When Flood Waters Rise

The flood waters have long since receded in Nepal’s Morang district, but for families whose homes were destroyed by extensive flooding in August their process of rebuilding is only just beginning.  MCC’s partner, the Brethren in Community Welfare Society (BICWS), has been reaching out to the community members it knows and loves by providing emergency food, recovering agricultural inputs, and supplying materials for rebuilding damaged homes.

On a recent trip to BICWS’s working area, we had the honor of meeting several of these families.  Life was hard even before the floods.  Homes of landless families line the narrow dirt paths between rice paddies, and most experience extensive discrimination due to their socio-economic standing.   In an area that is used to regular flooding, this year’s unusually heavy rains swept away the few positions many of these families owned: a change of clothes, a cooking pot, a few chickens.

Even so, we arrived to the sounds of laughter and play.   A bamboo swing had just been hung from a tree for Nepal’s festival season, and the entire community gathered to watch their kids smile and swing.  It makes sense that resilience is most brilliant in the hardest of places.

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Past the swings, we were lead through the small village.  A place where everyone knows everyone’s needs, including those in greatest need of all.  Many families were living in makeshift structures formed with plastic tarps provided through BICWS and MCC emergency funds.

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At the very back of the village, we were introduced to Khaili Devi Rishidev.  Khaili Devi, age 58, stood in front of the small swath of land that used to be her home. She and her extended family lost a total of 5 small houses, along with 8 goats, 15 chickens, their small kitchen garden, and the majority of their clothing and household items. Stranded in a clump of bamboo for three days without food or water until the flood waters receded, Khaili Devi was relieved to receive emergency support but remains in shock over what she describes as the worst flooding her small village has seen.

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Khaili Devi and her family are now living in a temporary structure they made out of bamboo and tarps while they prepare to rebuild their home.

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As we seek to serve with compassion – especially among the most vulnerable – in Nepal, we are deeply grateful for our partners like BICWS who reach out to their communities not only through long-term development projects, but also through being among the first responders during emergencies like these.

This year MCC responded to the flooding in southern Nepal by providing emergency food assistance and tarps to 1,290 families in Morang District (through BICWS) and Kailali District (through MCC partner Sanjal/WACT), and is currently implementing an intermediate-term recovery project among 323 families in Morang.

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You can learn more about MCC’s current global disaster responses here: https://mcc.org/learn/what/relief/disasters

Applications Now Open for Young Adult International Volunteer Program

MCC Nepal is looking for Nepali unmarried Christian youth (18-30 yrs) who are passionate about peace and community service to serve in 11-month volunteer internships from August 2018 to July 2019.  Volunteers live in a new culture while serving in places like schools, farms, NGOs and day cares. Placements are in countries where MCC works around the world, including Asia, Africa, Latin America and North America. More information on these programs can be found at http://yamen.mcc.org/ and http://ivep.mcc.org/

The first step to apply for this program is to write an essay responding to the following questions, and submit it to MCC along with a recent CV:

How have you served or volunteered with your local community and church?

What is your personal vision for peacebuilding and community service in Nepal?

What are your thoughts on how the church can be more effective in serving the community?

Essays will be judged based on content, readability, originality, Biblical references, fluency of English language, and adherence to the below stated essay requirements.

Word count:  1,000 minimum to 1,500 maximum

File format: PDF

Submit essay and CV to: connectingnepal@mcc.org

Deadline to apply: October 13, 2017

The writers of the best essays will be invited for an interview at MCC’s office in Ekantakuna, Lalitpur.

Applicant Requirements:

  • Between the ages of 18 and 30
  • Committed Christians who are active church members
  • Unmarried
  • Completion of a Plus two or intermediate degree in any field and enrolled for Bachelor degree study
  • Excellent English skills

 

Applications by women, members of marginalized ethnic/caste groups and residents of rural/remote areas are particularly encouraged.

A year in Canada: reflections from Simon

By Simon Raut, IVEP Alumnus 2016-2017

It was always my dream to land in North America. But a dream is only a dream until and unless it turns into reality.

