DEAR YOUTHS,

Enjoy your youth. You will never be younger than you are in this very moment.
— Chad Sugg

Being a Youth in Nepal vs being a Youth in Norway is completely different. You face different kind of challenges-  though with some similarities. Living in Nepal and working with youths has made me reflect on how I was as a youth myself and things I wish I knew as a youth. I have therefore written down a few words in general to all the youths.  As a general rule, you should try to meet life, challenges and all the people you meet on your way with a smile and I can guarantee that you will grow up in a timely manner.

Dear youth, it is scary to get out of the comfort zone, but do it anyway. That is when the big changes happens in life. Are you unsure whether you can hold a presentation at school or bike 70km, do it! You will learn so much from it. Even the process to get out of the comfort zone will make you feel strange, but fantastic. And what's the worst thing that can happen? Train your mind to think that this is something you MUST do - no matter what. And remember, we have all been there. And what if it doesn’t work out the way you thought?  Life has a strange tendency to settle anyway. Remember that we all make mistakes, although one tends to forget sometimes. You know who you are and what you stand for. You can do absolutely anything if just your will is there. I will try to give you an example. When I studied at high school I used to hate language classes – but by pushing myself out of the comfort zone – I have now accomplished to live and learn languages in 4 different countries.
Dear youth, rules are for breaking. Or wait, it might just be a saying in Norway, but (hopefully) is not that much used in practice. Either way, your parents will set ground rules, but it will be for your own good. Believe me, you will thank them in the future. For example, if your parents set a curfew time and even if you are the one who has to go home early from girls or boys nights, that's fine. Your parents only have your best interest in heart and there is a reason why the rules are there. When I was a child my parents used to force me up in the morning, but it just made me realise it was just to train me up, so I can get out of my bed and face challenges later in life. 

Finally, remember that there will never be problems - just challenges along the way and there will always be a solution. It is your job to think smart and find the solution. Your life should be the first thing you prioritize when you get up every day. As for me I am very luckly to still hold on to my youth by working with the youths here in Nepal. If you have a eager to follow our journey with the youths, I encourge you to add  me and Camilla on Facebook :) 

Love from the youth who are now (unfortunately) on her way into adulthood, 

- Thanuya

Photos taken by: Thanuya Sivanantharajah

Photos taken by: Thanuya Sivanantharajah

Who will be the next Youth Team?

From the day we sat our foot in Nepal, Thanuya and I agreed that we want to make a difference. A difference in the sense that when returning back to Sunsari District, Nepal after a year or 10 years - the Red Cross Youth Circles and Youth humanitarian activities would still be working and doing great work. In relation to this, I would like to apply the "buzz-word" sustainability.

Aiming for sustainability means to work towards something with long-term effects. May that be a specific activity, attitude, behaviour, goal, relationship, structure, organization, project or a programme, which is long-lasting.

Uten navn.jpg

Y.E.S

Youth Empowerment Strategy (IFRC 2017) highlight the importance of building well-organized Red Cross Red Crescent Societies and local communities with sufficient capacities to carry out assessments and to address identified risks and challenges through meaningful actions in a sustainable manner. What does that mean? Firstly, building sufficient capacities can be done by training youths in their abilities, knowledge, and skills. Developing, training and building youths and others' capacities will ensure that a project will be running. Because one should always keep in mind that the ones who started the project may not always be around. And if no-one is trained to take over - it is a high risk that the project may fail. Secondly, with sufficient capacities youths and others will increase and strengthen their ability to address and identify risks and challenges. But, more importantly. The youth will be able to prevent, take action, and help with recovery activities in their community. Additionally they will also be able to train others in their community with sufficient capacities. 

Young people are key actors in building-up and sustaining strong National Societies and thus equal partners of adults. For example it is very important to include young people in the project and programme planning to make it sustainable - in order to have an effect and also knowing that the people are motivated to work towards a common goal. 

