I still cannot believe my last week working for CONCERN is here. Summer just flew by! Even though I’m happy to go back to DC (after spending some days in India), I’ll miss Kathmandu, coming to the office and most importantly the friends I made at CONCERN. I think I’ll even miss the rain and the dust that are now part of my everyday life.
I want to use this last blog to reflect on what I did this summer and what I learnt through this experience. But before that, I want to say thank you. To AP, for trusting me and partnering me with CONCERN; and for always being on top of my needs during my time in Nepal. To the team of CONCERN (Bijaya, Prakash, Sundar, Manita, Sarita and Pemba) for making me feel at home this summer. All of the team welcomed me into the office with arms wide open and helped me to accomplish all the deliverables I had on my work plan. I’ll miss my conversations about soccer and politics with Sundar, the comparisons between Nepal and Argentina with Bijaya and the field visits with Manita…she always knew how to take the perfect picture! The good news is that we are all Facebook friends now, so I know we’ll keep in touch =)
I also know I’ll always be part of CONCERN. Before coming to Nepal, I was looking forward to working with this organization, particularly because of the work they do with children. But the reality exceeded my expectations. I found in CONCERN an organization that has been working in the field of child labor for a long period of time (more than 20 years!). I discovered during my time in Nepal that the fact that CONCERN has existed for so many years is a key asset. Not only because its past allows CONCERN to differentiate itself from a lot of fake NGOs that appeared in this country, particularly after the earthquake, but also because it is the reason why their program works.
As I said many times in previous blogs, CONCERN is now targeting children who work at brick kilns. It’s programs is centered not only in providing educational support for those children, but also in advocating with brick factory owners, parents and naikes (who are the ones that connect families in villages like Ramechhap with employment opportunities in brick factories in the Kathmandu Valley) for the end of child labor in the brick industry. In order to do that, CONCERN relies on the relationships and contacts they have built over the years with the owners of 4 factories in the districts of Lalitpur and Bhaktapur. It also relies on the contacts they have with community leaders and naikes in the district of Ramechhap. The trust built with these stakeholders over the years allows CONCERN to identify beneficiaries, to keep a constant contact with them and their parents and to do all the activities related to their program – from doing surveys to distributing uniforms.
The importance of trust is something that I learnt in this process, and a lesson I will carry for my future professional career.
I also learnt a lot about storytelling, fundraising and field-work. Not only I was able to share my experiences during the summer through my weekly blog posts, but I also produced a MASSIVE number of pictures that reflect my time here (check out my Flikr album) and, with the help of Sundar and Manita, made a new webpage for CONCERN. In order to produce these deliverables I had to use skills I though I didn’t have! In terms of fundraising, as you all know the Global Giving microproject is still on…we are almost half-way from our final objective, so please keep those contributions coming!
And finally, the most rewarding experience of all: interviewing children, parents and teachers. I have to say I enjoyed every moment related to this activity. From making the questionnaires, trying to be sure to include all the indicators that we wanted to track (family structure and problems, health, education, employment, self-esteem, characteristics of the dwelling, etc.), to preparing the databases where the information gathered on the field is kept, to doing the interviews and coding the data. And of course preparing a report with the results! Everything was a rewarding experience, especially meeting the children. As I said in another blog post, I had interviewed people in the past, but never children and never using a translator. Manita and I made a great team, and she was able to convey exactly the questions I wanted to ask in a very professional and kind way. The stories of these children are sad many times, not only due to the fact that they are working in brick factories, being constantly shouted at and exposed to dust, extreme temperatures and noise, but also because many of them live in very poor conditions and have problems at home like alcoholism of a parent. However, all of the children received us with a smile on their face and were extremely happy to take pictures and play with us. The warmth I got from those encounters will be with me forever.
Now is time to say goodbye. To go back to DC, to school, and my life there. But I leave happy knowing that I made great friends in Nepal and that I spent my summer working for a fantastic organization!
Posted By Cynthia Boruchowicz (Nepal)
Posted Aug 10th, 2017