May 30, 2005 – Happy Memorial Day I have arrived. While landing in Kathmandu you notice the plane comes in at a steeper angel than at most airports. Of course we cannot start to descend too far until we have cleared the hills that surround the valley. Nepal is humid and hot, all of the country looks forward to the rainy season.
My first two days were about getting adjusted to the time zone. Nepal is 9 hours and 45 minutes ahead of American EST. I found myself up from 12 midnight till 6am without a problem and would take a nap in the afternoon. Last night was the first night I slept the whole night. Having spent my first day at COCAP, meeting staff and volunteers, I was able to stay up during the day and sleep at night.
COCAP is located in Anamnagar. It is near other human rights organizations and NGOs. The staff and volunteers are extremely welcoming and helpful. I was icked up by Siyaramdai and taken by motorcycle to COCAP. I do not ride motorcycles back home, so it was an adventure. It is also a very fast way to get around and by the end of the day I was enjoying the ride! No worries, I had a helmet!
Bijay, the program manager, sat down and went over COCAPs creation, past programs and current work. Very comprehensive! What I had not been aware of is that COCAP’s partner organizations are from all branches of human rights. Through COCAP they have a unified voice for peace, equality and stability. Organizations are able to share knowledge and resources with each other to make their individual programs stronger.
One of COCAP’s most recent program was a human chain created around Ratna Park In Kathmandu. The chain was to bring attention to human rights violations and actions the government should be taking. It was held just before the royal coup of February 1. The event was significant, I think, because it was a positive peaceful protest that did not disrupt the daily activities of the Nepali people. Many Nepali’s are tired of protests, bandhs(strikes), and road blocks that disrupt theri day and make them loose money. COCAP is conscious of their actions. They are able to bring attention to their cause without disrupting peoples lives in the process.
COCAP can also be complemented for its “practice what you preach” approach to their work. They are demanding that everyone have equal rights, equal representation, governemnt transparency and accountablity. COCAP has all of these. There office staff are 2 male and 2 female, that come from the terai and hill regions, and come from different cultural backgrounds. Their volunteers are also a strong mix of men and women, young and old. Both staff and volunteer are given opportunities to help organize and participate in events at different levels.
Their budget is transparent and for all to see, either on their website or at their office.
My responsibilites while working with COCAP will be highly focused on proposal writing and reporting. We will be putting together a plan on assessing what proposal writing skills are needed and what members areas I will visit. I assit in putting together the 6 month report for the donor organization Misereor (which will be my initial task). I will spend time working with Nita, resource center manager, on brainstorming ideas for the resource center, ie, how to organize, expand and maintain (though I beleive she does have this unter control). I will also help edit information to be posted on the website.
Bijay also took me to meet Suvesh Darmal-COCAP general secretary and Jagaran Meadia Center’s (JMC) chairperson. JMC works through different media, radio, TV, newspapers, etc., in order to highlight the rights of the Dalit community; and to highlight when those rights are not being enforced or followed. Dalits are part of the untouchable caste. Though the caste system has been illegal in Nepal for some time, many still live by the old practice.
JMC is currently working on a TV series showing a Dalit’s journey from a village in the far west to Kathmandu. Far west is known for being more conservative in their social norms. I will also being working with JMC, but we are not exactly sure what my work will be just yet.
This was my first day! I took in a lot of names, faces and information. Hopefully I will keep in straight!
Posted By Anne Finnan (Nepal)
Posted May 31st, 2005