Sometimes flowers ain’t enough…

I briefly mentioned last time that funding for SPN and NJC is coming to an end in September. They are considered to be short-term partners by the funders (FHI), and in an area where finance is tight, this makes both projects vulnerable, particularly when their entire operating costs are covered through this funding stream. Strategically funders are becoming much more geared towards co-ordinated planning, or as one Nepal wide HIV/AIDS project funded through USAID noted, “…focus(ing) on eliminating duplication of effort and rationalising donor activities to make them as cost effective as possible”. (ASHA news: July 2010: p1). The fact that both SPN and NJC deliver the same programme across different parts of the Kavre district cannot have gone un-noticed…and so it is that some of the immediate focus of my work is looking with both organisations at possible future funding options. Well I’ve certainly been here before back in the UK where virtually all of the projects that I managed were funded through “Supporting People”…..

Arniko Highway from Kathmandu to Banepa. John Callaway 2010

Arniko Highway from Kathmandu to Banepa. John Callaway 2010

The process does provide a useful reminder of the importance of infrastructure in getting things done. The majority of the large international non-governmental organisations (NGO’s) are based in Kathmandu, some 25km from Banepa.(Less distance than my daily work commute from Portsmouth to Southampton). This is the first time I’ve made the journey ‘on business’, where arriving on time is important. An 8.30 am start to meet with a single organisation in the centre of Kathmandu brings us back to Banepa some six and a half hours later, the meeting itself taking around about an hour. A second meeting with a different organisation doesn’t take place as the person with whom we were scheduled to meet isn’t there, (and this is not because we are late). The phrase “this is Nepal” seems to be a frequent rejoinder made by staff from both projects, and perhaps underlines some of the deep seated fatalism which at times appears to pervade thinking here….

Not everyone pays complete attention during meetings... John Callaway 2010

Not everyone pays complete attention during meetings... John Callaway 2010

At a local level it is still pretty much ‘business as usual’ at the moment, as I get to sit in on another of the monthly support groups run by and for PLHA’s. The emphasis is very much about sharing experiences and strategies for dealing with particularly situations. To hear first hand individual experiences is a privilege and a mark of the trust that the group places in me. Clearly this is crucial given that the Boards of both SPN & NJC are largely comprised of PLHAs. Perhaps of equal importance is that it provides a human counterpoint to the more managerial tasks that I am engaged in. To hear a woman who is HIV positive talking about her husband, (also HIV+) having just been hospitalised in Kathmandu, and the difficulties that this places on her in caring for their school-age daughter is a salutary reminder that services are, and always should be about people…

Sometimes there’s a song lyric to fit, so try “Flowers” off the album “Man Overboard” by  Ian Hunter….

“Hunger, anger, propaganda,

Ain’t it time we all grew up.

And we all got dreams but nobody’s listening,

Sometimes flowers ain’t enough”

…and the rains are now beginning to come, which brings yet another change to life here in Nepal.

Budol. Rice fields in the rain. John Callaway 2010

Budol. Rice fields in the rain. John Callaway 2010

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