Reflecting Back to Mentorship: Six months under Guidance

 

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                                The world is changing relatively faster than expected. The growing market of job is competitive and full of talent, where failing once means losing your job. The professional life is tough already, and its graph is increasing day by day. There are hundreds of professional coming out yearly with honed skills, talents and world life exposure. You cannot be left behind bewildering other progress.

                          Traditionally, the best way to learn was to find better master and be his/her apprentice. The evolving education system changed everything developing systematic progress of student to professional life. That does not mean need of mentorship/apprenticeship is bygone things. Still mentorship is considered best way to sharpening skills before you fail or simply learning by others failure. Your life is too short to fail on every step and learn from failure.

                           I got chance to be part of WWF Nepal The Generation Green Mentorship Program Batch 2 under mentor Anil Chitrakar (Social Entrepreneur). Along with me six others participated on this journey of six months. The main idea was to work one various creative project related to environment conservation, renewable energy use, 3R principle, wildlife conservation, and other several creative solutions. As we came from different background of study, it was hard for us to manage time for meeting and finalize our idea.

                    We were lacking confidence even we had ideas in mind, that’s where mentor guided us. He showed us light beyond tunnel and believed in our ideas. Every idea will work if you have courage to pursue them. These words still echo my ear and motivate me daily. Instead of focusing on single idea we tried cluster of idea as we had limited time of 6 months, so our ending point of idea would be starting point for upcoming groups.

                                 The main objective of our project was to establish a culture with a system of recycling, reusing and reducing of waste (food, plastic, paper, rubber & water). The basic task was to help in the conversion of low – end input waste into high value output. We helped to facilitate and bridge gap between waste utilizing institutions by innovative alternatives to appropriate potential market by designing ergonomically viable products as such:

1. Reusing Rubber Tire by Giving Aesthetic Values for Parks, Schools and Communal area.

                       The tire has been real issue as it cannot be recycled (economically at low scale in country like Nepal) or reduced but can only be re-used. We had re-used tire by integrating them into environment. They were used as flower pots for large plants, swings in garden or home, decoration by giving colors. We identified certain schools formed Eco-Clubs or youth clubs with whom we worked so that the sustainability of the project will not be an issue if local young people will take care of it.

Figure. Tire Gardening at Shree Janajyoti Secondary School, Banepa 

Figure. Tire Gardening and Orientation at Sainik School, Pokhara 

Figure.  Tire Gardening and Orientation at Ratna Rajya School, Kathmandu

2. Advocated use of recycled Plastic Bags into Ropes or Fibers for Agricultural Support:

                        We helped to recycle/reuse plastic bags as rope and it was provided as sample to farmers. This was done through the re-use of plastic bags by making ropes or fibers from them. The ropes can be used for making various green house, support for vegetable growth, building birdcage, temporary shelter and even making fences. The high strength plastic rope and fibers will come in handy for farmers for daily use.

3. Encouraging institutions for Creative use of Paper:

                     Paper is widely used for various purposes like printing records, brochures and leaflets. Reduce use of paper, printing on both sides of paper and promotion of e-communication was encouraged. On joint collaboration with Women’s Dream Multipurpose Ltd we made pencil out of sample old newspaper and encouraged such initiatives from other organizations.

Figure. Training and Sample Old Newspaper Pencil, Kathmandu

 4. Rain Water Harvesting

                         Due to ongoing water crisis and larger number of family residing in small houses, it was very difficult to fulfill the water need in household use. So, being a researcher in watershed management, Mr. Laxman Shrestha had constructed a very simple yet a very effective way to use the rainwater. We conducted interview to share his noble idea for public use.

Figure. Mentees interviewing Mr. Laxman Shrestha about Rain Water Harvesting 

THE LESSONS

                         Indeed six months mentorship has been great journey of my life. We were able to work on ideas generated by us. We could see transformation on ourselves as well as we felt that our activities made some level of contribution and influence on society. We were lucky enough to travel various parts of Nepal. We made lifetime friends and created memory. Plus we learnt about professionalism, discipline, time management and respect of fellow team member.

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Figure. The TEAM (YOUTH FOR CHANGE NEPAL)

                  I would like to provide note of thanks for Mr. Anil Chitrakar (Mentor), Ms. Shikha Gurung (WWF Nepal) and Mr. Dipesh Gurung (ECCA Nepal). It was pleasure to work with you guys: Anisha Adhikari (MBA), Bina Kharel (MBA), Nabina Gurung (Developmental Study), Senha Shakya (Engineer + MBA), Subina Shrestha (Developmental Study) and Sunwi Maskey (Environmental Study). Cheers!!!