After I finished my Bachelor of Science in Physics, I joined Master of Arts in Sociology/Anthropology. When I finished my two years of study, I started teaching in a school. In 2015, I saw an advertisement of MCC Nepal in a website regarding the opportunity for Nepalese young adults to achieve international experience. Even though, I had no any expectation to be selected for the program, I sent my application to MCC Nepal.

Despite my doubts, MCC Nepal called me for an interview and eventually with several screening process, I got selected for the International Volunteer Exchange Program for Canada. That day, I really thanked God and MCC!

The dream was going to be fulfilled very soon, but the thirst of curiosity was not quenched yet because still that time I had not that much knowledge and idea about MCC, Mennonite Community, and the whole program.

I arrived in Canada in September 8, 2016. Our first orientation was in Cross-Country Camp, Kitchener where I got to meet with many friends from different countries of the world. In that orientation I got more information about the IVEP program, MCC and its Mission, and North American Culture. After a week, we separated apart for our respective placement to serve for a year.

1. Picture with my host family

Simon with Host Family (3)

My placement was in Ranch Ehrlo Society, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. This non-profit organization serves among youth with differing abilities. In the beginning of my first few days, I was really nervous because I had never dealt with challenging behaviors before. But later on, with the help of my other colleagues and organizational support, I gained skills and tools to work out with young students.  As I got familiar with the class, students, and the goal of the organization, I started to enjoy with my placement. This placement gave me insight into how a group effort can make a big difference in the lives of young adults who have differing abilities. The most satisfying thing was that our small effort for small changes in their life was huge achievement for them.

During the year, I also got connected with COSA and volunteered for them. It was another great experience for me. COSA stands for Circle of Support and Accountability. It is a restorative justice program for men and women who have committed serious sexual offences. It allows the community to play a direct role in the restoration, reintegration, and risk management of people who are often seen with only fear and anger. I was one of the COSA’s volunteer in Regina city, where I participated every week in a COSA meeting. It was like a family gathering time where the core members as well as other members of the group could receive love, support, and zeal in a friendly environment.

Besides that, I learned many more things with the connection of MCC, host family, and the local church. I got to know more about North American culture and trends, MCC, and how it is working for peace and development in all over the world. I learned that peace is not just the absence of noise or disturbance, but it is an action which emerges out of mutual love, respect, and dignity, acknowledging each other’s ideas and identities. Sometimes conflict arises through our mentally rooted stereotypes about others. Since, one side is never a complete truth, it is better to observe from all sides to avoid assumption or stereotypes which are always blocking factors for peace and development of human society.

Additionally, I found Mennonite Communities are quite generous and kind in North America.

There are many more things to share from my IVEP year 2016-2017 experience, but sometimes words are not enough to explain. Anyhow, it was the best experience in my life. Thank You MCC!

Stay tuned for information on the application processes for the 2018-2019 IVEP and YAMEN programs!

Learning and serving in Cambodia: Susma’s reflections

By Susma Rasaili, YAMEN Alumnus 2016-2017

Carrying too many feelings of excitement, nervousness, imaginations and doubt, I flew to Cambodia exactly 12 months ago. This was my first ever experience of leaving my country for a long period.  I had just finished university, and the YAMEN (Young Anabaptist Mennonite Exchange Network) program was something that I was really looking forward to participating in.

I took a long deep breath when I finally landed on Phnom Penh International airport. Suddenly my body felt something different because the climate there was very hot and humid, but that climate didn’t take my excitement for long as I met my coordinators and fellow exchange participants. There were 8 of us who were from Canada, Costa Rica, Kenya, U.S, Zambia and of course, myself from Nepal.

First, we had a great orientation for about six weeks where we learned history of Cambodia, its language called ‘Khmer’, MCC’s partner organizations and other different interesting places.   Later, we all were shifted to our host families and started working in our host placements.

