By Raidha Rafeeq
Oct 31, 2018

I first came to Nepal in September of last year to visit my mother who had been working in Kathmandu. I had originally intended on only staying for a month but ended up spending four months travelling and exploring the diverse landscapes of this captivating country. When I returned home to the Maldives I had decided that I would have to come back again and so I returned a year later but this time with the desire not just to travel but also to learn about and make a positive contribution to Nepali society. After a few weeks of searching, I chanced upon CREASION and immediately took notice of the wide range of projects that they run across Nepal in areas such as women’s empowerment, post-earthquake rehabilitation, youth empowerment, and environment. After weeks of unanswered emails to different organisations, I decided that the best course of action this time would be to go and talk to them in person. Upon coming into the office unannounced, I was immediately greeted by friendly and engaging staff who were keen to talk to me about the organisation and their projects. I expressed my interest in helping out and unbeknownst to me, they had sent out a call for volunteers just the day before!

I was set the main task of compiling a grant proposal for the Women for Change – Women for Sustainable Development project. Through my background reading, I learned so much about rural life in Nepal, particularly for women. The project aimed to provide women living in rural areas with income-generating work as despite the fact that they took on a greater workload than their male counterparts with their domestic work, their efforts remain largely unrewarded and the majority of these women were financially dependent on their husbands. I was particularly shocked at some of the statistics I read with 64% of women in Nepal have experienced gender-based violence and 77% of them have never reported it. Another aim of the project was to provide women with access to legal knowledge and resources in order for them to have the capacity to fight for their rights. This is a pressing issue in today’s social and political climate as true progress cannot occur as long as women and girls, essentially half of the population, continue to be marginalised.

I was also given the opportunity to attend workshops and discussion sessions on topics such as mental health awareness and sexual assault. These sessions involved a panel of experts and professionals and an audience that comprised mainly of young people. I was pleasantly surprised by the youth turnout at these events and at how engaged they were throughout the discussions. There is a considerable amount of untapped potential within the youth and they possess the ability to make waves in society in terms of social and economic development. Therefore it is imperative to continue having similar conversations in order to nurture an atmosphere of awareness and open-mindedness.

Though my time at CREASION as a fulltime intern is coming to an end, I will continue to help out by assisting at different events and by promoting the international volunteer program. I thoroughly enjoyed my time here not only because of the work that I was doing but also because of the warm and welcoming environment that I was allowed to work in. I learned so much throughout my time at CREASION and hope to continue my travels in Nepal with a new understanding and broader perspective of life here.

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