– by Emily Bild, GoPhil Regional Manager India & Nepal
Earlier this month, Peter Banwell (GoPhil partner, donor and newest board member) and I embarked on an incredible 5 day trip to Nepal with multiple objectives at hand. GoPhil wanted to complete the vetting of potential new partner PHASE Nepal, a very inspiring grassroots NGO working on community health in some of the country’s most remote areas.
We also needed to gather feedback and suggestions on a new idea we had developed on launching a new innovative seed grant funding program to promote collaboration amongst anti-trafficking NGOs. Lastly, it was time to check-in on GoPhil’s partner programs in the region to catch up on their progress.
As with most of our foundation work trips, the journey would be anything but dull. The next few days would entail meeting 14 different organizations in 5 days, including a 15-hour site visit to see PHASE’s work in Sindhupalchok district on roads that were barely impassable.
Whatever It Takes To Get There
Last year we began the vetting process for PHASE, a NGO devoted to providing healthcare in rural Nepal. Our next step before formal partnership and funding was to see the work in person and to speak more in depth with the staff on the ground providing these critical services. We had been warned that the journey to Hagam village was going to be hard going to reach – and this was no exaggeration! With the monsoon rains and recent landslides, we were very lucky to make it to and from the village in one long day (and in fact had packed our sleeping bags and plenty of bottles of water just in case!). It was well worth the long and bumpy journey though, as having the opportunity to learn more about life in the village, which was almost completely destroyed by the 2015 earthquake.
We would later see first-hand the incredible impact that PHASE’s work has on remote communities, who would otherwise lack any kind of health care, was very moving and inspiring for us both. We were very fortunate to spend the day with one of their community health workers – an incredibly dedicated and passionate young woman who is providing health care to a community of 4,000 with only the most basic of facilities. Alone, she has managed to carry out numerous complicated deliveries, mostly in the women’s homes, and saved the lives of countless mothers and new babies.
We talked at length with the PHASE team about their approach and most importantly, their exit strategy, as it’s obviously not sustainable to have an NGO provide health services in communities for an endless period of time. PHASE’s ultimate aim is to hand all their health centers over to the government so that they become official government health posts. They work closely with the government over several years to ensure that this is done carefully and in a way that the community will still continue to receive the same quality of service that they have come to expect.
We were enormously impressed with PHASE’s work – the site we visited was their most accessible, many communities are several days walk from the nearest road in the Far West of the country. GoPhil is now hoping to establish a new partnership with them so we can help support their essential work.
Gathering feedback on our new seed grants idea
Over the course of our many visits to Nepal, the GoPhil team has identified a large number of very strong NGOs working to tackle the problem of trafficking in the country (both in-country trafficking and cross-border trafficking). Trafficking, especially of women and children, is a major issue in Nepal and despite all the efforts of the government, UN agencies and NGOs, it is a problem that is growing rather than shrinking. Our recent trips had raised concerns over a lack of collaboration and coordination between the different organizations, undermining the effectiveness of the fight against trafficking and leading to what seems to be numerous duplications of efforts. Through extensive research, Skype calls with NGOs in Nepal and conversations with other funders around the world, we had developed the idea of a seeds grant fund that would make small grants available for pilot projects that promoted better collaboration between anti-trafficking NGOs.
Before we finalised the idea, it was important for us to discuss it with the various NGOs and networks working on this issue day in and day out in Nepal, to get their feedback on the proposal. We were thrilled to receive a hugely enthusiastic and positive response from every organisation we spoke to on this! People seemed very receptive to the proposal and started to come up with ideas for projects during our meetings with them. Our discussions on this convinced us we were on the right track and motivated us to move forward with the idea right away.
Since returning from Nepal, we have developed a Call for Proposals and Application Form for our seeds grant fund, which was officially launched on September 24th! This is a very different approach to GoPhil’s usual model of developing longer term partnerships, but we are excited to see what pilot projects are proposed to us and measure the impact that these smaller grants can make (alongside our longer term partners that we will continue supporting in Nepal of course). We look forward to keeping you updated as we progress on this new and exciting journey in Nepal!
Checking In on Our Existing Partners
At SASANE (a women survivors’ of trafficking NGO) we were updated on their latest developments by their President Shyam and got to see 2 of their inspiring paralegals in action at a police station in Kathmandu. SASANE trains trafficking survivors to support women filing complaints about trafficking, violence, sexual harassment and other issues affecting them.
We also met with the full team at the incredibly courageous Child Rescue Nepal, to hear all about their latest rescue of 7 young boys from a metalwork factory. These children are now safely staying in CRN’s transit home, receiving health care, psycho-social support and education whilst CRN’s staff works to trace their families and try to reintegrate them back home.
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Peter also enjoyed his third visit to the TOIT school, run by the formidable Indra Prasad, which is providing high quality education to over 400 children from the most disadvantaged families. Peter had an opportunity to catch up on developments in the school and how the latest building projects are progressing.
To learn more about the Seed Grant Fund and our current Call for Proposals, please visit: https://gophilanthropic.org/apply-for-a-grant-criteria/seed-grants-collaboration-anti-trafficking/