Saturday, June 28, 2008

A note about my job

An explanation of this sort feels in order. I didn't know much before I left; I now know some more.

I’m working for the International Rescue Committee, an organization that provides support to people affected by war. The organization works in 25 countries, including Nepal. Last month a reporter from the IRC’s communications department traveled to Nepal and wrote some good stories on what the IRC is doing in the country. You can read them here.

I work in IRC -Nepal’s main office in the capital Kathmandu. My title is “Grants and Information Fellow” meaning my job consists of writing, writing and writing.

My first project is to write a grant for a Community Driven Reconstruction project in a region of Nepal called Bardiya. It’s in the Midwest, near the border with India. The 10-year civil war between Nepal’s government and Maoist rebels impacted this district more than most – although the war is over, many in Bardiya are still displaced from their homes and infrastructure remains in rubbles. Bardiya’s average life expectancy is 40; in Kathmandu it’s around 70.

The upside of all this writing is that I get to travel, too. In order to design grant proposals I need to meet the people they will affect. Tomorrow I will travel to Bardiya, an hour plane flight from Kathmandu on Buddha Air. (The Gods are with me!)

I’ll be there for five days. The first two days I will go with Virendra, the head of IRC’s field office in the area, to visit some of Bardiya's remote villages. To get to them we will:

  • drive for two and a half hours
  • take a ferry boat (monsoon season cuts these communities off for three months of the year)
  • then walk for a bunch of hours.

I’m excited to get to know Virendra (he’s from the region) and to see some of the countryside that I’ve been reading so much about. After that, I’ll spend three days in Nepalganj, a hub city near Bardiya, to meet with some official people from the UN about this project. I’m also to meet with two of our “partner organizations,” local NGOs who work in the area.

After this trip, I’ll supposedly know enough to write this grant proposal. I feel a little silly doing all of this, like a kid dressed up in grown-up clothes. The grant is for a lot of money and, if the IRC gets it, it will affect people I have never met. I’m not sure I feel qualified and that makes me nervous. But I’ll put on my mental high-heeled shoes and pink lipstick and try my best.

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