Finally, we can offer the followers of our journey a short update on our activities in Ratankot. As there is so much to be done out here, the nine days since our last report flew by as if they were only nine seconds… and the lack of a regular electricity network, and a stable internet provision also did not help. To compensate for the long delay, as a treat, we attached some authentic Ratankot photos (which were taken in the last few days) to this report.
With the help of Pema Dorjee, we had a very fruitful meeting with the village committee in the morning of July 7th. That same day in the evening, we had a meeting at which the entire village was invited in the community hall. As it was raining quite intensely + as word-of-mouth did not spread that fast since our arrival the day before + as this is the busiest week within the year for the farmers working on the rice fields, attendance was unfortunately low. To solve this issue, we organize a new big meeting on July 19th which was thoroughly promoted by the research team. On the bright side, our first meeting yielded us two excellent assistants, Namgil and Tara, whose help since then has been invaluable. Together with the two interpreters joining us from Kathmandu, Avik and Sushil, their practical help in cooking, translating, guiding, … has made our task a lot easier!
Since July 7th, the research team (Brecht, Lien, Sofie, Pierre, Kristof & Mark) has primarily been focusing on its most important task: documenting the needs of the local population with the help of a thorough questionnaire. They have visited numerous houses (+- 100) throughout the whole village (from the riverside up to high in the mountains) to get a complete picture of the social situation. Throughout these talks, we have been overwhelmed by the warm hospitality of the Ratankot villagers. It is great to feel so welcomed by them, and to experience the positive feelings they have towards our project. We were offered an abundant amount of tea cups when visiting people, and once were even invited to attend a traditional burial ceremony.
Next, the education team (Brecht, Lien, Sofie, Pierre, Kristof & Mark) organized an introductory meeting with the school teachers on July 9th. We had a lot of questions and ideas for improvement for them. In order to get to know the school very well we organized a second and third meeting on July 18th and 20th. This should assure the proper implementation of the ideas we have. In addition, Lien, Sofie and Mark visited a well-functioning school nearby (in Timouri) to get an idea of the way things are organized over there. We have also planned a meeting with an NGO (suggested by Unicef and focusing on the optimization of the school environment in Nepalese schools) upon our return in Kathmandu. Our aim is that these efforts will finally result in a structural improvement of the Ratankot school, both in the educational quality and in the life quality at school.
Further, the water team (Charlotte, Jelke and Mélodie) has spent numerous hours up in the mountains to trace usable sources with the gps. During three days, they were fortunate to receive the help of a delegation of the Nepalese Red Cross, all experts in water management in rural Nepalese areas. The final aim is to have a tap installed at each individual house, while explicitly incentivizing the inhabitants to build a toilet of their own, a wish which is at this point in time still far from reality. At first glance, the number of sources (and the amount of water produced) seems sufficient to supply the entire village. Preliminary test results on the water quality unfortunately do not seem to be too promising, so a lot of work seems to lie ahead of us.
On July 16th, Herman and Joris arrived in Ratankot for a short visit. As the 16th was also Herman’s birthday, Karma had provided a very inventive birthday cake (baked without an oven!) and sweets for the whole group! Also, during their stay, Herman was able to use his medical experience to help out some of the villagers.
Our last few days in Ratankot are approaching: tomorrow morning we have the important meeting with the villagers, on the 20th we have another meeting with the school teachers and the children focusing on waste management, and on the 21st we leave back to Kathmandu. I can assure you all we won’t miss the mosquitos and leaches currently giving us a hard time. In contrast, the peacefulness and authenticity of this remarkable village and the welcoming nature of its inhabitants will receive a place in our hearts for a long time. So far, it has been great to see our ideas put into practice, and corrected where necessary. It has been heart-warming to see the positive vibes from the local inhabitants, which should guarantee the stable growth of the seeds we are planting. There is a lot of work to be done, but even more willingness to do a good job!
The Support4Nepal team