My host family was in the northern part of the city and my workplace was 20 minutes away on a bike ride. I worked as an International Communication Advisor at Far East Broadcasting Company (FEBC).

1. Picture with my host family

A pic with my host family.

My 11 months of stay in Cambodia has given loads of memories which I will always cherish. Learning a new language was fun. There were some Khmer words which would be inappropriate in my native language, but the giggles that I used to get listening to those words are unforgettable. I remember learning to ride a bike, and to my surprise, I did that within 45 minutes. I valued the importance of my family, church and friends more when I felt their absence. And I experienced that people become more patriotic when they are away from their homeland. But at the same time, I must say that Cambodians are very warm & welcoming, always ready to help and care for expatriates. My host family was amazing; they showered tons of love on me. Regarding my work, I got to learn many professional skills which helped me in my personal development too. The staff of FEBC were very supportive. I miss all of them so much!

2. Pictures with co-workers at FEBC

“Living life in abroad is not easy”, I felt, but this is how I grew. Despite several challenges like food, climate, language, culture and belief, I learned that ‘difference is not our barrier but it is what makes us unique from each other’.

Before, I used to have so many stereotypes regarding certain groups of people and places, but living there made me feel that one person can’t and will never represent a whole group of people.  It is important to respect others culture as we want our culture to be respected. Seeing another person as a human being first, rather than labeling him or her based on gender, race, religion or caste, is what has made a deep impression in me this year.

Overall, I praise God for His safety and strength through which I was able to accomplish my mission. There were also times when I was spiritually dry, but in the dryness I felt the power of God pouring in me.

Last but not the least, this year was a year of learning for me. I learned about myself, about a new country, about life and the unseen work of prayer. But learning doesn’t end here… there is a long way ahead waiting for me…

Stay tuned for information on the application processes for the 2018-2019 IVEP and YAMEN programs!

Faces of Hope and Recovery: Meet 8 people involved in MCC’s Nepal earthquake response projects

1.Shobha B.K. Sunchiuri, Vegetable farmer and mothers group member

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Shobha shows off some of the mustard greens she is growing in a greenhouse to extend the growing season in the cool, high-elevation climate of her village in Rawadolu, Okhaldhunga. MCC partner SAHAS Nepal provided nutrition training and agricultural inputs and expertise to the mothers group that Sobha is a member of as part of a food security project. This mothers group is now part of an earthquake recovery project to repair water systems for both drinking and crop irrigation and to provide support for livelihood recovery (MCC photo/Luke Reesor-Keller).

2. Tarapati, Mental illness survivor and cattle farmer

8-Capture“KOSHISH has changed my life. People today treat me with respect”.

Tarapati (name changed for privacy) suffered from mental illness resulting from trauma he experienced during Nepal’s armed conflict in the early 2000’s. After he experienced further trauma from the earthquakes in 2015, his symptoms worsened. He was treated by traditional healers but showed no signs of improvement. His family didn’t know how to treat his condition, so they locked him in a room as a response to his erratic and aggressive behaviour.  MCC partner KOSHISH heard about Tarapati’s condition, and brought him to their mental illness residential treatment centre. After five months of therapy and medication, Tarapati recovered and was able to return home to his family and resume his normal life again as a cattle farmer and shop owner. (Photo courtesy of KOSHISH)

3. Rohit Shrestha, Engineering overseer

7-RS75290_IMG20170424165148“I think it will look better with a tap”.

Rohit Shrestha, engineering overseer for MCC partner Shanti Nepal, poses near the earthquake-damaged water pipeline of Thulogaon village in northern Dhading. MCC is funding repairs to this water system, building a concrete tap to protect it and ensure clean drinking water for the community. (MCC photo/Avash Karki).

4. Dil Maya Gurung, Community healthcare worker and midwife

6-RS75287_IMG20170422131832Dil Maya Gurung sits with the baby scale in the tent that serves as the temporary community health clinic in Tazimrang village of Ree VDC, Dhading. She serves as an Auxiliary Nurse Midwife (ANM) in the village, providing primary health care services to pregnant women, mothers and children. The building that housed the clinic where she works was destroyed in the earthquake. MCC with partner Shanti Nepal is supporting the reconstruction of the clinic building (MCC photo/Avash Karki).