Figure. Team Member Briefing About Project Impacts and Progress

Figure. Closing of Program. Team Member with Amrit Gurung 

Media Coverage: We are glad our work was shared on online (Glocal Khabar) and print (MyRepublica) media. Please follow link for more information.

Glocal Khabar: Old Tire Gardening By Youth For Change Nepal 

My Republica:The Generation Green: Teaching youth about nature, conservation and more

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A walk to Remember: Journey to Listhikot VDC (Chang Ching Village)

                     Travel is one of best way to learn things and explore beyond comfort zone. The less travelled road, after major Earthquake Nepal 2015, left Araniko Highway connecting Kodari to Kathmandu sees fewer commuters. After postponing my trip to Listhikot VDC for several times due to roadblock, it was finally decided to pack bag and hit the highway. After 5 hours of bus ride from Old bus park of Kathmandu we reached Barabise around 5:30pm in evening. As heavy and daily rainfall had brought several landslides blocking road access to Listhikot. So we decided to pursue journey following day hoping roadblock will be clear next day.

                  Ironically there was heavy downpour last night, which completely ruined our plan to travel by bus. We planned to go via any vehicle to Nayapool and then hitchhike uphill to Chang Ching (a village among several village of Listhikot VDC). It was early morning so there was less chance of getting any vehicle, as vehicle plying had reduced significantly after closure of Lasha border. We asked lift for every passing vehicle finally our luck turned out, we got lift from a truck-carrying quarry for ongoing hydropower project at Chaku. (Middle Bhotekoshi Hydropower Project) After an hour journey we reached at Nayapool at 7:00 am. We passed through Nayapool, a spot for bungee jumping and other various adventurous activities hosted by The Last Resort.

                       The uphill journey through fallen houses, temporary shelter of people and terrible sheds for animal brought chill on us. It felt like no presence of any authority or government in vicinity. The uphill walk made us so exhausted we had to make several stops and we ran out of water, which made journey more arduous. The steep hill, heat of sun and lack of water made walk difficult. After 3 hours of walk we reached first house of uphill village. We asked for water, owner of house very generously provided clean water (filtered water) for drinking. He expressed his grievances after earthquake, the losses and tragedies he had to go through.

                 Personally I found him quite traumatic and his odd behavior expressed those fear and anxiety. He said still he couldn’t sleep inside his house at night so generally he prefers sleeping in open space at smooth surface in uphill area. There have been repeated landslides, fracturing of land mass and majority of water sprouts around village area have been dried up. We could witness his saying when we roamed around village.

                     After few minutes walk from his house we reached our final destination Chang Ching village. The main aim was to inspect community kitchen made in Buddhist Gumba for approval of budget from government as fellow traveller was appointed as Civil Engineer in charge for re construction and rehabilitation in Listhi VDC. The journey provided very insightful things, difficulties at grass root level and presence of resentment about state. It came to light people are affected more as there is no income as Lasha border is closed as working as seller or vendor and purchasing daily goods for livelihood. Now they do not have proper shelter to live in, jobs to work and are purchasing Indian goods at higher rate.

                   This journey made me realized ground reality of many Nepalese life from ground zero up.

Swarga Dwari: The place where Spirituality Meets Technology

                      Nepal, country of mountains and holy places, boast on natural beauty and wilderness. The holy shrine of Swarga Dwari lies in western Nepal of Pyuthan district. It is one of popular destination for hindu devotees as one can feel in temple premises. Hindu devotees flung as far as from India to get blessing from shrine.

                 The holiness of temple traces back to discovery of ancient hawan area and related puja materials. The young shepherd traveling from far western part happens to be resting on bajh(a 100 year old tree located nearby) saw a vision that place is blessed by gods and once was place for worship of god. He asked fellow herders to dig around premises to discover ancient leftovers of hawans, vessels and other holy materials. It is believed he had supernatural power of healing, spent most of time in meditation, started school for teaching holy scripts, procured land for cultivation so temple attendees and follower will never be in scarcity for food. He is regarded as very holy person, you can see his statue inside temple.

                         The other story is: this was last place visited by Pandavas from Mahabharat before moving to heaven. The Pandavas were thirsty and Arjuna took a bow, aimed in ground to withdraw sprout of water to quench thirst. Still the sprout known as Kunda is visible downhill from temple. As Pandavas spend one night here before departing to Heaven (Swarga), often devotees spend one night here.

                          The Swarga Dwari Trust arranges food and residence for devotees in various Dharmashala in periphery of temple. The per bed cost is Rs. 30 and per plate food is Rs.100. The residence hall are primitive Nepalese mud house but decent one with mattress, blankets. It is wise to carry your own bedsheets. The food is normal vegetarian which includes rice, lentil and vegetables popularly know as “gods food”.

