Katie Baczewski

Katie Baczewski (Care Women Nepal): Originally from the Seattle area, Katie earned a BA from Scripps College in Claremont, California. Prior to her fellowship she worked in the Dominican Republic and South Africa and served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Burkina Faso, where she developed a deep interest in family planning and maternal health. Katie was studying for an MA in law and development at the Fletcher School, Tufts University, when she was deployed to Nepal. After her fellowship she wrote: “.I got to be at the ministry of health, talk to the Prime Minister, speak with UNFPA, leading gynecologists, watch the surgeries take place, tour the hospital, talk to journalists in Dhankuta, attend the health camp, and speak to rural women in their home villages. This really gave me a complete picture. This fellowship (also) built on some of the skills that I had already built during Peace Corps - flexibility, adaptability, and learning how to change directions. I also gained some valuable practice writing grant proposals and developing program outlines.” kbaczewsiki@advocacynet.org



A day in the life of a Peace Fellow

08 Aug

Every fellowship varies, but let me say this about mine: there is no such thing as an ordinary day. To begin with, I don’t always even know where I’m going to wake up. My time has been divided as follows:

5 days: Kathmandu

2 days: Biratnagar

3 days: a hotel in Dhankuta

1 week: a house in Dhankuta

2 day: back to Biratnagar

1 week: back to the house in Dhankuta

1 week: a house in Sindhuwa

2 days: a hotel in Hile

1 day: back to the house in Sindhuwa

1 week: back to the house in Dhankuta

3 days: Biratnagar

10 days: Kathmandu

1 week: Vacation! – Chitwan, Pokhara, and the Annapurna Circuit

2 days: Kathmandu

2 days: Biratnagar

1 week: Kathmandu

Keep in mind that a few nights have disappeared in there because they were spent on overnight buses in transit between Biratnagar and Kathmandu (which is a 15 hour bus ride). There have been times when I have longed to just unpack and stay in one place, but it’s also been exciting and varied. I’m getting to see a lot of different sides of this work – in Kathmandu I’ve sat in on meetings with the Minister of Health and UNFPA. In Biratnagar I’ve sat in on hysterectomies in the hospital and talked to the leading gynecologist. In Dhankuta I’ve talked to district leaders, graphic designers, and journalists. In Sindhuwa I’ve talked to volunteers who are going door-to-door to advertise Care Women Nepal’s activities and to the women themselves who are suffering from third degree uterine prolapse.

As I’ve discussed, prolapse is a particularly complicated issue, and I don’t think it’s possible to fully grasp the many layers of complexity without seeing the various levels at which it plays out. If you stay in the villages you can’t understand the greater policy environment. If you stick to the capital, you can’t understand the real life repercussions of those policies. You can’t talk to the doctors enacting (or failing to enact) your policies and you can’t meet the women whose lives are being affected.

As for the more banal details… I drink a lot of tea. Like 3 cups a day (and that’s if we don’t visit anyone, where cups of tea are compulsory). I eat a lot of daal bhat. Daal bhat is cooked rice with lentil stew and some variety of sides. I eat it for lunch and dinner every day (except for when I occasionally treat myself to an ex-pat meal in the touristy neighborhood of Thamel in Kathmandu). I live with Indira and Yunesh, so we spend a lot of time together. Sometimes our work consists of meetings, sometimes we sit on my floor hashing out a program plan or a budget. Since we don’t exactly have an official office, or office hours, sometimes our work happens at 7am, sometimes at 8pm. When not in Kathmandu I’m pretty dependent on them, as there aren’t so many people who speak English in Dhankuta or the rural areas. During our weeks in Dhankuta we would go for 5am walks and Yunesh and I would debrief the World Cup games.

The nature of the work changes, too. Sometimes it’s about networking – sitting in meetings while connections are made. Sometimes, like today, I settle into a coffee shop (I highly recommend the Himalaya Java chain which is around Kathmandu), order myself a chocolate muffin and some black coffee, and work on grant proposals. Sometimes Yunesh or Indira helps me take interviews with the beneficiaries of their program, trying to understand the effects that uterine prolapse has had on their lives. Sometimes the three of us sit down and go over a budget, or website edits, line by line.

Moral of the story? The typical day in the life of a Peace Fellow is not typical at all.

Posted By Katie Baczewski

Posted Aug 8th, 2014