Maya Washington (Nepal)

Maya grew up in San Francisco, CA. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science and is currently a graduate student at Brandeis University’s Heller School for Social Policy and Management; pursuing a degree in Coexistence and Conflict with a focus on Humanitarian Aid. Maya is a former Peace Corps Volunteer having served in Kenya under the Ministry of Health as an HIV/AIDS education and prevention volunteer, where she helped provide Traditional Birth Attendants with kits needed to perform safe deliveries and assisted in training those attendants. After being evacuated from Kenya due to political turmoil, Maya served under the Ministry of Health in Lesotho (Southern Africa) as an HIV/AIDS education/prevention and youth development volunteer. While in Peace Corps Lesotho Maya helped HIV positive mothers learn how to better care for themselves and their newborns through nutrition and women’s health education. She helped begin two Libraries within her rural community of Nazareth, Lesotho and ran diversity camps throughout the country. Contact: mwashington@advocacynet.org



How can I help you?

10 Aug

A couple of
questions come to mind before I attempt to help someone. In hindsight most
would assume that these questions were asked and answered several times over
before assistance is rendered. These questions?

1. 
How
can I help you?

2. 
What
do you/your community most need assistance with?

3. 
My
expertise is in ________; would this be beneficial to you/your community?

One of the
most important things I learned as a Peace Corps volunteer is that you can’t go
into a developing country and hand things to people or dictate what their needs
are, at the same time expecting long term sustainability after you/your
organization has left the country. If this is your mindset I am afraid you will
be sorely disappointed.

Unfortunately, Nepal is not an example of the positive Peace Corps-like response to a difficult situation. I’ve spoken to many locals in Nepal from Kathmandu to Dhankuta, Biratnagaar, and so on and I got the same stories. Most of the aid that came into Nepal after the earthquake stayed in the capital. Whether it was money, rice, blankets; for the most part it remained in Kathmandu. It was left to members of the community who have the means to to travel outside the capital to provide assistance to those in the mountains. This is something that my supervisor at Care Women Nepal took it upon herself to do.

With money donated by the Advocacy Project and some money from her own pocket she was able to provide rice, blankets and tarps to several communities throughout the Dhankuta District and I had the pleasure of going out with her and her team while she delivered the much needed items to some very grateful individuals. 

http://www.advocacynet.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/IMG_0368-300×225.jpg, http://www.advocacynet.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/IMG_0370-300×225.jpg, http://www.advocacynet.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/IMG_0967-300×200.jpg

So one might ask themselves why this is the case? So many thoughts come to mind, the main one being that that most organizations take on too much too fast because they are desperate to help in anyway that they can as quickly as they can.

In order to assist in an effective manner there are several points that people need to take into consideration and some of those would include the following:

1. Do they need my/our help? Now, this might seem like a silly question; especially in thinking about the recent earthquakes in Nepal. But you have to understand that almost immediately after the earthquakes hit, organizations were on the ground in Nepal attempting to provide assistance and aid. From helping with rescue attempts, to removing the ruble from downed homes to providing food and shelter. In some cases more help would have been more of a hindrance than anything else.

2. If they need my help; these are the things I can provide…. Will these things be of assistance? Again, you might think these are silly questions but they aren’t. One story I was told while in Nepal, was about an organization that provided clothing to a village outside of Kathamandu. They mostly provided jeans , shorts and t-shirts. The women of the community did not want any of the clothing provided, which of course offended the organizations members. Had the people of this organization taken the time to do a bit of background research on Nepal and its cultures they would have been aware of the fact that few people in the rural parts of the country wear westernized clothing. Hindsight. Always 20/20.

3. What resources does this community already have at its disposal? There are always assumptions made about developing countries and the resources they possess and oftentimes instead of capitalizing on the naturally occurring resources in a country; aid workers bring in their own resources. In many cases this can cripple the economy within a community. Organization that give food aid are often guilty of this. They provide certain foods to communities that would otherwise be sold by the farmers of that community. That farmer’s crops go unsold or sold at a lower than anticipated rate, the farmer’s family can’t survive and so on and so on.

The point of this blog is really just to make the point that people who head aid organization should really think before they act. There are far more things at stake when taking on an act of lending a helping a hand.

