Greetings! I hope everyone is staying out of the heat and enjoying their summers. I’m currently in Surkhet waiting for the Road to open up to Kalikot, and it is HOT. This time of year is the monsoon season and over the course of the day it is either raining or hot and steamy. I’ve spent the majority of my days in one of Surkhets few air conditioned rooms, and recently wrapped up some of the consulting work I was doing while home. Since finishing work, I’ve finally had some time to catch my breath. I’m still working to get emails sent and everything in order before I go off the grid, but the slowdown has been an interesting change of pace. I’ve really had the time to reflect on the current state of the project, and being back in Nepal has certainly refreshed my memories of both the ups and the downs from last year. Despite the challenges of last year (a year I’m very glad is behind me), I am extremely optimistic about the future and the impact we can potentially make in Kalikot.
For those of you who click into this via Facebook you likely saw that we got our tax exempt status approved from the IRS. This has been a LONG time coming and due to a host of reasons the IRS has been working very slow to pass along approvals. That said, the letter finally came and I couldn’t be more excited about the impact it will have on our efforts. Raising money (a necessary evil of non-profit work) is challenging as is, and having a pending tax status did not help. With our approval we can much more legitimately approach larger organizations and foundations for grants and partnering opportunities as we work towards a strong and sustainable future.
Outside of our tax-status we recently put together a list of Quarter Three operational goals which include:
1. Developing a standalone clinic and community center, with adequate facilities and an open door for Oda and surrounding villagers.
2. Training the doctor on clean birth kits and distributing 50-75 kits to expecting mothers.
3. Continue efforts with existing schools, working on teacher training and strengthening their English program. More tangibly, our goal is to achieve 75% school attendance over the next two to four quarters.
4. Develop stronger ties with community members empowering strong facilitators to take a leadership role in the community and the Foundation. Specifically, we want to identify 4 to 5 local woman to serve as local facilitators
It is my hope that by laying out goals on a quarterly basis we will be able to more effectively monitor the efficacy of the organizations efforts, while also identifying our ability to efficiently get things done. I will do my best to update the blog, the board, and our mailing list with quarterly updates discussing the previous quarter’s milestones and the upcoming quarter’s goals.
Outside of the project, adapting to life has been a challenge at times. I think the most challenging aspect is my current status, which feels a bit like Limbo. While I love the people of Surkhet and my former students, this place is not my home like it once was and that can be a tough pill to swallow. Despite this bitter pill, I’ve still felt much love from my old home and upon arriving in Surkhet I was warmly greeted by some of my favorite people; our doctor and his family, Gogan Malla, and Dhan Uncle. It was wonderful showing up to such friendly faces. I asked the doctor to come meet me in Surkhet so we could come up with a game plan for the next few months. As a result of the monsoon the roads to Kalikot can be quite fickle open some days and closed on others, it took him nearly three days to get down. If anything I’ve learned from this trip it is to remain conscious about when I come and go. I think going forward I will do my best to avoid the monsoon season!
Outside of seeing the doctor, and the Oda team, I’ve also seen some of my former students while bouncing around town. Just yesterday I was at the end of my run when I heard a few people scream “John Sir”. I turned around and 4 of them came running in my direction including Sunita, who I’ve sponsored for the last two years! It filled me up with so much happiness and energy to see their faces and smiles. As an aside, sometimes while working I feel like I have a tank which fuels the desire to keep working for the people of Oda and Nepal. There are down days and up days and when I saw the girls I was kind of in a funk. The road was closed, and I wasn’t sure when I’d be able to get up to the project. To take the metaphor further, I was definitely running on empty. Well… after spending just two or three hours with my former students I can safely say that the tank has been filled up. Just hearing “We Love you and we miss you” was so good for my psyche.
It sounds like the road will be open and I’ll be hitting the road on Sunday but I will do my best to post another update before then. I haven’t been stellar at updating the blog over the summer, but above all else I want to thank everyone who helped make my time at home such a success. It was a successful trip back for the foundation and for me personally. I had the opportunity to spend a lot of quality time with the people I care about most…granted there are still lots of people that I haven’t had the chance to catch up with yet.
Thank you everyone for everything!