dinsdag 27 maart 2012

With the parents...

It’s always interesting to see how people who arrive to Nepal respond to the chaos of the city of Kathmandu. The day my parents arrived I was only hoping they would cope well for the next three weeks. And I have to say I am impressed! Already the first day my dad was eating dahl baht with his hands, my mum was shopping at the local grocery shop and both were trying to grasp some first words of Nepali. Way more than expected. And there was more... The first Saturday my dad was running up the hill with my running group, the Himalayan Hash House Harriers. And I was trying to keep up with him! The first beer down down was a bit slow, but after that he got the hang of it. Luckily his muscle ache was way more than mine the next couple of days...  In the mean while my mum was exploring the shopping streets of Thamel, haggling over a scarf or some other kind of souvenir, and buying samosas or other nepali snacks at the small street stalls.
In the himalayan hash house harriers circle doing a down down
Off to Pokhara, not by plane but my mum and dad wanted to go by bus to see the country side. And I followed by plane... In Pokhara we went hiking to the Peace Pagoda and me and my dad did a two day trekking into the mountains. We ended up in a basic lodge and in no time my father was playing cards with the local kids with a baby on his lap, acting the real grand dad!

Coming back in Pokhara my mum has had a makeover at some beauty salon and we all went for a nice dinner. I was totally convinced they could make it to Chitwan by themselves. In Chitwan they even did some development work handing out a spare pare of reading glasses to a woman behind a counter and did a jeep safari seeing elephants and sloth bears. Back in Kathmandu full with stories they had their own favourite bar at Bhumi’s and planned the rest of their time visiting the palace, shopping and so on. When I came back from the festival my dad had already run another hash, haggling for a taxi and getting the taxi to drop him off at the right place. Thanks mum and dad for taking the effort to come here and still being the adventurous type! I’d say yes the apple does not fall far from the tree!

woensdag 21 maart 2012

Progress with Refugee Inclusion

Work in Progress with the Ministry of Education: Education Programmes for refugees and host communities around Camps for Refugees from Bhutan in Nepal

The Cause

The story of refugee education among the Bhutanese refugees in Nepal begins with their arrival at Maidhar river bank in eastern Nepal in early 1991. The Bhutanese were forcefully evicted from their country under the ethnic cleansing policy of the Druk regime. While they were finding shelter under the plastic tents and huts constructed out of the bamboo sheets, some parents took the initiative to continue the education of their children. In 1994 a local NGO in Nepal took over education program contract from UNHCR. Since then, this NGO continued to regulate the refugee education in all seven camps in Jhapa and Morang districts of Nepal.

The Here and Now

In 2011 many of the refugee camps have been closed and many refugees have left Nepal through a special immigration program within which they received permanent citizenship in countries like Australia and Denmark. However, around 60.000 refugees are still living in the camps. While initially Nepal did not feel much responsibility towards them, in recent years there has been a change of perspective. Different ministries started working together and, with the help of UNHCR, they came up with a plan to resettle the refugees by integrating them in the communities around. This plan is called the Community Based Development Programme.

The Work

One of the ministries to work on this program is the Ministry of Education. The Ministry of Education is responsible for integrating the refugee children into the schools in the communities. The schools in these communities are not equipped to receive such a big amount of children and therefore many changes are needed. Not only in the amount of teachers, the quality of education and in school infrastructure but also in the fear and prejudice that children and teachers have towards the Bhutanese children enrolling in their school. Together with UNICEF and UNHCR the Ministry of Education is now exploring means of ‘Peace and Integration Education’ for these children.

The Future

As a VSO volunteer working in the ministry it is exciting to be facilitating the initial stages of this project and to bring the Ministry of Education and UNHCR closer together in their working relationship. Let’s hope that this amazing project will continue and that these Bhutanese refugees will feel welcome and receive quality education in their new communities.

zondag 4 maart 2012

A Phd Ceremony and the Silk Road...

Last week I was in the Netherlands for a short ten day holiday to attend the Phd ceremony of my boyfriend.

After a one hour defence of his dissertation the moment was there and he received his Phd certificate in front of all his friends and family.

To award himself for four and a half years of hard work, he has planned a BIG trip following the Silk Road overland all the way to my doorstep in Kathmandu! It will take four months in total... Today was the day that he and his twin brother took off. Of course I will miss him, but every step he is coming closer to me in Nepal! Their first stop is Jordania.

You might want to follow their adventures at: http://www.famdijkstra.org/reisverslag.php?reisId=9