Tuesday, August 2, 2011

the people and places your meet

clearly i have run out of inspiration for this uninspired blog, but here are some photos for those still playing at home. Photos are from 2 field trips i took recently to the Terai, Hills and Mountiain districts (1 of each) for conduct Focus Group discussions with community health volunteers about a particular program . It was hot, and humid, and sweaty, people generally avoid the terai in the monsoon. I now understand why.

 Female Community health volunteers in Dang. temp 30 degrees, humidity, probably 90%

 Old lady, 75 years old, widowed at 28, 4 kids, just got back from Muktinath a sort of hindu pilgramage site, she was pretty cool. 
 Moutnains in the Mist , Sindulpalchowk
the cutest thing to hit the terai since baby donkeys - a kids school carriage. unfortunately it seems as though nepali kids a trained not to smile

Terai sky after a storm, from a Sai Baba Ashram. True story.  

Thursday, June 9, 2011

you've been in nepal too long

when your friends put into words something you have been thinking about for along time. my dear friend cocomo  put together this blog post about life and living in KTM/Nepal


you know you've been in nepal too long  when you stop paying attention to the political protests and rallies


Monday, June 6, 2011

sleep deprivation central

yes yes blog neglect, I would say its probably because everything seems very ordinary after 7 months\ and im lacking inspiration but really...i suspect its just severe sleep deprivation.

i have recently come to the conclusion that kathmandu, might be the noisiest place on the planet. this conclusion isnt based on rigorous analystical studies, well collected data and tested noise pollution and decibel levels, but more on the fact that I havent had a decents night sleep in 7 months and the fact that currently Im listening to
   a. dogs barking
     b consistent beeping and noise traffic
      c . the girls i share my office with sing along off tune to their ipods (separately)
      d. the office reception phone ringing
.      and e. office chitchat.

in descending order of annoyaing i would rate C as the worst and B as the easiest to block out
I recently went to sydney for a week or so, and despite the fact that i was sleeping in my parents kitchen on an inflatable mattress , it was about the best sleep ive had since moving to nepal (the other best sleeps would have been a. while trekking and b. a weekend in bangkok) my parents were amazed that I could sleep through their morning coffee and breakfast routine , the kookaburras and TV and awake at the leisurely hour of 10am,  I explained that  hearing a coffee machine in the morning is about the least offensive morning wake up call i have heard in the  past 7 months.

this morning I woke up from some pretty dead slumber to what sounded like a truck driving through my dreams, i thought maybe i had over slept, but no...it was 545 am. shortly thereafter the dogs started (the dogs who had only stopped at 12 midnight...and i only know this as thats when I gave in and put in some ear plugs) then the saag walla started his daily routine of shouting out if anyone was interested in buy his very good ssaag at 6am , followed by the rubbish guy followed by increasing traffic , followed by every other imaginable noise, dance music, the kid next door playing his bass, someone bouncing a basketball....you catch my sleep deprived gist ...and I don't just blame the nepalis for getting up and at 6am, i blame the builders for not building well insulated houses, and no double glazed windows, and the fact that i sleep above a corner where EVERY car that goes past beeps to let traffic coming the other way know they are coming through, (rather than slow down).
but its not just my bedroom, its the streets – riding and walking along the streets would be enough to give the feint hearted a headache... its the office which echoes like a canyon , or my colleagues who have nothing to do sit and gossip all day

KTM, i do like you, alot, but let a girl get some uninterrupted sleep every know any then

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Nepali Driving Offences

Every day I have the pleasure of riding my bike to and from work and often places in between. Somedays I get a clean easy run to work and can get there in under 20 minutes. other times I can get stuck traffic 9even on a bike) and sit stuck between motorbikes, tuktuk/micros, buses and a thousand and one suzuki maruti's and it takes me close to 40 minutes to get home. apart from breathing in the diesel and dust, it gives me an clear insight into some of the worlds worst driving (maybe second only after melbourne)

an abbreviated list

smaller offences
- not indicating when turning left, right, pulling over, or ever
- indicating left, to show that you are turning right
- indicating right to show you are turning left.
- indicating to indicate you are in fact staying on the same road.
- beeping
-beeping at people driving the opposite way as far as possible away from you in the oncoming lane.

Larger offences
- beeping to inform and  overtake someone on the outside, only to pull over  right in front of them, saving  approximately 2 seconds
- beeping to to inform and overtake, only to pass, slow down and then stop, eventually to be passed by the initial passee 100 m down the road.
- beeping to inform and overtake and then drive just slow enough infront to be annyoing
- cutting off on the outside, without beeping
-cutting off on the inside, usually as the person in front is turning a corner, without beeping

Largest offences
- throwing a U -turn, across 4-6 lanes of traffic, on one of the major arteries in the city, blocking up both directions, in a large white four wheel drive (this is usually reserved for govt officials and people who think they are important, but not INGO, NGO, Agency cars, embassy) - for those of you playing at home, this is equivalent of someone u turning across military rd/spit hill at peak hour. 3 times over
- sitting in a line of traffic on a 2 way, 2 lane street and deciding that they are too good to wait for the traffic, and trying to cut in ahead, thus blocking the otherwise free flowing on coming traffic, but failing to respond to the (warranted) beeps, and cause and even bigger jam.

the list goes on and on,

oh and for anyone reading...check out my friend J Dogs Mongol Rally blog somewhere over there on the right. Those boys are driving London to Mongolia in a suzuki maruti. or something similar ( and need your support)

 as seen at the central traffic police office HQ , where i got to spend a few hours last friday trying to retrieve my counterparts car in what had been a typical Nepal driving incident. She was hit by a guy in  4wd, and then proceeded to hit him as they tried to chase him down. they ended up paying for the fine, as the guy was a lawyer. apparently they don't have any hard an fast rules about who pays at car incidents. more like, to the better arguer goes the victory. but that incident is a whole nother story.



