andfådda!!
I grillande sol, regn och under kolsvart natt så vandrade vi ca 5-6 timmar om dagen. Det var en av de tuffaste fysiska ansträngningarna vi vart med om men samtidigt en av de finaste upplevelserna då vi är naturens nr 1 fanboys. På dag 3 nådde vi toppen på 3210 meter!!!
PS. Kan ju informera om att det är 1104 meter högre än Sveriges högsta berg… Så slipper ni UNDRA! Kebnekaise – more like Kebne-not-abig-deal-kaise! Bam!
Bilder kommer när vi sitter under ett mer stabilt Wifi-parasoll…
Då vi väntar på att våra sista intervjuer ska bli av så har vi åkt på lite utflykter!
Vi tog oss därför till Patan som ligger i södra delen av Katmandudalen. Det här är en stad som genom året växt ihop med Kathmandu. Men även för det otränade ögat så märktes det viss skillnad. Kulturarvet inom konst och hantverk syntes överallt! I vart och varannat hus vi passerade, satt där en eller flera personer, beklädda i sågspån. Verken dem skapade var för fina för fotografier… (Aka jag glömde fotografera)
Philip tog sig även upp i bergen, nordost om Kathmandu. Efter 2 timmars bilresa nådde jag mitt hotell. Hotel at the End of the Universe. Och det var precis så det kändes. En idyll. Biltutorna och smoggen byttes ut mot fågelsång och friska vindar. Promenader genom barrskogar ledde mig till en 360graders outlook post på 2,200 meters höjd. Otrolig utsikt, men kanske ännu coolare var att behöva tryckutjämna påväg upp?
It feels unbelievable that my field research trip in Nepal has come to end. Many emotions and feelings come up as I say goodbye to the wonderful nation of Nepal, a country that has not only provided me with so much valuable material for my thesis but which has left such a great impression on me as a person. As I take a quick glance through the hard-drive of my computer I wonder how I will even begin the task of synthesizing so many pages of material, interview transcripts, project documents, not to mention my field diary which is full of impressions, perceptions and thoughts on NGO project management and the process of Monitoring & Evaluation which my research has focused on. So as my physical journey in Nepal comes to an end, the journey of thesis writing is beginning. One door closes, another opens. But somehow I think the door to Nepal is one that I will be opening again and again in the future.
The research trip has been a great adventure and I am really grateful to have been able to participate in the MFS program and for the support of SIDA without which this trip really would not have been possible. The organisation that supported me, NEAT, has been a valuable source of information, their contacts putting me into contacts with their contacts and so forth. The kind and humble nature of the Nepali’s I met on this journey have always offered helping hands, and many interviewees wished to become lifelong friends, with offers to return to visit them, stay in their homes and celebrate upcoming festivities together. I’m not sure how that fits with the independent researcher approach but I will have to deal with that in my thesis! Nepal is definitely a country that leaves the visitor with many thoughts and perceptions. The poverty is heart-breaking and NGO project management has a long way to go until it makes foreign aid truly effective, but on the other hand, people seem to be doing their best, although corruption is evident, but many are operating from the heart with little formal education, just trusting their instincts and using a trial and error approach. The landscape is both magnificent and challenging. The high mountain ranges make M&E activities difficult, especially when it can take days of trekking just to make a visit to a project location. But the warm gentle nature of the people leaves an impression on the heart and the mind, with people who have so little always offering so much. I have learnt so much as a person and have a whole new mindset with which I see the world. This is definitely a destination I recommend to others and will be visiting again.
Thanks to MAH and SIDA for all the support and I hope that all other MFS researchers abroad have an equally rewarding adventures on the field!