Major Attraction

Hawan Area with Eternal Lamp

              There is 24 hours, 365 days continuous hawan. The nearby was eternal lamp, I could not see lamp but was given through instruction how it was brought by pathak (priest are called so here). It is scared place where you give ghee, rice, oil and charu (mix of various grains especially made for hawan). No photos allowed here.

Main Temple

                This is place where you worship lord Shiva which is built upon grave of guru, founder of temple. The initial worship on this temple follows with multiple temple presence on the premises.

Bajh Tree

              The tree is supposed to be more than 100 years old. The importance, holiness trace back to resting place of guru who discovered this area so holds greater significance as you can see vermillion smeared all around.

Cowshed

              There are more than 250 cows reared in cowshed. The cows are supposed to be very holy and devotees throng to feed them flours (especially Satu) and salt. The excessive feeding of salt caused death of many cow so its forbidden to give salts these day. You can just deposit it in near by specified place.

Cave (Gufa)

            The cave is place where guru use to mediate. Supposedly it was place where Pandavas took shelter before going to heaven. It is naturally built place around 20 mintues walk around the hill.

School (Pathsala for holy teachings)

             The pathsala teaches student holy scriptures for continuity of tradition. The young boys keep chanting mantras, sloks, hyms, vajans from early morning. Usually they teach 3-4 years for student with compulsory 1 year practice as priest in temple.

Water Sprouts (Kunda)

          The Kunda lies 15minutes downhill walk. The water (jal) is brought from kunda for offering to god by pathak on barefeet without being touched by anyone. The water sprouts is believed to come into existence by piercing of arrow via bow by Arjuna from Mahabharat.

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Bhairavi Temple

          The 10 minutes uphill walk will lead to Bhairavi temple. From here you can have great view of surrounding area.

Technology

         The temple houses large solar power station providing and supplementing electricity for temple premises. The solar street lamp provides durable light throughout night. The solar lightening has been helping to keep life in night as main stream supply is so infrequent. The night life felt so lively with flashing white light around premises.

             There is large bio-gas plant which provides cooking fuel for people’s kitchen. The cow poop is used for making bio-gas which is very helpful for conservation of local forest and keeping far from LPGs. The bio-gas is enough sometime supplemented by firewoods for cooking.

            The temple is located in top of hill. It is quite challenging to fetch water for people. Although pumping is done by electric motor from downhill. We can still see rain water harvesting done around top of official building of temple.

        This is great gesture of adaption of technology for facilitating devotees. Thus Swarga Dwari is holy place with blend of spirituality with technology. This can be benchmark for other holy shrines to replicate in them.

MYTH’s

  1. It is believed once temple ran out of ghee for hawan. The guru asked his follower to go to ganga (Madi River) and burrow few tin cans of ghee. The follower being surprised went to river, drew few tin can of water and came to temple. The guru asked them to pour them hawan. The follower despite being reluctant to pour, poured on gurus command, to surprise it turned to be ghee. Again after couple of months when temple had surplus ghee, guru asked them to pay back ghee to ganga. When followers poured back ghee in ganga to their surprise it turned to be water.

  2. The guru was having discussion with his follower. The very eccentric bird yellow in color came from Northern side, guru spoke in birds language with birds. The bird flew back, curiously follower asked what he had spoken with bird. The guru said that his time on earth has come to end, the bird came to notify him. After few days guru became sick, called his follower gave them all responsibilities. There was some bright yellow spark glowing out of guru which rose high above temple, and rushed into northern himalayas. The guru was found to be dead by then.

  3. There was hunter who injured deer. The deer entered temple for sanctuary. The hunter asked guru to return back deer to him. The guru said “ I cannot offer you deer as it came for sanctuary in my asharm, ask anything other I will give you”. The hunter being adamant on his claim of deer and misbehaving, manhandling guru. The furious guru gave curse(srap) for hunter that he has to die of some disease. As matter of fact that happened.

About Guru

                       The couple in some far western Nepal did not have any son or daughter. They worshipped god and were believed to be blessed by god. That they will have son who will be actual incarnation of God. The mother gave birth to son, who was glowing with light since childhood. On 6th day when mother ate meat, son refused to suck milk from mother. Since child guru was supposed to be holy. Even it is believed that we could see universe inside the mouth of Guru.

