Friday, October 21, 2011

Nepal post #3 - Rolling up our sleeves

As you know Anna Walsh and I are working in Nepal for a couple of weeks. Yesterday we met the staff in the Kathmandu office of the Rural Community Development Service Council (RCDSC).

The purpose of the day was a briefing to help us better understand the work of the RCDSD and the complexities of the social society in Nepal. Sounds pretty typical.

But it was anything from it for Anna and me.

This visit was probably the best charity visit ever in the HISTORY of visits!

When we arrived all the staff came out to greet us. They had the biggest smiles and Anna and I finished the greeting with our arms full of flowers. I think it fair to say that we both felt a little overwhelmed and once again humbled.

We were guided to a meeting room with no table and only one chair. The chair was for me. I thanked them for their thoughtfulness and accepted a cushion on the floor.

Once we were all seated everyone took turns standing up and introducing themselves. It was clear that they had rehearsed their introductions and we were very touched.

We then rolled up our sleeves and got to work. The playing field was level. We were all fundraisers working for ways to make life better for the marginalized people of Nepal.

Also proud to say we only used the chair keep our flowers safe and in view. In time I will upload a video of a portion of this meeting but given the random internet access I think it best to share some photos with you for today.

Tomorrow we will be heading out into the field and I will post again when a reliable internet connection can be found.
I am currently blogging from a lobby computer in Nepal and uploading more pics seems to be challenging. But I could do it on facebook so have a look at the album here
You can read posts #1 and #2 about working in Nepal here and here.
Thank you for joining us on this adventure.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Nepal post #2 - Flooding in Mahottari

In early October I received the letter below from Ram Kapar. You will remember I talked about meeting him and my working vacation in Nepal that starts tomorrow in my post here.

If you don't have time to read the entire letter just skim it down to see more images of the floods at the bottom.

Dear Kimberley,

Rural Community development Service Council (RCDSC) is a Non-profit organization in Nepal.RCDSC has been working in the Terai Region of Nepal for
more than a decade now and has been continuously supporting the needy
people as and when necessary especially, in natural calamities. At
present, due to continuous rain for three days, there is flood in our
working area and the houses of people are drowned. People’s personal
belongings like clothes, cooking pots etc are seen floating. The
government is trying its best to support the needy community but the
resources are not reaching out to the real helpless community. Around
45,000 poor people have lost their houses (made up of clay and bricks),
lost their belongings and more than 15 children are missing. People are
running out their homes seeking shelter in flood-free area but since the
flood is everywhere in the region there is no way out. The livelihood of
the community is at risk due to unavailability of food, drinking water,
road access and almost everything. Road way has been completely blocked,
electricity is cut-off and food stored at house is swept away or is
overflowed by water.

The condition is more pathetic in Mahottari and Dhanusha district as the
embankment of river has been damaged and the water is flowing into
Jaleswar Municipality. It is obvious that the community of the region is
sure to bear water borne diseases and epidemics. First aid kids and packed
foods are the immediate need to reduce humanitarian casualties and
suffering from reaching out to panic.

Therefore, RCDSC likes to request you to forward this message to as many
support organizations as possible such that RCDSC will work this year too
like previous years for reducing fatalities and from spreading of diseases
and rehabilitation of poor people's residence after the flood is

I have attached photograph of the area where our social workers could
reach out capturing the flood of the area for your kind information and
comprehend the situation live.

Thanking for kind and generous support from you in this regards

Ram Adhar Kapar

Thank you for spending time here,

From the fundraising trenches of Canada to the fundraising trenches of Nepal

At the moment I am nursing a hangover. Not the mind numbing hangover induced by over consumption, but a physical one that can only be earned from 20 hours of traveling to the other side of the world.

As I write this, I am sitting in a tightly manicured garden (above) in New Delhi, India where the air is hanging thick with heat and moisture. There is a symphony of birds in the trees above and car horns are honking incessantly in the distance. Here I am once again, with the familiar humble feeling that I have much more to learn from this wonderful land and the magnificent people here than I could possibly teach.

I wish I could start this story by saying I have an extensive background in International Development and a deep understanding of the complex issues faced by charities in South East Asia and specifically Nepal. Surely a degree in something could be useful at this juncture. Sitting here with my swollen feet and my sandy eyes, I’ve come to realize that the only possible way to begin this story is to start by telling you about how I first met Ram Adhar Kapar.

Ram is the Chairperson for the Rural Community Development Service Council (RCDSC) based in Kathmandu, Nepal. The RCDSC is a civil society organization dedicated to the rights of excluded groups and communities in the Terai region.
The RCDSC also has a national scope and is very much a leader of social change in the country.

I first met Ram while doing research for a trip to Jaipur, India in 2008. I was going there to speak about SOFII at the South Asian Fundraising Group Workshop. Ram and I quickly decided to meet in Jaipur and discuss some strategic organizational and funding issues for the RCDSC.

When I first sat down in person with Ram and he told me about the marginalized Dalit people and the way the RCSDC works to help them lead a sustainable life, with dignity and respect in the society I was deeply moved. Ram’s passion is intense – in fact it was contagious. I was also impressed with how very smart, patient and committed he is to strengthening the capacity of his organization and reducing their reliance on international aid. You can read more about the current situation in the Mahottari and Dhanusha districts here.

It must also also be said that Ram is the most determined man I have ever met. In spite of over two years of my protests and reminding him that, at the moment, I am not a full time consultant, Ram has convinced me to spend my holiday in Nepal visiting the people he works with and learning more about his country.

So, this year instead of going to the International Fundraising Conference, I’ll be learning about international fundraising in the trenches of Kathmandu. And for better or worse, instead of an academic degree, I’ll bring forward a deep curiosity about the issues and the local people. I also hope to share my experience of fundraising in the trenches of Canada in a way that will be meaningful and helpful for fundraising in the trenches of Nepal.

Together, and with my travel companion and colleague Anna Walsh we will work on how to tell the story of the Nepalese Dalit people and the work of RCDSC in a way that compels people around the world to become engaged and make donations to help.

Please check back often to read our stories so that together we will learn more about the joys and challenges of fundraising in one of the poorest countries in the world.

Thank you for joining me for this adventure.

PS In fact tomorrow in Kathmandu will be the first time Anna and I meet beyond twitter. How we came to be traveling together will be a blog post in and of itself.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The evolution of a blog - one fundraiser's experience

When I started blogging I read a book to learn how to start. A real, hardcopy book. "Blogging for dummies" or something. Then a colleague told me to post three times a week. Advice I took seriously. If you go to the very first few months of this blog you will see a lot of mediocre posts. I'll leave them there for your entertainment.

About one year later a mentor told me to stop posting rubbish. To go for quality not quantity. It was a painful lesson. I was very proud of my blog. But he was right. So posts became less frequent and longer.

There are a few posts that people seemed to like more than others and perhaps it is worth reminding you of them:

My first post in 2008



Working with a Board of Directors

Working with consultants


Getting unstuck

Being "Donor Centred"

A blog is a place to share ideas and thoughts when you feel you have something that is worth sharing. It evolves over time as you do. For me this blog also serves to chronicle my growth - personally and professionally.

Over the next few weeks I'll be starting a new adventure. I'll be using my vacation time to travel to Nepal where I will learn about the challenges and joys of international fundraising ...from the trenches. This blog will be my place to share stories of the experience with you. So please stay tuned. Our adventure is about to begin.

Thank you for spending time here,