So, how can we make sure that our goal of sustainability will be achieved during our mission as Youth Delegates? We are about to create a Youth Team. The youth team will consist of different age, from different subchapters and youth circles, diverse knowledge and experience, education, equal division between boys and girls. Representativness is a essential keyword here. The youth team will work as a bridge between Red Cross District Chapter's staff and Red Cross youth volunteers. They will also be the contact persons for youth volunteers. We will try to make sure that the youth team attribute essential skills (coordinator, treasurer, facilitator, leadership) during their mandate in the team. When the youth team is develop, we look very much forward to share whom they are. So, stay tune! :-) 

We meet with the previous youth team to discuss establishment of a new youth team in Sunsari District. Photo taken by Camilla Rodø

We meet with the previous youth team to discuss establishment of a new youth team in Sunsari District. Photo taken by Camilla Rodø

In the last blogpost I wrote about "sharing is caring". To share and exchange information and experiences is a tool to make something sustainable. Especially if information and experiences one have gained are perceived as "lessons learned". This information and experience can then be used to reflect around questions like: What worked? What did not work? How could it be done differently?

Now - I encourage you to write down some ideas on how or what you can do in order to make your goals, projects, programmes, organizations, or group more sustainable. 

Thanks for sharing and following our blog! Leave a comment here or follow us on our Facebook profiles:  Camilla Ungdomsdelegat and Thanuya Ungdomsdelegat.

Cheers, Camilla

 

LETS GO TO A HOTEL!

…. said one of our colleagues after a meeting at the Red Cross. I felt surprised. Hotel? Now? At 3pm? That sounded very strange to my ears,  especially in those circumstances.  Although I have heard the expression in Asia before. So, what is actully a hotel in Nepal context? Well, when Nepalese say "hotel" - they simply mean a cafe. Or, more like a house where guests can get their coffee, a small nepali snack or sit down for a small talk. A positive surprise indeed, especially for me who is a coffee lover. The hotels/cafes in Nepal often look like this (source):

Something completely different from the cafes in Norway. However, it is not just in this situation where I have been surprised.  Even shopping for vegetables and food is completely different than in Norway. It can be a challenge in itself – or a fun game, as I like to call it. In Nepal, as many other Asian countries,  bargaing is expected. Everywhere you walk in this crowded city you are surrounded by swarms of people trying to sell you something. They offer everything from the “best knives made in Nepal”, jewellery and bananas.  Everything is about bargaining on the things you want to buy – and I really love it!

I love having fun with the people in the marked and try to get the price as low as I possibly can.  At most times they could say a price which is too high – and then they expect you to bargain. If you are seriously bargaing you could reduce the prize by 6 or 7 times the original starting price in a couple of minutes. For example, the first time we went to the marked together we paid 120 rupees for 6 apples (8kr) each– which we thought was a very good deal (compare to Norway). Though, when I went to the marked alone last week I got tomatoes, gingers, pumpkin, onions, chillies, celery’s and root vegetables all for 200 rupee (14kr).  200 RUPEES! You can barely buy a gum in Norway for that money, so I got really surprised-  and I must admit; the feeling was quite good when the bargaining went so well by speaking Nepali – and especially since they thought I was a local doing shopping in the marked.

So, we have figured out that, how you are perceived at the marked relates to prices you get on your groceries. For example, your local language, your clothes and not at least your appearance. If you look like a foreigner, the price will be thereby. Therefore, we have came to an agreement that I will be going to the market from now on to do the vegetables shopping, while Camilla will go to the mall where the prices already are fixed – a good division between us indeed.  

So, do you have a bargaining culture where you live? If yes, how is that and how do you deal with it? Leave a comment here or follow us on our Facebook profiles:  Camilla Ungdomsdelegat and Thanuya Ungdomsdelegat

All the best,

-  Thanuya

SHARING IS CARING

When borrowing a friend something that is mine (e.g. a computer, phone, pen or book) or giving away food or drinks - I often use the phrase sharing is caring. In this blogpost I would like to broaden the concept "sharing is caring" to include more than just physical materials. Because one can also share information, experiences, knowledge and skills.