Solar Training and Capacity Building : Power to the People

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                                    March 29, 2016 Before dawn of warm and fuzzy morning I woke with sharp shrill of mobile alarm at 5:00 am. As it was planned to meet at 5:45 am at Old Bus Park to move into another adventurous travel on off load leading to Dhunkharka, Kavre. The bus ride from Old bus park took us to Panauti via Bhaktapur, Sangha, Banepa. The real journey began from here accompanied by Mr. Subash Lamichane and Mr. Kancha Tamang. The 14km dusty, bumpy, narrow and scary road begun from Panauti steadily uphill climb in bus cramped with people, animals (chickens), kids crying, people yelling at each other. It was perfect like Hindi film melodrama at bus. Irony was that we were not able to get any seat through out two hours ride. Even within bus we had to wear mask and continuous shake up really made me tired. But internal motivation to go there and help people to sort things out, teach them, connect them to more reliable energy was continuously pushing me up.

                                        After travel of 2 hours we reached Dhunkharka. The bus stop was on top of hill to reach to our destination we had to go downhill and again uphill. The slow down hill walk began interacting with each other knowing about peculiar things about location. It was good to be back on hills among tress, clam and serene country side where nothing bothers you except cool breeze, birds chirp and perennial flow of river. I encountered various rural technology like water mill, hydraulic ramjet pump, fodder cutting machine, solar system. The very delicious meal was waiting for us, prepared from organic vegetables, grains crushed from water mills, cooked in improved cooking stove, rice grown in nearby fields. This was perfect amalgamation of technology with rural livelihood.

                       The training sessions began at 11:00 am. The 22 owners of solar system were present in upper floor of cowshed. It was great to see energy and enthusiasm in people. The training started with introduction of speakers and participants. The training was planned for 2 hours and following topics were discussed:

  • The initial session explained about what is renewable energy, Solar as renewable energy.

  • Participants were introduced about solar system and its components like Panel, Battery, Charge Controller and Load.

  • Installation do how and safety handling was demonstrated with system present on the location.

  • Various Procedure for Repair and Maintenance were provided.

  • Specific care handling, minor damage and quick repair locally was provided about battery, charge controller and loads.

  • Final solar power use calculation was done and how much load people can use with technology given to them was shown.

Training Outcomes

                          The people have been following malpractice about solar system handling. The solar panel were hung as photo frame in walls, no safety precaution were taken, people were brining in & out panels in rains, their perception was heat generated more power than light. About training accomplishment participants got chance to learn about each components of solar system. They are now able to assemble and dis-assemble the system on their own. The standard parameters like facing panels on south direction, keeping panels at 30/45 degrees, keeping battery far from heat source, use of loads according to power generation, sustainability of battery system, various light symbols and their meanings present on charge controller, minor repairs was provided. Overall looking after longevity of solar system with efficient use was provided.

                  After completion of training we visited two hydraulic pump operation at Chanaute and Ladkhu. We learned about bio-char preparation, its use.

                           The return was one of the most memorable journey of my life. The last seat of bus squeezed between a women with child and old grand pa. The lady by side was vomiting throughout journey while grand pa was drunk, mumbling and fumbling with words and directions. The smell from both side was killing me, as I sat contemplating about life. I endured situation, just invigorated into circumstance.

                                              This was one of my life awakening journey. What surprised me was humbleness and subtlety of people. Obviously they are cutoff from mainstream media attention still they are happy to be living there. There are numerous challenges but somehow they have managed to be living well. I hope to see better road access, sustainable clean energy supply, educational facilities, better health facilities and access to ICT be within their reach. The natural serenity shall not be disturbed, only right technology along with nature can develop Dhunkharkha.

Pani Ghatta : A Grinding Machine

                       Water mill is one of the clean and appropriate technology for grinding at local level. The most of part of Nepal still remains far from electric grid connection. The rural electrification has been catch word just to remain safely in vaults of Planning commissions.. Nepal faces one of the longest hour of blackouts as energy crunch nation we are struggling with basic right to energy access. The geographical terrain, improper settlements of housing system, challenges of hindrances on scenic beauty and landscape as tourism being one of major attraction, losses on transmission lines might be counter acting such kinda of electrification initiative.

                       The appropriate technology is recognizing need of local people, meeting their aspirations and bringing them one step closer to energy access. There is flow of water from higher hills to lower plains. Here gravity does most of the work. The Kinetic energy of water can be directly used for generating energy. Traditionally we have been harnessing such energy through water mill. Still today lots of people in rural areas are highly dependent on traditional water mill for grinding all required household goods such as flour, rice, wheat, spices and also oil in some cases.

Working Mechanism:

                       The water from head of 20m or above is brought in open or closed conduit. Traditionally wooden blades are used as turbine on which water jets are strike upon, jets rotates the bigger wheel mounted on smaller wheel. There is continuos feed of grains in between grinds into finer particles.

