Community Engagement Day

27th November 2016

We decided the school yard would be divided into three ‘zones’, each representing one of Raleigh’s target areas, and each containing a stand of information. Fiona, our tremendous weekly leader, assigned different roles to each member of the team, roughly allocating three volunteers per stand. Our team leaders Nick, and Ed would be in charge of hospitality and refreshments, along with providing an extra pair of hands on the stands when they were particularly busy. Despite all of our preparation and nearly a week of planning, we really didn’t know how the day would unfold, and in addition to this, we had a visit from Country Office thrown into the mix.

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The event had a slow start. We had scheduled a start time of 12, unaware that by Nepali timekeeping this could mean any time after. We stood apprehensively in the midday sun for around 2 hours before the bulk of the villagers started to find their way up to the school. We were excited that our project partner, Rural Awareness and Development Organisation (RADO), would be in attendance with the news that they were going to provide the village with a new water system. This would greatly benefit the lower households and ease the frustration around the inefficient water distribution, so we waited eagerly for the community to arrive.

Much of the interest during the event was directed at the Livelihoods zone which was divided into income generation and farming improvement methods, as the majority of Ikchung relies on its agriculture, and tackling these areas would provide better financial stability for the village. Youth Development had less interest, but we were able to gauge the need for a youth club in the village nonetheless. Of particular interest to us was the attention around the WASH stand, as RADO had given us the target of providing 15 new hand washing stations and 15 toilets for the village. Through the stand, we were able to generate a list of names and signatures from members of the community who were interested in receiving one or both of these, and we almost reached our target in one afternoon.

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At the end of the event, when the attendees were winding down and enjoying refreshments, RADO made their grand announcement about the new water system. It was difficult for the UK volunteers to determine what was being discussed – from our point of view, it seemed like the conversation was very heated! Our Nepalese counterparts however, assured us that everything was alright, and by the end of the debate, we had confirmation that the village had agreed to the plans for the water scheme. It was a massive breakthrough for both the community and November Charlie 3, and we breathed a sigh of relief.

Despite our doubts, the day was a brilliant success. We managed to narrow down core areas of interest from the community – there was a lot of crossover between the information and opinions gathered at each stand, particularly WASH and Livelihoods. An agreement was also reached between RADO and the Water User’s Committee about a start date for construction of the new water scheme. All we had to do now was wait for materials to arrive before we could really get stuck in and make a physical difference in Ikchung. The day ended on a really positive vibe, with all of NC3 delighted with our new sense of direction!

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Written by UK volunteer, Louise (November Charlie 3)


Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Youth In Civil Society Nepal