My latest placement through Accounting for International Development is with ERDCN, Educational Resource and Development Centre Nepal. ERDCN works with marginalized and impoverished women, many of whom also suffered in the earthquake in 2015, in the Ghorka District of Nepal.
When the opportunity arose to visit the district I jumped at the chance. A five hour bus journey was required. There is a two lane highway out of Kathmandu Valley and it is used by all vehicles, slow and otherwise. It appears there is a complex system of indicator signals, honking, headlight flashing, and arm waving to indicate whether or not it is safe to pass into oncoming traffic around bends and over crests! The journey was so picturesque I ignored the impending peril on every mountainous bend.
I was fortunate to arrive on a day the team from across the region was meeting, and learn firsthand about the work being carried out.
The highlight of my trip was a visit to Janajagriti Mirkot where there is a very strong Community Learning Centre (CLC), a registered government organization, supporting 31 women’s groups, to see some of the projects financed by microloans.
There is a revolving loan fund that provides interest free micro loans of 10,000 NPR (approximately $100 USD) each to women recommended by the CLC committee. These loans are used to invest in a small scale farming such as poultry and goat raising, or petty trades, for a period of six months. The program has been very successful, with the fund operating in this district supporting up to eight women at any time.
Continuing the theme of adventurous transportation, the only way to reach the community was by motorbike! I had not been on a motorbike since I was a child and my father would take us to chase kangaroos out of the fields – certainly a long time ago! I need not have been concerned, the honking, flashing system worked, and we completely avoided head on collisions before going off road.
Our first stop was a rice field financed by a micro loans. This project is run by a collective of 86 people, and includes this field, and sale of agricultural materials.
It was a beautiful peaceful field, and the community members were very happy to welcome us.
We then rode to the top of the mountain, with spectacular views, all the way.
There we visited the Mirkot Jana Jagriti Community Learning Centre. It was an honour to meet Subbini Lamichhane, who has been running the centre for nine years. She is a social mobilizer who has seen significant improvements in the community in relation to women’s literacy, health and safety, and the creation of small businesses through micro loans. We met some of the women in the literacy class, and saw the library, before visiting a chicken farm that had been financed by a one of the loans in the fund.
The following day we visited projects in Ghorka. We were able to see chickens, goats, and vegetables being farmed for sale. These projects have also been financed by micro loans of 10,000 NPR.
Many of the communities and villages have been significantly impacted after 10 years of internal conflict, followed by a devastating earthquake, and ERDCN has made a difference in the lives of so many people in the region. It is always humbling to meet such inspiring people, and see the great work they are doing.
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