Nepal, December 23, 2013

Greetings from namche bazaar at the foot of the everest region. i completed my work in khotang and wanted to provide an update on the past few weeks.

i arrived to lamidada by plane uneventfully, and reached our projects in the villages of sungdel, rakha,and dipsung over the next several days. i am pleased to report that d2n is thriving!

our current phase of the rakha/sungdel toilet project is going well, and should be completed by the end of march. we currently have a proposal for the next phase of this project, which will entail completing toilets for all homes and schools in the village of rakha. this phase should take us through the next year, and at that time, rakha vdc will be declared "open defecation free", just as we accomplished in the village of dipsung (thanks to f-cubed foundation, diana/ben/paul finkel). i have been informed by the cps ngo (our village ngo managing this project) that dzi foundation will complete the toilet project in the village of sungdel.

i couldn't help but notice that many of the completed toilets didn't look like they were being used yet. when i asked about this, i was informed that it would have been bad luck if they used them before i came by for the "opening". when i asked one family if they were happy with their toilet, the mom responded it would have been nice if the roof was painted a color instead of the bare aluminum. something to keep in mind for the next phase...

the foundation of the dipsung sub-health post has begun. The locals have cut much of the wood from the forest, bought and transported much of the remote supplies. this project should run through the year, with a pause during monsoon season. it is very exciting to see this off the ground! our hired engineer raj kumar will be inspecting this project 3 times during the construction to ensure things are done as planned.

i met with our 6 current scholarship students in dipsung. they are all well, attending school regularly, and progressing satisfactorily. i also met with our new 25 scholarship students. at my request, they are representative of the most disadvantaged students in the area, and all women. they were part of a group of students previously supported by a 3-year world education fund grant which is done. we will have the nava jyoti ngo in dipsung run our scholarship students just like any of our other projects, keeping control of the funds and dispersing them as needed to each individual student (school uniform, adequate clothing for winter, books, pens, supplies, etc...). each child will have a separate ledger, and we will have the scholarship program audited by an accountant at year’s end (both our village ngo's are registered with the government of nepal, and are required to get an audit and submit to the government annually for all projects- a good way to ensure accountability of our funds). the cps ngo in rakha will be finding a similar 25 students in rakha village for us to meet next trip in april and if approved , d2n will also support these scholarships. realizing lower castes and women have been traditionally discriminated against i have again requested to support the most 25 disadvantaged female students.

nava jyoti ngo will also be providing us with a proposal for review to upgrade the renuka school. it currently accomodates grades 1-8. the proposal is to upgrade for grades 9 and 10. currently to attend grades 9 and 10 is about a two hour walk each way! nava jyoti will also be submitting a proposal for a school library (currently non-existent), and a pilot stove project.

as mentioned above, cps will be giving me a proposal for the new 25 scholarship students in rakha when i meet with them next visit. they already have submitted the proposal for the rakha sub-health post construction, which we approved pending the successful completion of the dipsung (dindu) sub-health post. when we are getting closer to breaking ground, we discussed having our contracted engineer raj kumar review the architectural plans and budget prior to initiating the project. cps will also be sending us a proposal to upgrade the current building the rakha mothers' group is using. the mother's group collects a small fee monthly from the village households, and utilizes this money for micro-loans and other activities that support the community.

within the next 24 months all three of our current villages (vdc's/village development comitees) will be "open defecation free" with a toilet for all homes and schools, and all three villages will have a new sub-health post to deliver medical care! this has been with the help of our mentor foundation the "dzi foundation", who will complete the toilets in sungdel, and who built a sub-health post in sungdel last year. with this in mind, i have requested that both the nava jyoti and cps ngo's at the village level start exploring other surrounding villages where d2n will start expanding their focus. nava jyoti is already exploring student scholarships and a toilet project in the village of baksila.

last winter, i expressed my dismay at the lack of control of garbage in our three villages. for example, we camped at the school yard in sungdel which was full of trash, and behind the school was a garbage dump. in response to my concern, namgyal sent a team of two individuals back to khotang to discuss this problem. the response was for each tole ("neighborhood") in all 3 villages (there are greater that 10 toles in each village) to form a garbage management commitee. educational material was distributed, and a contest was initiated to see which tole could become most "beautified". i am ecstatic to report that i saw a multitude of bamboo wastebaskets throughout the villages (which were being actively used, and they periodically burn the collected garbage), the villages were much more trash-free, the sungdel schoolyard was much cleaner, and the garbage dump behind the school was gone!

despite the incredible amount of work lewis clayman put into obtaining an international rotary grant, the kathmandu rotary club unfortunately turned down the grant. whether or not this project can be resurrected with a different kathmandu rotary partner is unknown at this time.

i am pleased to say our good news is in abundance. d2n is strong, and we will take our setbacks in stride. such is life working in a developing country. we have a lot to be excited about!

happy holidays to all. thank you for all of you support...