I think I’m going to have the same relationship with Kathmandu that I had with London. It’s not too far from home, its got lots of interesting things going on, but after a couple of days I’m glad to be on my way again. With a meeting scheduled in the VSO offices last Monday, I decided that I’d spend the weekend beforehand there. The hour and a half bus ride offers time for reflection and the towns and villages that the Arneko Highway passes through are becoming more and more familiar to me, as are the roadside shops and the seemingly interminable roadworks.
The Pacific Guest House in Lainchaur is a comfortable bolt-hole that still offers an interesting window on the world, with the somewhat precariously balanced construction workers on the building opposite being this weekend’s offering. Two days in and around Thamel in the centre of Kathmandu is always going to be interesting, but in truth the countryside of the Kavre district is where my heart lies nowadays.
Needless to say there’s a delay to my moving into my flat, which now looks like being the first of July. A mixed blessing: the food at Chetana Kendra is very good and I have a TV on which I can watch the World Cup, (although frankly staying up last night to watch England’s performance against Algeria proved to be above and beyond the call of duty!). However not having my own space is becoming a little frustrating. In the birthplace of Buddha however, I’m learning about the value of mindfulness and allowing things to take their course….
The visit to the Anekot Village Development Council proved to be the highlight of the past week. Anekot is a Tamang village in the Kavre District, at the furthest reaches of Navadeep Jyoti Kendra’s (NJK) geographical area of work. I mentioned last week that the project is funded to deliver a programme called “Positive Prevention” to villagers in the District. (“Positive Prevention” is a worldwide FIH funded programme which is currently being delivered in different districts across Nepal by organisations similar to NJK). The one hour bus ride and two hour walk was commuted to a two hour motorbike ride through some of the most beautiful but remote and hilly countryside imaginable. Arriving at the community centre we were met with a group of around 35 (mostly women) and the outreach educators set about delivering the programme which in simple terms provides information about routes of transmission, practices to minimise the likelihood of HIV transmission, and the sharing of experiences. This is where the team really hit their stride, as they are themselves all HIV+, and are sharing their own experiences with the group. I’m following much more of the content now, (which is exclusively in Nepali) and its apparent from the rapt attention and subsequent discussion that the presentation has generated many questions.
And not a power point presentation in sight…! Posters with pictures, as well as written information are stuck to the walls with masking tape, whilst the educators have a communication style which is clearly engaging. (They have to work extra hard too, as Tamang, not Nepali is the first language of many of the villagers). Oh and the reason why the audience is predominantly female…this is one of the areas where the majority of the menfolk are working as migrant labour. And to recap from an earlier post, the highest prevalence of HIV is amongst labour migrants, with sexual transmission being the predominant mode of transmission in Nepal.
Sometimes its good to understand the importance of priorities…