The goal for this morning was to see whether Ruchi could re-install Knowledgetree and load in the latest backup with just the manual to guide her. She was totally prepared and dove into the task with a grin. An hour later we were patting each other on the back. She had loaded the system onto my little netbook and restored it to the same state as the main system on the HP laptop. I have every confidence that she will be able to carry on without me.
I left to get caught up on my blogging and email and prepare for a de-briefing session at CMF with Nikunja Nepal of CECI, Tejhari Ghimire, the CEO of CMF, Ruchi and myself. We gathered in Tejhari’s office to discuss the project and its outcomes. The biggest concern will be the mindset shift for the CMF staff to actually use the system. This is typical of any new computer system and will probably take some time. But hopefully they will come to see the advantages (with urging from Ruchi) and it will become a part of their daily routines. The whole experience has been extremely satisfying for both Ruchi and myself. We have learned a lot and truly enjoyed working together.
I headed back to CECI and met up with Bernie. We wanted to re-visit the Fair Trade shops in Patan to pick up a few more items. From there we began an inner-city trek taking us from the southern part, north cross the Bagmati River along the Ram Shah Path (actually a fairly large and busy road) to the Narayanhiti Palace Museum and then west towards Thamel. The trees of the Palace Museum are loaded with hundreds of birds who serenade you as you walk along the Palace wall.
Bernie had not been to Thamel which is the tourist mecca of Kathmandu. It is chock full of tourists and vendors trying to separate them from their money. We eventually found the Rum Doodle restaurant, went up onto the rooftop and ate another great meal. The Rum Doodle restaurant is a famous starting point for many of the mountain expeditions and the walls are covered with footprints labelled with the signatures of the climbers. I understand Sir Edmund Hilary and a number of famous Sherpas are there.
Satisfaction came in many forms today – the professional satisfaction of a good project, the personal satisfaction of trekking this city and crossing those crazy streets without getting hit, and the overall satisfaction of getting the internet back and regaining contact with family.
A day of celebration and success. I headed off to CMF in one of my new kurtas with its matching scarf. I strutted down the road, stepping carefully over the squashed rat outside our gate, avoiding the puddles and keeping an eye out for taxis and motorcycles sweeping round the bend. At CMF Ruchi noticed my outfit, gave out the requisite compliments and we settled in for another productive day. She concentrated on gathering more documents and I worked on a DOS backup batch that she can run at the end of each day.
I haven’t written a batch in DOS for many years so it was tough. But with trial and error and much googling, I finally put something together that was consistently backing the data into nicely timestamped directories on the backup drive.
CECI had invited all the volunteers to a luncheon on the rooftop of CECI Place to celebrate the work of those of us who are leaving next week. Paul has been here for 9 months and Carly and Kyle for three while Bernie and I have only been here a week and a half. Not sure that we deserved the attention, but we got it anyway. Carly and Kyle entertained us with a pseudo rap session, Nepali style. Lunch was another great Nepali meal and afterward Bernie, Anne and I made our way down to Buzz Cafe for a cup of coffee. Buzz is an outdoor cafe/bar with a decidedly western lean – reminiscent of those beach bars you find in the Caribbean. It is certainly a popular spot although today in the early afternoon, we were the only patrons.
Fortified by caffeine, I headed back to CECI Place to continue working on my backup batch. I was struggling with trying to delete the oldest backup directory automatically. In unix it would be easy enough, but not so in DOS. Or at least, not for me. I finally decided to reach out across the continents and sent a plea to some of the gurus I know in Guelph. In no time at all I had an answer that worked like a charm. Life IS good! Is it good enough for me to risk wiping out the Knowledgetree system Ruchi and I have set up and seeing if I can restore from my backups?
Tonight Van showed up with an armload of pizzas and desserts and Carly, Kyle, Van, Bernie and I headed for the cool breeze on the roof to devour our goodies. The pizzas were delicious. My favourite was the pesto pizza. We checked out Kyle’s wonderful pictures as the sun set and the night moved in. He has a really good eye for composition and his shots of Pokara, the lake it borders and the surrounding Himalayas were breathtaking.
As the day ends I hear soothing music and the murmur of Kyle, Van and Carly’s voices in the other room.
Life is good.
Another chock-full day, but this time we stayed mainly in one place – the CECI/Uniterra headquarters where I am staying. Rajendra took us around and introduced us to the people who make up the administration of CECI and Uniterra in Nepal. Kathleen McLaughlin, the Asia Regional Director was away but most of the rest of the staff were around.
Hari Bastala spent quite some time filling Bernie and I in on the impressive and tenacious history of CECI in Nepal. The program in its various forms has been in effect for twenty years, starting out as a single project instigated by a lone Canadian working with farmers in the western region of Nepal. From there it grew into a series of projects instigated by various groups who partnered with CECI to provide volunteers to help them carry out the projects. Despite the emergence of the Maoist rebels in the countryside and the ensuing threat to volunteers, CECI was one of the few NGO’s who were able to continue their work. This was most likely because they had the support of the local people. The Maoist rebels could not afford to jeopardize their own support by threatening the work of CECI. Personally I believe that CECI has taken the correct approach when working with its partners – ie the projects are instigated by the partners and CECI then helps to plan and implement the various phases.
We headed out to Mike’s restaurant for lunch where we met up with Carly, Kyle and Anne Burnside. Anne is the Uniterra volunteer that has just finished a year and a half working with CMF – the organization where I will be working. Nikunja Nepal, Uniterra’s senior program officer, came along as well. Mike’s was the brainchild of a former Peace Corps and specializes in good Mexican food.
After lunch Nikunja spent some time describing the new phase that Uniterra has just entered. They have organized the projects in which they are involved into three main categories – Agriculture and Rural Development, Non-timber forest products and Dairy. Bernie’s project falls under the Non-timber forest products category and mine (micro-finance) falls under the Agriculture and Rural Development category. Nikunja spent some time describing some of the projects Uniterra has been involved in and how they fall into the three main categories. Then she delved into some of the background of the caste system and how it may affect our relationships in our work. There is a definite move towards breaking down the barriers of the caste system, but it will be years before it totally disappears, although Rajendra feels it will be sooner than we think.
Again, it was a very full day. Keeping this blog is staving off some of the overwhelming feelings of information overload. By writing down some of the topics we covered I am giving my thoughts some type of order. Hopefully I’ve got my facts straight.
I finally got some money converted so headed off to the supermarket to see what I could pick up. It reminded me of shopping at the department store in Nairobi – lots of goods packed tightly on narrow shelves. I want to make that rice and beans dish that my girls seem to like. Hopefully Kyle, Carly and Inka will like it as well.