On the 15th of October we invited youths and adults from different Youth Circles, Red Cross Subchapters and headmasters at schools from Sunsari District Chapter for a workshop. The aim of the workshop was to discuss how to make current youth Red Cross Youth Circles more active. During the workshop, something beautiful and inspiring happened. In order to come up with solution, we saw that both parts (youths and adults) was genuine interested in listening to eachothers knowledge and experience.

This leads me to the concept of youth empowerment seen from a Red Cross Red Crescent perspective. According to a paper conducted by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC 2017) an essential pillar of youth empowerment is power-sharing between adults and youths. Power-sharing is perceived as something unique. Namely, because it creates a direct interpersonal collaboration between youths and adults, focusing on the attributes of responsibilities and tasks. 

The Red Cross Red Crescent Youth Empowerment study done by IFRC emphasises that young people should be regarded as capable individuals who add value. Adults should actively involve them in decision-making processes and give youths the opportunity to express their opinion. On the workshop we arranged 15th of October, we felt that we saw an example of this. For example, we saw that the youths and adults shared knowledge and experiences about present strengths, weaknesses and future opportunities within the Red Cross Youth Circles. In other words, they shared and cared.

Although our workshop went beyond our expectations, it should not be taken for granted that cooperation between generations always goes this smoothly. As the Youth Empowerment study explains, the power-sharing between youths and adults depends on cultural and social differences. In every society, hierarchical norms lie at the heart of interpersonal and intergenerational relationships. But, adults will set good examples for the next generation despite the place and country - for example by acknowledging and respecting youths opinion and contribution, it can empower young people to undertake meaningful action on their own.

One need to keep in mind that when empowering the youths, one is also empowering the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement. Which again contribute with strengthening the objective of the IFRC: To prevent and alleviate human suffering, and thereby contributing to the maintenance and promotion of human dignity and peace in the world.

Do you have any experience from working in an intergenerational environment? Was it a good or bad cooperation? Please share your experience with us, either here in the comment box below, or write to us on our Facebook-profiles: Thanuya Ungdomsdelegat or Camilla Ungdomsdelegat. 

 

Cheers!

Camilla

DO WE HAVE A CASTE SYSTEM IN NORWAY?

In my first meetings with the people in Nepal,  I was surprised that they always presented themselves with their first and last name - even in informal settings. Especially since we barely do that in Norway.  However, Nepalis use your last surname and age to map you out as a person.  The older your are, the more respect you are given.  That is why they also use "Ji" or "Sir" when calling for a older person than yourself.  This is just an example on how the caste system in Nepal is practiced today - even when the caste system officially was banned in 1963.

Today, I can hardly imagine any system that systematically violates human beings than the caste system. A caste system is a hierarchical multicultural society in which every single ethnic group lives and carries out its birth-related profession. Examples of the upper caste "brahmin"  have professions as priests or teachers- while the lowest caste “shudras” or "dalits" are automatically classified as "the oppressed". The caste system was however originally developed as a strategy for developing the country.  Each single caste had to specialized in one type of work, so it was effective and the country could develop.

In one way, this makes me think of Norway and the industrialized revolution during 18-19th century. The distinction between the farmers, working-class, middle-class and upper-class in Norway can to some extent be compared to the "caste system" in Nepal. The farmers in Norway often had their own farm or shop and worked for themselves.  On the other hand, the working class included all people who didn’t own their own production and therefore had to sell their labour . They had a lower standard of living than other social classes. Were you born into a working-class family, you would most likely stay in that position your entire life. The middle class were a class in-between working-class and upper-class.  The last of the four categories, the upper-class, was referred as the "the class that has the leading position in a country's social and economic life with the political power that accompanies it." - just like in Nepal and their high-caste "brahmin".

Although these terms are not used that much in Norway these days - there has been other social differences during the last decades. For example social divisions between the “East” and “West” side in Oslo (capital in Norway).  On the eastern edge, wealth and income are still significantly lower than on the western edge. The special thing about Oslo is the stable division that for almost 150 years has been a geographical selection of class divisions in the city. As we say, Oslo is a divided city just like Nepal and the differences we can find between the capital Kathmandu and villages.  