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A couple of\nquestions come to mind before I attempt to help someone. In hindsight most\nwould assume that these questions were asked and answered several times over\nbefore assistance is rendered. These questions?<\/p>

1. \nHow\ncan I help you?<\/p>

2. \nWhat\ndo you\/your community most need assistance with?<\/p>

3. \nMy\nexpertise is in ________; would this be beneficial to you\/your community?<\/p>

\n\n\n\n\n\n\n<\/p>

One of the\nmost important things I learned as a Peace Corps volunteer is that you can\u2019t go\ninto a developing country and hand things to people or dictate what their needs\nare, at the same time expecting long term sustainability after you\/your\norganization has left the country. If this is your mindset I am afraid you will\nbe sorely disappointed.<\/p>

Unfortunately, Nepal is not an example of the positive Peace Corps-like response to a difficult situation. I’ve spoken to many locals in Nepal from Kathmandu to Dhankuta, Biratnagaar, and so on and I got the same stories. Most of the aid that came into Nepal after the earthquake stayed in the capital. Whether it was money, rice, blankets; for the most part it remained in Kathmandu. It was left to members of the community who have the means to to travel outside the capital to provide assistance to those in the mountains. This is something that my supervisor at Care Women Nepal took it upon herself to do.<\/p>

With money donated by the Advocacy Project and some money from her own pocket she was able to provide rice, blankets and tarps to several communities throughout the Dhankuta District and I had the pleasure of going out with her and her team while she delivered the much needed items to some very grateful individuals. <\/span><\/p>\n”,”class”:””},{“id”:”4″,”block”:”gallery”,”itemWidth”:211,”itemHeight”:159,”items”:[{“source”:”~wp-uploads\/2015\/08\/IMG_0368-300×225.jpg”,”store”:{“source”:”~upload\/4-thumb-a8de80e298660f0bbdf33045c9b940f9.jpg”,”width”:211,”height”:159,”mime”:”image\/jpeg”,”size”:29053},”large”:{“source”:”~upload\/4-large-a8de80e298660f0bbdf33045c9b940f9.jpg”,”width”:300,”height”:225,”mime”:”image\/jpeg”,”size”:44930}},{“source”:”~wp-uploads\/2015\/08\/IMG_0370-300×225.jpg”,”store”:{“source”:”~upload\/4-thumb-61be42ca0fc1dcc64310558df1c21c33.jpg”,”width”:211,”height”:159,”mime”:”image\/jpeg”,”size”:30187},”large”:{“source”:”~upload\/4-large-61be42ca0fc1dcc64310558df1c21c33.jpg”,”width”:300,”height”:225,”mime”:”image\/jpeg”,”size”:49314}},{“source”:”~wp-uploads\/2015\/08\/IMG_0967-300×200.jpg”,”store”:{“source”:”~upload\/4-thumb-ff2cb7ff2ba462fd9220806c160318ae.jpg”,”width”:211,”height”:159,”mime”:”image\/jpeg”,”size”:36335},”large”:{“source”:”~upload\/4-large-ff2cb7ff2ba462fd9220806c160318ae.jpg”,”width”:300,”height”:200,”mime”:”image\/jpeg”,”size”:61162}}]},{“id”:”5″,”block”:”rte”,”content”:”

So one might ask themselves why this is the case? So many thoughts come to mind, the main one being that that most organizations take on too much too fast because they are desperate to help in anyway that they can as quickly as they can.<\/p>

In order to assist in an effective manner there are several points that people need to take into consideration and some of those would include the following:<\/p>

1. Do they need my\/our help? Now, this might seem like a silly question; especially in thinking about the recent earthquakes in Nepal. But you have to understand that almost immediately after the earthquakes hit, organizations were on the ground in Nepal attempting to provide assistance and aid. From helping with rescue attempts, to removing the ruble from downed homes to providing food and shelter. In some cases more help would have been more of a hindrance than anything else.<\/p>

2. If they need my help; these are the things I can provide…. Will these things be of assistance? Again, you might think these are silly questions but they aren’t. One story I was told while in Nepal, was about an organization that provided clothing to a village outside of Kathamandu. They mostly provided jeans , shorts and t-shirts. The women of the community did not want any of the clothing provided, which of course offended the organizations members. Had the people of this organization taken the time to do a bit of background research on Nepal and its cultures they would have been aware of the fact that few people in the rural parts of the country wear westernized clothing. Hindsight. Always 20\/20.<\/p>

3. What resources does this community already have at its disposal? There are always assumptions made about developing countries and the resources they possess and oftentimes instead of capitalizing on the naturally occurring resources in a country; aid workers bring in their own resources. In many cases this can cripple the economy within a community. Organization that give food aid are often guilty of this. They provide certain foods to communities that would otherwise be sold by the farmers of that community. That farmer’s crops go unsold or sold at a lower than anticipated rate, the farmer’s family can’t survive and so on and so on.<\/p>

The point of this blog is really just to make the point that people who head aid organization should really think before they act. There are far more things at stake when taking on an act of lending a helping a hand.<\/p>\n”,”class”:””}]}[/content-builder]

Posted By Maya Washington (Nepal)

Posted Aug 10th, 2015

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