Bishnu H. Bhatta is a country liaison for Nepal and Director of the Partnership for Sustainable Development (PSD), a non profit social development organization dedicated to alleviating poverty among children and youth in rural parts of Nepal. He provides the following updates about PSD’s activities:
Latest PSD Developments:
Mercer on a Mission (MOM) Project: Ten students from Mercer University, Georgia, USA, came to Nepal in June to work with PSD for three weeks. Two Mercer professors, Dr. Michelle Vaughn and Dr. Sybil Keesbury, led the team; two journalism students provided project documentation; and eight early childhood teacher candidates observed and practiced teaching for 12 days. The students first spent three days in country orientation training, which included Nepali language and cultural sessions. PSD also held a session regarding the education system, early childhood status, development, personal safety, and health system of Nepal. The eight Mercer teacher candidates worked alongside local teachers at the Tri-Ratna Co-operative School (TRCS) in Bungamati, Lalitpur. Dr. Loren Weybright, an International Education Development consultant, coordinated this unique project, along with the MOM professors and the TRCS management.
Youth Media Education Project: In February, 15 students and two teachers, Jeffrey Romanow and Natalie Vantuyn, from the Institute for Collaborative Education (ICE) high school, NY, USA, conducted a photo storytelling project at the Tri Ratna Cooperative School (TRCS), Bungamati, Lalitpur, for the third year in row. This year, 39 TRCS students, grades 6, 7, and 9, and seven teachers participated in the project. The TRCS students were divided into seven groups, with at least two ICE students leading each group. A TRCS teacher was also assigned to each group to ensure the sustainability of the project. In the morning, the ICE student/teachers led workshops in photo storytelling. In the afternoon, the TRCS students led the ICE students on a tour of their homes and villages. Dr. Loren Weybright coordinated the teacher training, along with the ICE faculty. PSD launched a photography exhibition at the close of the program, featuring photographs from the TRCS students and teachers that depicted the local culture, lifestyle, historical places, flora, and fauna. The students, teachers, parents, and the local community enthusiastically participated in the exhibition. Students from ICE also donated 21 digital cameras to TRCS.
Pipaltar Integrated Reconstruction Project:
Following the earthquake in April 2015, PSD-Nepal began implementing the Integrated Village Model Development Project (IVMDP) to rebuild the earthquake-ravaged community of Pipaltar, in Kavre district, with funding from Habitat for Humanity International Nepal (HFHI). The earthquake caused 87 of the total 89 homes in the community to collapse, forcing members of the marginalized Danuwar community into temporary shelters. The Danuwars and other ethnic families of the community are entirely dependent on farming. Lack of sufficient land for farming, illiteracy, and poor access to medical services contribute to their state of deprivation. This one-year resettlement project was successfully completed within the time specified by the agreement signed between HFHI and PSD Nepal on 4 March 2016. The project was implemented in a participatory manner, mobilizing and involving the community members in every aspect of the project. Every able family contributed around 500 hours of sweat equity; the whole community contributed around 50,000 hours toward the construction of their houses. The project provided safe shelter and masonry training to community members in a gender-inclusive environment. A total of 55 locals, including women, were trained as masons. After the training, the community members can use the knowledge and skill regarding earthquake-resistant technology in building houses outside their own village to earn a better income.