So - can one expect that the caste system in Nepal to fade out soon? Personally, I think it will take some generations before we see a change. Particulary because the caste-system is something that is very incorporated in their culture and traditions. As same as it was in Norway a long time.  

Anyways, I have to go for a run now before it gets dark here (around 0530pm), so thanks for reading this - and feel free to leave a comment. Otherwise you can also contact us through our facebook work-profiles Thanuya Ungdomsdelegat or Camilla Ungdomsdelegat. 

Good evening/शुभ सन्ध्या,

- Thanuya

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To release the pressure - we need a holiday

Madonna sing the following in her song Holiday:  "If we took a holiday Took some time to celebrate Just one day out of life It would be, it would be so nice [...] It's time for the good times Forget about the bad times,  One day to come together To release the pressure We need a holiday"

Madonna sing the following in her song Holiday: 

"If we took a holiday
Took some time to celebrate
Just one day out of life
It would be, it would be so nice

[...] It's time for the good times
Forget about the bad times, 
One day to come together
To release the pressure
We need a holiday"

Thanuya and I worked for two weeks without any day off. Thus, we did not only take one day - but a whole week during the Nepali Dashain Festival . And seven days with holiday was definitely on its place. Now we are excited to share our experiences with you. So lets try to keep it simple with words – and let the photos speak for themselves.

On an average - people often relate Nepal to mountains and hiking. I am no exception.  Dharan is located in the Terai - which means that the landscape is more or less plain. Although plain, the city is situated by the tropical foothill of Mahabharat Range in the north. So after two weeks into our stay in Nepal - we were already enjoying the hills of our "hometown" Dharan. However, I need to emphasis that Nepal is not only about the nature - but also about the people. Nepalis may be some of the most inclusive and warm people I have met. For instance, on every hike we went on, we were always accompanied by locals (both from our office, but also people we have never met before) whom happily showed us around. This behaviour is something I find rare, and appreciate very much.

A well-known quote is "the key to a man's heart is through his stomach". Although not a man - enjoying a delicious meal by using all my senses lies very near to my heart as well. Throughout our first weeks we tried different types of Nepali dishes, tea, coffee, organic fruits and vegetables. 

As you may have understood, increasing our network and exchanging culture have been essential during our holiday. Although meeting a lot of warm and welcoming Nepalis - getting to know the locals haven't been so easy. Namely, because the majority either don't want to speak English or don't know how to communicate in English. But despite the language barriers I like to highlight that one can reach far by using smile, laugher and body language. As a result, this behaviour have resulted in many nice and joyful moments with the locals. In addition, it has also motivated me to learn more Nepali.

In the end I would like to share our appreciation that you read this blogpost, and we hope you will continue to follow our blog. If there is any questions, please feel free to contact us here, or on our Facebook profiles (Camilla Ungdomsdelegat and Thanuya Ungdomsdelegat. ). Last but not least, please let us know if there's anything specific your would like to read about in this blog. You can either write in English, Nepali or Norwegian.

All the best,

Camilla

 

 

IS IT ALWAYS AN ADVANTAGE TO KNOW THE LANGUAGE?

के अझ बढी भाषा बोल्न राम्रो छ?

The Red Cross Youth Delegate Exchange Programme (ydep.no) is all about moving to another different country and culture to work with the youths - and not at least learning and speaking another language than you are used to - whether it is norwegian, malagasy, french, spanish or in our case, nepali. Today several countries are multilingual due to the fact that the language has been characterized both by history and culture. This applies both in Norway and Nepal. After a long time of conflicts, Norway have two offical languages; Norwegian and Sami. While in Nepal there are 126 different ethnic groups and 123 different native languages. 

Being multilingual can be both beneficial, but also challenging at times. I can relate to this because I grew up with 5 different kind of languages through my childhood in Norway - and still switches between different languages during a day. For many years most language-researchers in Norway believed that multilingualism created difficulties for the child's academic development, but this myth has (luckily) disappeared gradually over time. Today, there is a perception that knowing more languages are beneficial for children's cognitive and linguistic development. But is it always an advantage to be multilingual?

