I am happy to report that NSP is alive and well and moving ahead with new projects. Having visited Nepal in November I would like to share my experience with you all.
Since Michael’s passing, no one from NSP Canada had visited the projects in Nepal and in fact there had not been a visit by a Canadian since 2010 when Michael was last there. Throughout this time, Michael and the current Canadian board had been in contact with our people in Nepal through email. The current Canadian board felt it necessary to visit and assess the situation of the board in Nepal. We were also interested in visiting the two current water installation projects that were being completed. I, as the new executive director, wanted to establish a meaningful working relationship with our counterparts in Nepal, as well as establish a new operations protocol so that we could move forward with new projects. To be able to plan for future fundraising activities with integrity in Canada, we needed to be assured that a transparent system of operations, sound economic practices with consistent leadership was in place there. Betty Irwin, an interested friend joined me on the trip. Betty has since joined the NSP Canadian board of directors.
After our arrival in Katmandu a contingent from the Nepalese Board (Rakam, Gyan, Babulal and Suraj, our translator) arrived at the hotel to meet us. They accompanied us to the nearby NSP office. More residents had come from the villages to welcome us. Some of the students that we have been supporting were there as well (Kunsang, Resam and Kesab). Many thought that NSP would not be revived since Michael’s passing and were very happy to know that we intended to continue with Michael’s work. We met with some members of the board each day to gather information. On Nov. 1 we had a formal board meeting at the NSP office. It lasted most of the day. Suraj’s translation skills were invaluable in creating an understanding between us. We all felt very motivated and encouraged as we prepared for the visit to the villages.
Our group (17 in all) composed of local board members, Betty, myself and some porters, set out to the villages in the Kaavre District on Nov. 3, 2015. We visited 7 villages in 7 days. At each village we met with the village committees to discuss their needs. As I had been to most of these villages previously it was wonderful to reunite with familiar faces and be updated on the new developments in their lives. Betty and I were overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity shown to us by the members of NSP in Katmandu and the villagers. We were invited to the homes of board members, blessed with prayer shawls and given food. Shrines to Michael were present in most of the homes and villages we visited. In the village schools, where we stayed, ceremonies to honour Michael were held at cultural gatherings and a minute of silence was observed to reflect on the work Michael had done. We were also present for the formal implementation ceremony of the new water system in Mahadevtar. The trip reminded us all of the incredible work that Michael had accomplished over his 30 years in the area. It also clearly highlighted what is still needed to further the health and wellbeing of the villagers.
Upon our return to Katmandu we met several more times with the NSP Nepal board. The purpose of these trips was to agree to move forward with several plans of action. All agreed that currently no new schools need to be built, however schools could be enhanced through solar power for computer installation. We also identified that the main priority of NSP over the upcoming year should be building latrines and water systems. Specifically, we agreed to go ahead with the building of 123 latrines in the Simle area. Lastly, we agreed that there needs to be more ownership locally over NSP projects. The action plans we created to encourage the transfer of responsibility to a more local level will be posted on the Nepal School Projects website soon!
Based on our conversations and meetings in Nepal, Betty and I feel that a sound base of operations and communication has been established. We feel confident that NSP Canada can develop a viable fundraising plan and that all funds collected will be used with integrity in a transparent and responsible manner. The people in Nepal are anxious to get to work.
I would like to conclude this letter by taking a moment to acknowledge generous donors to NSP. We received a very large donation ($95,0000 CDN) from a person who wishes to remain anonymous. As well, The Everest Marathon, who has been very generous in the past has come through again with a healthy donation. Because of these donations and our most loyal regular donors, NSP in financially sound for another year. These donations have also allowed us to begin implementing projects immediately since our return to Canada. We need to keep this momentum going as there is much more work to be done beyond this year. We are completely dependent on the generosity of our supporters and it is our sincere hope that together we can make a lasting difference in Nepal.
With gratitude and hope,