Chris Oliver, Chief Finance Officer, from INCLUDED International based in Beijing, China visited the Nepal office as soon as he landed to Kathmandu on 7th March 2014. “This is my first time to Nepal,” said Oliver during the welcome meeting at the office. He was briefed about the evolution of INCLUDED’s work in Nepal and presented a Nepal timeline summary by Sneh Rajbhandari, Program Manager at INCLUDED Nepal.
During his stay, Oliver spent some time at the Manohara Community Center, the Kopila Preparatory School for Children with Brick kilns in Lubhu, Paurakhi Basti, Kankeshwori inner city core area, Banshighat and actively took part in a team building event with the members of the Mom’s club on 8th March.
After his arrival, on Saturday, Oliver set out on a hike from Nagarkot to Changunarayan with his much needed trekking poles. If he was tired, he showed no sign of it the next day where he was touring Bhaktapur Durbar Square, dancing with the members of the Mom’s club at Bhaktapur and answering questions from the children at the ASP.
“The human spirit is an amazing thing. It is incredible how people can bring out such good spirits in such terrible conditions. It is truly humbling,” said Oliver on Monday at the office, reminiscing his previous evening with the children at the After School Program. Later that day, Oliver and the team visited Kopila Preparatory School at Lubhu, which supports the children of migrant brick factory laborers. The facility is made up of prefabricated, modular material, making mobility easy in case such a situation arises.
Tuesday turned out to be a busy day with three site visits to Paurakhi Basti (the demolished squatter settlement on 8 May 2011), Kankeshwori site (the inner core city rented local houses) and Banshighat (a potential site for a second community centre). Back at the office, Oliver, Prakash Amatya, Country Director to INCLUDED Nepal, Sneh Rajbhandari and Smriti Thapa discussed fundraising strategies, the number game for Nepal beneficiaries and the required funding for the country.
Chris’s visit ended with a group dinner at the company of Samudayik Sarathi’s Chairperson Tara Bhandari, Dr. Suvekchya Karki (Dentist and Treasurer of PNDK), Er. Prajwol Hada (Architect), Er. Sujan (Civil Engineer), Bina Pradhan (Shine Cleaning Company) and of course the members of the INCLUDED team Kathmandu, Nepal.
On the last day of his flight back to the Head Office at Beijing i.e 12th March Wednesday, Oliver shared some valuable feedback. “Though I came here with the main priority of just listening and learning, reality surpassed what I planned to see. To get to see the programs first hand was fantastic and the wholesome challenges the people here face made me glad to know that we’re set up here. I know we can, and we are, going to make a change here because we want to work with the hardest challenges and overcome them.”
But this was only after he casually called our perfectly fresh packets of tomato ketchup, bags of blood and made lunch a little bit gruesome for a bit. Nevertheless, when he said that this week must have been the “best working week in the thirty years of [his] career”, it made up for the ketchup comment—though that will probably be office-lunch-table talk for a while, every time we do need some tomato ketchup.
He left for Dhaka today at 13:30 hrs to catch his return flight to Beijing tomorrow.
Report by Suhasha Malla with Sneh Rajbhandari.