The 7 Red Cross principles both in English and Nepali

The 7 Red Cross principles both in English and Nepali

Multilingualism has many beneficial effects, such as giving a broader understanding of different cultures and not at least making oneself understood in different parts of the world. Naturally, it is easier to get to know the locals if you speak their mother tongue - but, there is some things, like humour, which can be difficult to translate directly. As one of our nepali-colleugues said; "It is important to adapt the pronuciation to the context as well, eventhough the common language is the same". Though, here in Nepal, it’s pretty hard to keep track of the 123 different kind of native langugaes and pronunciations.  Nevertheless, there have already been some situations where I wish that I diden`t understood the language - like being backtalked or getting comments like "Ey, look at those foreigners, what do they think they are doing here" , "Hey white chick» or "She has to be from India". In addition, being multilingual and coming from more than one culture can also affect how they look and perceive you as a person.  But, at the end its all up to you how you choose to deal with it.

Therefore, it`s a good thing that we are two in this misson. Especially when we are working with different kind of youths - but also when we are trying to shop for food or getting to know the locals. That is always a good treat– both regarding to the language barriers, but also the fact that both me and Camilla has to try to be patient (not stressing like we Norwegians like to do). A good way of learning the language (and the culture) is though to spend time with the locals - preferably in our leisure time. This week for example we were invited to have a dinner with the local staff members of Nepal Red Cross - which actully happens to be the start of their festivaltime named Dashain. We had a lovely dinner with drinks, practiced nepali and got to know them even better - what a good way of starting our festival/holiday time!

Dhasain dinner with staff members of Nepal Red Cross;  our local contact person (LCP) Sir Kiran, Geetha, Duliua, Sir Pusparaj, Sir Dharmaraj, Lenika and Sir Shivrau. 

Dhasain dinner with staff members of Nepal Red Cross;  our local contact person (LCP) Sir Kiran, Geetha, Duliua, Sir Pusparaj, Sir Dharmaraj, Lenika and Sir Shivrau. 

Anyways, thanks for reading this blogpost and we hope that you will continue to follow our blog during this misson. We would also love to hear from you if you got something on your heart (either in Norwegian, English or Nepali).  You can either contact us here or on our facebook work-profiles Camilla Ungdomsdelegat and Thanuya Ungdomsdelegat. 

Comment (by clicking on the date of the blogpost e.g 1st of October), share and we are up for a challenge anytime.  

Nepali-love/अंगालो  from Thanuya

 

 

 

 

 

The Contrasts - cows, city, work and festivals.

We live in a country where cows are sacred. A common view is to see cows stride around the streets or relax in peoples backyard. For instance, we have two cows in our backyard. Sometimes, I like to compare how cows are treated in Nepal, to the treatment dogs gets in Norway. One of the biggest difference is that dogs in Nepal is to some extent treated as rats in Norway.

Another comparison I would like to draw is between the cities. Kathmandu - a hectic, big, and polluted city versus Dharan - a tropical, luxuriant and very green city. The scenery of Eastern Terai, Nepal, is breathtaking – a beauty I really look forward to explore and share with you further on. 

Almost two weeks have gone by since we arrived in Nepal. And to be quite honest – not so much has happened. This is related to the fact that we arrived in Nepal one week before the festivals and holidays started. Thanuya and I both like things to happens – and because things are going a bit slower here in Nepal due to the holiday – we need to be creative and make the best of our time. Thus, we have reorganized our apartment and office, got to know our neighbourhood and the Red Cross District/Sub Chapter Office ( Sunsari District Chapter ). Others things have been to find out which coffee shop we can buy good coffee, hiking, making food together, made plans of what to do the following weeks and not at least catching cockroaches in our flat. Basically, gotten to know eachother better. Moreover, because we are the only foreigners in Dharan (at least what we are aware of) – we have received so many curious looks. Therefore, an important goal of ours have been to say hi to the locals and show our faces by strolling down the streets in Dharan.

Please leave a comment or two on what you would like us to tell more about, and also visit our Facebook profiles (Facebook profiles Thanuya Ungdomsdelegat and Camilla Ungdomsdelegat) for more photos. 

