Special guest blog by Dr. Nikhil Joshi, currently on the ground in Nepal for Team Broken Earth.
I’m in a car on the way to the Prime Ministers’ Residence.
I look out the window and consider everything that has happened so far. What started as a scouting mission for long term opportunities to help has become so much more. Many people are excited for the possibility of a collaborative project with Team Broken Earth. I think back to the key people that have taken me this far and have shown me so much of this impressive country. They’re the reason I’m on the way to meet with Prateek Pradhan, the Prime Minister’s chief press advisor.
This Harvard educated man speaks perfect English and we chat about the similarities between Boston and Newfoundland. We talk about St. Paddy’s Day and he lets me know that there is Guinness in Nepal and tells me where I can find some. In the course of our conversation, we have a candid discussion about the need for medical help. There is still a need for medical relief work in the country, he tells me, but it needs to able to reach the remote villages. We also talk about INGOs, aid and charity; topics which I’ve found to be challenging as I seek to reconcile good intentions with actual results. I’ve seen many well intentioned people and NGOs fail in Nepal and if Team Broken Earth is coming here for a long term project, failure is not something I am willing to accept.
I ask him what, in his opinion, is key to an NGO succeeding in Nepal? He tells me that the most important principles from the governments’ point of view are:
- Local Support
- Low administrative cost
- Concentration and focus of aid
This all seems like common sense, but you may be surprised to learn that Nepal has over 40 000 NGOs and INGOs together. Many have been in the country since the 50’s and 60’s. If you are wondering how the country has so many NGOs and yet it seems like nothing is moving forward, then please know you’re not the only one pondering that. But I can’t solve the complex interrelationships, I am only concerned about whether Team Broken Earth can help and do so safely in country.
In many ways Nepal could be a growth point for our organization. Physical safety is all but assured from the people and the government; even at night, I feel pretty safe here. When we took a helicopter to a small village in the Sindu Palchuk district, I was amazed at how grateful people were for our mere presence. Even though they didn’t have enough food to eat they offered us lunch. The village was devastated by the earthquake, and it was clear that some villagers needed urgent medical attention, and probably had needed that attention at least a week ago.
After the interview with Mr. Pradhan is over, he thanks me for coming to this country and says that he wishes our organization the best of luck in establishing ourselves in Nepal. “The people of this country are grateful that the world cares for us” he tells me genuinely.
And in the end- isn’t that all we can ask for?
-Dr. N Joshi