A story form DhunKharkha, Kavre

                           The village has perennial source of water, water mill is located near river close to the source of water. The villagers have been using water mill for grinding their grains. It was happy to encounter old mother who was grinding her maize on mill. She was so delighted to use it, as it has reduced efforts and time that people used to devote for grinding in traditional way. She explained although she is weak and fragile, she can help her family in some way. The use of water mill popularly known as pani ghatta is free to use. The opening and closing is as simple with supplying and cutting off water supply to mill. She is happy and proud user of water mill.

                                 This is what appropriate and proper technology can transform rural life. Helps in bridging gap in energy and technology use.

Tour de Pokhara: A journey of Pioneering

                             The holiday tours and travel Pvt. Ltd. Had four passenger who were on mission trip to Pokhara. Slowly parting from chaos, hustle & bustle, pollution of overly populated Kathmandu valley, bumping through pot holes of Prthivi Highway. Finally landed on serene, vibrant city of western Nepal, Pokhara (the city of lakes, temples with smiling mountains on outskirts). We had limited and tight schedule to follow up.

                         We, were staying at Damside near Tourist bus park. The plan was to re-unite with rest of team members who were already on the town. The main factor which brought here was TGG Mentorship program under mentorship of Social Entrepreneur Anil Chitrakar as part of it we were innovatively implementing and generating values out of waste (paper, plastic, water and food). The idea was to conduct orientation program about how can we use each waste into values by creative way like using waste paper for making pencil, rain water harvesting, waste food utilization in piggery business, waste plastic into ropes. And to provide hands on experience for old tire gardening to students, so they can replicate it further.

                          Sainik Awasiya Mahavidyala, already a vibrant school with large surrounding area would be ideal place for old tire gardening. The school authority along with army personnel really welcomed our purposal, a bit of hard works for getting them understand actually what we wanna build up. The gardeners and care taker actively joined hand with us. Along some army volunteered for carrying tires around school premises.

                     The old tires were initially washed with detergent powder and rubbed with clothes, so stains and mud would be washed off revealing clean surface. The washed tires are dried up on sun. Once tire dries up they are painted with several colors giving artistic and aesthetic values. As generally we make minions at gate, the concept is spreading and going viral as “ The Minion Effect”.

                             Personally, I had never encountered such curious and overwhelming students, so do team. Every passerby from junior students to senior students, teachers and army personnel were asking what we really were doing. Like teachers who were skeptical earlier day, even complained how ugly their compound would look after placing shabby tires. But they were amazed when they saw such appealing old painted tires. Many thought how cool, innovative idea it was. They were shocked to hear price of old tires, which is relative cheap then traditional flower vases based on mud and concrete. They thought of doing similar gardening at their homes, gossip like this was audible despite we were continuously working in creating values. Those smiles on face reflected their sense of satisfaction as entirely built section of old tire garden was ready welcome plants.

                             The orientation cum workshop incorporated various aspected of waste management as discussed above. The sixty enthusiastic student, environment science teachers, principal, vice-principal, other staffs actively participated in orientation. Our team leader made so loud and clear presentation of our activities. The program ended with question and answer session which was more effective and articulated as student and teachers pin pointed their curiously which was efficiently addressed. The paper pencil, paper bags were distributed among students. The paper pencil really proved to logical way to re-use waste paper. The school principal was positive about starting to make such pencil as they have lots of newspaper and exam papers. We thought this was really impressive and our action is really bringing change.

                          Finally plantation was carried out with participation of men-tees, teachers, army major, students and staff’s in all tire vases. The school administration were so glad to have us even they purposed to furnish whole compound with tire gardening. As we had limited time and budget for expenses we could not stay for longer duration. The two day ended with lots of travel, hard work, interaction with new and intelligent people, and we felt like really we did something to cheer up. The late evening cycling around lake side, Devis fall provided a sense of relief and satisfaction after hard work completed successfully.

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The TEAM

Word of Thanks

                         There are lots of people behind scene without whose help this was not possible to make happen. Sincere thanks for Senha Father for arranging residence and travel for first day. Thank you Col. Umesh Karki for arranging second day of travel with army jeeps and bus. Thank you hostel dai for cooking us so delicious food and showing around maps and direction. Thank you Sunwi Maskey who was able to make such hectic and continuous travel, despite exams, we really are glad to have you in team. Thank you Meghana who solely made travel on her own expenses to be with us. Last but not least we evolved as good team, respecting, laughing and working together, whose combine efforts made this event really “the grand Success”.

Cheers Mates.