Thursday, April 28, 2011

too long betwen drinks/ a lesson on delivering health care in Nepal pt 1

I had intended to psot this all as one, but its long. I'm at work and procrastinating and havent yet had a chance to get my photos from my computer to my laptop to the interwebs. will post soon.


walking through the Himalayas, or the foothills of the Himalayas gives you an appreciation of how easy life can be and an understanding of the difficulties of delivering health care in Nepal.
My parents had planned a trip to nepal that happened to conincide with the first round of the 2011 National vitamin A program. Which the Nepali organisation i work for is heavily involved in, I had planned to travel to the far east of nepal to observe the Female Community Health workers distribute vitamin A to children between 6 months and 59 months, (all in all more than 3 million children are dosed twice a year in an internationally lauded program that delivers vitamin supplements through community health staff). but things being as they are, and this being Nepal, my plans changed and I ended up incorporating the Vitamin A distribution into a 5 day trek, or a 5 day trek into the Vitamin A. Carrying along with my thermals, boots, sleeping bag and assorted technical gear, I had  a shoulder bag full of vitamin A, albendazole (the children are also given a dose of albendazole for deworming) communications materials and a few other bits and pieces. Stopping as my parents stopped for water and tea to ask the local female community health volunteers if they had enough supplies, and talking to mothers and young women about the supplementation, I am happy to be away form my desk, writing reports, and actually observing how it is possible to deliver health care to remote (and not so remote ) communities. the NVAP reaches something like 96% of Nepali children, which given the terrain of much of Nepal is quite an incredible success when you realise how far people have to go for health services. Asking one lady where she goes for health care if necessary, she names a village . How far is that? I ask. 2 days walk she responds.
Keeping in mind that I am on a heavily walked trekking route not to far from a main town , you can easily double or triple the days walk to  health facilities in the remote mid and far west regions (which i've talked about here) FCHVs are the frontline of medical care in nepal, 48000 women across nepal provide basic (and increasingly) technical medical and health care, these women give families, mothers and children essential supplies of ORS, iron supplements, zinc supplements, deworming tablets and vitamin a, pneumonia medications, and family planning advice in the remotest parts of nepal.

I arrived in the village of Ghandruk, (above)  after a ong (9hour) absolutely amazing. I asked along the way for the health post and the local mahila swayamsevika (pardon my nepali spelling) or FCHV/. Trying to explain that no I wasn't sick but had come to meet with the FCHV I was taken by a friendly mother of 5 who was suffering from a chest infection to the FCHVs house, marked by the same sign all across nepal.  I was greeted by a friendly middle aged Gururg woman who had been working for 22 years as a FCHV, and had 3 children of her own, one working in brisbane of all places. On top of her regular business as mother, wife, and guesthouse proprietor this woman spent 5-8 hours a week in her role as an FCV. Delivering community based health care in the form of iron pills for pregnant women, management of childhood illnesses, family planning and other assorted tasks. I asked if i could join her the next day as delivered some of the capsules that I carted through the mountains.

...part 2.....the distribution and photos to come..... 

Friday, April 1, 2011

a bigger picture?

After reading this aid/development blog  and this AYAD blog, I found myself sitting in a pretty lacklustre (we didn't even have a banner ) run of the mill data collection and field research methodology workshop (having just skills transferred /capacity some GPS knowledge) contemplating my job/current work/and chosen career (or my current career, maybe another 12 months of this and i'll be ready to pack it in and go back and use that law degree i did).

one blog piece is about motivation to work in humanitarian aid/development and the other is a personal experience of getting down and dirty with some locals (sorry to both authors for a crude overview of 2 very good posts). so i was contemplating and sort of falling asleep, and wondering whether what I have been doing here in Nepal is really for the good of anyone (mankind, children, women, Nepal etc etc). deep questions for a thursday afternoon I know. and also contemplating why I decided to do what I do (which is an ongoing pastime)

regardless of motivation, and my boring inner dialogue, its certainly hard at times to see how a desk job running, writing, reviwing, and developing  training workshops, is contributing to Nepal's development, and it certainly feels very distant.

its pretty easy to see the disconnect between
and this

But if that means that health workers know how to encourage

(young women)
to take iron tablets and avoid birth complications and Skinny children like these dudes

then i guess thats a good thing, right?

 peace out


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

a blog4NZ

this blog post- is part of the blog 4 NZ,  which is reminding people that theres way more to NZ at the moment to the earthquake, and well performing rugby teams. if you've got a blog do it. if you dont. read about it.

sorry in advance for the cheese - peace out to my kiwi peeps.

NZ is a place close to my heart and home to half of my extended family. i',m lucky enough to have been mroe times than i can count and even lukier to have a holiday house there near queenstown. i love NZ. i love the people. i love the countryside and the mountains ,rivers, beaches, towns, roads, tramps, sun, clouds, rain that make it such an amazing place to visit.

I dont get homesick in generall, but when I yearn for home and the familiar its not usually for sydney, or australia i get wamr fuzzy memories for NZ. for the countryside where i spent childhood holidays, eating tip top hokey pokey icecream, annoying my older cousins, bullying my younger brother, fishing, walking, swimming, performing ad hoc plays. for my late grandparents, family road trips, the road between christchurch and queenstown, the green, the snow, lake wakatipu, the view of mt cook at lake tekapo.