5. Buddhilaxmi Magar, Homeowner

1-RS69658_02-P1160631“I’m hoping to settle in our new home soon.”

Buddhilaxmi Magar (left) with her great granddaughters, Susmita (middle) and Bipana (right) sit in front of their earthquake damaged home in Dalchoki, Lalitpur, Nepal. Buddhilaxmi is a single mother who is now responsible for her two great-granddaughers, with limited financial support from one of her sons. Buddhilaxmi is eligible for the government home reconstruction grant of about $3,000 to use for rebuilding her home. MCC partner RICOD is providing her with additional construction materials and access to skilled labor to help her rebuild it to earthquake-resistant safety standards (MCC photo/Avash Karki).

6. Pujan Karki, Engineer and trainer in earthquake-resistant construction methods

5-RS72578_IMG20170313133038Pujan Karki (in orange jacket) facilitates a training for masons on earthquake-resistant building techniques so that masons in the hard-hit rural communities of southern Lalitpur district will have the skills to rebuild homes in a safer way than previously. MCC partner RICOD is organizing mason trainings and providing support to marginalized and vulnerable rural residents so that they can access the materials and skilled labour needed to rebuild their earthquake-damaged homes (MCC photo/Avash Karki).

7. Ratna Bahadur Gongba, Mason and training participant

4-RS72554_IMG20170308104242“The more I involve myself and practice masonry activities, the more I learn”.

Ratna Bahadur Gongba has been working as mason for several years but he didn’t know about how to build homes in an earthquake-resistant way. At a practical, hands-on mason training organized by MCC partner RICOD in southern Lalitpur, he has learned new skills like how to mix cement for maximum strength (MCC photo/Avash Karki).

8. Kushal Bhatta, Project coordinator and engineer

2-RS72124_P1150971Kushal Bhatta points at the hill where a drinking water system that served 50 households in Khijifalate, Okhaldhunga was destroyed in the earthquakes. With funding from MCC, Kushal and his colleagues at MCC partner SAHAS are rebuilding the system so that the village residents have access to clean water again (MCC photo/Luke Reesor-Keller).

 

 

Radical Generosity in Ramwapur: From fire victims to earthquake donors

By Leah Reesor-Keller

June 15, 2012 was a dark day for the settlement of Ramwapur, Banke District. A fire, fanned by high winds, spread rapidly through the small village of thatched houses, destroying homes, food grains, livestock, and even taking a life. Most residents here are agricultural laborers, or rickshaw drivers. The fire devastated their assets and possessions, gutting 47 houses. The survivors were left with only the clothes on their backs.

With coordination from the community-based network organization Janajagaran Samaj, people from other nearby settlements and villages immediately responded by giving clothes and food to aid the fire-affected community. MCC, through its partners Janajagarun Samaj and Sansthagat Bikas Sanjal, provided housing materials including bricks and cement, so that residents could build fire-resistant homes to replace the ones that burnt down. MCC also provided new school uniforms and textbooks to children in the community so that they could continue their studies with minimal disruption. All community members worked together, taking turns to build each other’s houses.

I visited Ramwapur again in December 2016. The houses look like homes again, with flowers, fruit trees and vegetable gardens growing between the houses. Yet memories of the tragic fire are still strong. Ramwapur residents remember what it is like to lose everything in an instant, and they know what a difference it makes to receive aid in a time of need.

When central and eastern Nepal were hit with a devastating earthquake in April 2015, this community was quick to respond. All households gave whatever they could, whether two kilos of rice, or some oil. Janajagarun Samaj facilitated collection through its network of community organizations, including from Ramwapur. In total, residents of Ramwapur and seven other villages in the area sent nearly two metric tons of rice and foodstuffs to earthquake survivors in the immediate aftermath of the quake.

