"International Association For Community Development Tour"
By: Dr. Paul Lachapelle
The IACD Nepal Community Development Study Tour immediately followed the India Practice Exchange on March 22, 2016. The tour commenced in Kathmandu with 6 participants. We began the 6-day tour on the Holi Festival, a raucous celebration known as the festival of colors, and was led by our tour guide Yogendra (Yogi) Kayastha who worked tirelessly to coordinate our entire trip. We began with a meeting with Dr. Govinda Pokharel, CEO of the government’s Earthquake Reconstruction Division who shared with us the progress and many challenges in the aftermath of the 7.8M earthquake that struck Nepal April 25, 2015 resulting in over 8,000 fatalities, 21,000 injuries and hundreds of thousands of people made homeless with entire villages flattened. We next toured the Buddhist temple Swayambhunath followed by a visit to Patan Durbur Square and discussed tourism and the effects the earthquake has had on tourist visitation and revenue. Our second day brought us to the ancient Newar city of Bhaktapur where we witnessed the devastating effects of the earthquake on the houses and temples. We next toured the Women’s Foundation, an inspiring organization run by Renu Sharma helping women and children in Nepal who are victims of violence, abuse and poverty. We were greeted by 100 orphaned children who welcomed us with song and dance – a poignant reminder of the love and compassion that exists even in extreme destitution! We concluded the day with an evening at Boudhanath Temple where we witnessed hundreds of Buddhist devotees circumambulating the temple lit by thousands of butter lamps along the path. Our next day found us touring youth-related organizations with visits to 4-H Nepal and Environmental Camps for Conservation Awareness. We concluded the day with a stop at Daayitwa, a new organization working to build a movement of young leaders who are guided by shared values of collaborating, innovating, and serving in Nepal.
On our fourth day, we visited the Sewa Kendra Leprosy Clinic and Boudha Ashram Nursing Home and met with Dr. Hira Pradhan and her staff to learn about their community work and discuss their views on leadership styles. We also had a chance to visit Pashupatinath Temple before leaving for 2-nights at the Balthali Village Resort a 2 hour drive from Kathmandu. For our final days, we visited the Namo Buddha monastery and hiked through local orange orchards and discussed the challenges and qualities of rural Nepalese life. The IACD Nepal Community Development Study Tour provided an opportunity for IACD members to witness, experience, engage, and interact with colleagues in Nepal and foster mutual learning and understanding; it was truly an inspiring and motivating tour by making the world just a little smaller through new friendships and contacts.