It’s inspiring to see how residents of Ramwapur have transformed from being homeless fire victims to to generous donors that give to others in need. Radical generosity in action!

 

 

 

Learning & Serving with IVEP: Deepa’s story

By Deepa Singh, IVEP Alumni 2013-2014

Women's Bean Project
Participants, staff and volunteers at the Women’s Bean Project. Deepa is wearing green in the middle of the group. Photo courtesy of Deepa Singh.

I was doing my undergrad when I got the information about IVEP program through MCC staff. I was out of Kathmandu valley in the field of Nuwakot district (North to Kathmandu) doing a community health project as a part of my practical study. I had no idea what MCC meant at that time. I was given a website of MCC. I checked out the site and learnt about the works and service of MCC in Nepal. But still was not very clear about the IVEP, YAMEN program. I kept on studying the MCC websites to get the purpose of IVEP/YAMEN program.

I wrote the essay and filled out the application. But still not fully sure what I will be doing, what will happen, where I will go. Little bit of uncertainty in my head on what will happen. Anyway, I sent the application. I went through a couple interviews and got selected to do  volunteer work at Women’s Bean Project in Denver, Colorado.

I had orientation at Akron, Pennsylvania, which was a different experience for me to meet friends from different countries who had come just like me to serve for a year in US. At the same time I met other friends who were ready to go to other countries to serve. We exchanged our countries’ experience and how it is like to live in our country with our friends so that it would be easy for them to start their volunteer placements. The orientation sessions helped me a lot to understand what’s going to happen next. After the orientation, all the IVEP went to their placement site. I went to Denver. I lived with other young adults who were AmeriCorps volunteers living in in a community house, which was a different and fruitful experience for me. And, my placement site was close the place where I lived.  I liked that my placement site and my house was close.

The place where I worked was my unique experience because I had never worked with women who were very different than I usually know the women. Let me tell you something about my placement organization. It’s Women’s Bean Project, a social enterprise that employs chronically unemployed and impoverished women through transitional employment and helps them earn the job readiness, interpersonal and life skills to create a new future-for themselves, their families and their community.

https://www.womensbeanproject.com/

The good part of my serving time there was getting to know their life experiences and the reasons they had come to the place to start a new life was inspiring and motivational to me as a woman. I got the opportunity to share their stories and Women’s Bean Project at different fund raising programs and other events. The fun part of my time there was living with other friends who were also of my age and getting to know their culture. Hearing their college stories reminded me of my own.

It has been slightly over 2 years for me in my home country after coming back from IVEP, US. I don’t think I can express in words how blessed and how reflective those experiences where for me in my personal, spiritual and professional life. Coming back to my country and sharing those experiences to my friends, families, MCC Nepal is enriching to me.  At some times during my IVEP service I felt what I was doing was not significant but later/ by the end of the year, putting those things in perspective and looking the same things in the long run has been fully blessings to me. It was a great year to serve and learn together and draw my life closer to my goal.

Thank you MCC Nepal!!!

 

Now recruiting for young adult international volunteer program

RS62191_from left to right Ana, Lebo, Snelly, Long, Zipo perform share some dance moves-scr

MCC Nepal is looking for Nepali unmarried Christian youth (18-30 yrs) who are passionate about peace and community service to serve in 11-month volunteer internships from August 2017 to July 2018. Volunteers live in a new culture while serving in places like schools, farms, NGOs and day cares. Placements are in countries where MCC works around the world, including Asia, Africa, Latin America and North America. More information on these programs can be found at http://yamen.mcc.org/ and http://ivep.mcc.org/

The first step to apply for this program is to write an essay responding to the following questions, and submit it to MCC along with a recent CV:

How have you served or volunteered with your local community and church?

What is your personal vision for peacebuilding and community service in Nepal?

What are your thoughts on how the church can be more effective in serving the community?

Essays will be judged based on content, readability, originality, Biblical references, fluency of English language, and adherence to the below stated essay requirements.

Word count:  1,000 minimum to 1,500 maximum

File format: PDF

Submit essay and CV to: nepalinfo@mcc.org

Deadline to apply: October 07, 2016

The writers of the best essays will be invited for an interview at MCC’s office in Ekantakuna, Lalitpur.

 

Applicant Requirements:

  • Between the ages of 18 and 30
  • Committed Christians who are active church members
  • Unmarried
  • Completion of a Plus two or intermediate degree in any field and enrolled for Bachelor degree study
  • Excellent English skills

 

 

Applications by women, members of marginalized ethnic/caste groups and residents of rural/remote areas are particularly encouraged.

Vacancy for Earthquake Program Support Officer

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Job Title: Earthquake Program Support Officer

Location: MCC Office in Lalitpur, 50% travel to working areas

About MCC Nepal: MCC Nepal’s vision is that its partners will have the passion and capacity to work together with poor and marginalized communities to address their basic human needs and work for peace and justice. Currently, MCC Nepal partners with 8 NGOs in 12 districts across the country in the thematic sectors of food security, education, health, disaster relief and community institution building. MCC Nepal values open and transparent partnerships, living simply and caring for the environment, ending discrimination, and working for social and economic justice.

MCC is an equal opportunity employer, committed to employment equity. MCC values diversity and invites all qualified candidates to apply.

 Position Summary: The PSO will work closely with the Earthquake Response Advisor, MCC Program Coordinators, and the Country Representatives to support MCC Nepal’s partner organizations with documentation, monitoring and evaluation for earthquake response projects. The PSO is supervised by the Program & Government Relations Coordinator.

Qualifications:

  1. Commitment to MCC Nepal’s values
  2. 2+ years of experience in related work (community development, health, livelihoods, disaster response)
  3. Experience working in rural areas of Nepal
  4. Experience with community engagement and participatory monitoring & evaluation
  5. Bachelor’s degree in Community Development, Sociology or related field or comparable experience
  6. Nepali national/Eligible to work in Nepal

Required Skills, Knowledge and Competencies

  1. Demonstrated ability to build relationships with a wide variety of people from diverse socio-economic, cultural, and religious backgrounds
  2. Team player, able to work collaboratively with colleagues at MCC and partner organizations
  3. Strong written and oral communication skills in English and Nepali
  4. Strong computer skills and experience with database entry
  5. Demonstrated competence in qualitative and quantitative research methods and participatory methods
  6. Self-motivated, able to work alone to deadlines, knows when to seek help
  7. Willingness and ability to frequently travel to remote districts and walk to hilly remote areas

Duties:

  • Assist with timely implementation of the earthquake recovery program activities in the districts through partner organizations.
  • Regular follow up and monitoring visits to partner organizations and working areas (50% travel)
  • Coaching and capacity building support to partners in planning, monitoring and evaluation.
  • Work closely with partner organizations to ensure high quality and timely program and financial reporting.
  • Learn MCC’s project database software and ensure timely updates of indicator and output data
  • Assist with hosting MCC-related visitors to the earthquake recovery projects
  • Stay up-to-date on government policies and procedures related to earthquake recovery and reconstruction, and share knowledge with partners
  • Participate in professional development trainings, workshops and visits organized by MCC.
  • Take on other responsibilities as may be required by supervisor or Country Representative.

Qualified candidates should apply with resume and cover letter to nepalinfo@mcc.org by July 20, 2016.  Only those shortlisted for a written test and interview will be contacted.

 

One Year Later: Remembering April 25, 2015

It has been a tragic and difficult year for many in Nepal. Today we mourn the lives lost and homes destroyed in the April 25th, 2015  7.8 magnitude earthquake and the hundreds of aftershocks that followed. It’s also a time to give thanks for the outpouring of donations given in love by people around the world, and the tremendous work of staff and volunteers at MCC and partner organizations who brought aid to over 5,500 families in need. Here are some glimpses of this work from the past year.