Dhanyabaad! 

- Camilla

 

 

 

"BUT, WHAT IS YOUR REAL NAME?"

After spending a couple of days in Kathmandu we are now on our way to our district, Dharan. Very excited and curious about our new colleagues, friends and our new apartment we are going to see for the first time.

Colourful, diversity and joyfulness are all three words which briefly describes our experience during our first days in Kathmandu. The diversity of Nepal is fascinating. Both regarding to how people look, but also the different kinds of religions among the locals. During this week we have had the pleasure of visiting various temples, walking around in touristic areas like "Thamel" and eaten delicious Nepali-food like “dalbhaat” and “momos". This Saturday we were also very lucky and honoured to be invited to the engaged and motivated youths of Tri-Chandra Red Cross Youth Circle in Kathmandu. Here we got to meet some of the Red Cross youth volunteers and exchanged our Red Cross experience and activities - as well as some norwegian and Nepali songs.

However, some experiences have not been so pleasant. For instance, getting my waterbottle stolen from a monkey randomly on the street and having to wear a mask in our daily life because of the very strong pollution.  As you may understand, arriving in Kathmandu has been an experience very different from the Norwegian context - but we love it. Luckily, we do have Saturdays off to rest our Norwegian minds (and yes, we do work on Sundays here in Nepal).

Others things worth mentioning is hearning comments like "Oh, so you speak fluently Norwegian as well?" in our Nepali-language class and teaching our new friends how to prononce our names has been a real treat. When we first got to introduce ourselfes, I got the comment "But, what is your real name". So, from that time Camilla has been given the nepali-name, Kameela-  while for me, I still need to figure out what my real name is. Apperently, "Thanuya", is a name of a city here in Nepal. 

These are just some short happenings from our last four days, therefore we are really looking forward to update you from our district Sunsari, Dharan. In the meantime, feel free too leave a comment or share our blogpost. 

Thank you or as they write in Nepali नमस्ते 

Nepali-Hugs from Thanuya

 

 

To do more, do better - and reach further

Namaste, Welcome and Velkommen, 

Firstly, we are humbled and thankful that you want to follow us on this blog, on our journey for the next nine months in Sunsari District, Nepal. As part of the Youth Delegate Exchange Programme ( YDEP ) our drive is to contribute with inspiring, motivating and facilitating youths doing more, doing better and reaching further in their local communities through strengthening humanitarian activities.  So, who are we? 


Listen – Learn – Laugh 
Photo by: Sverre Ø. Eikill

Photo by: Sverre Ø. Eikill

I, Camilla, is about to start my dream of working as a Youth Delegate for the Red Cross in Nepal. This is my first time to visit Nepal. Thus, I’m curious and excited to live and work in a country very different from the culture I am used to, together with Thanuya. 

During this adventure, I’m eager to learn more about humanitarian youth activities; a new language; exchange culture; learn to cook Nepali food; and to enjoy the stunning nature of Nepal. In order to experience this, I will listen to those I meet along the way, learn from youths, co-workers and different stakeholders, and contribute with a good sense of humour and a big smile.

I have over five years of volunteer experience from the rescue corps, information work related to humanitarian values, principles and international humanitarian law. Moreover, I’m a political scientist with international experience from Southern Africa and Southeast Asia.

 

Exchange for Development and Sustainability
Photo by: Prakriti Bista

Photo by: Prakriti Bista

I, Thanuya, have always had a desire to get to know new people and cultures. This can be related to that I grew up in a home with parents from South-Asia. My ability to being open-minded is a aspect I really hope to bring with me as a Youth Delegate. The value of forming new friendship is something I appreciate a lot. I therefore hope to find people who makes me laugh a little bit louder, smile a little bigger and live a just a little bit different throughout my misson in Nepal. 

For the last six years I have had the pleasure to work with and for youngsters, both as an employee and a volunteer. Working with youths has been both challenging and fun. Challenging because there is no right answer to reach a goal. Fun because I have had the pleasure to learn from them myself. These experiences is something I look forward to build on in Nepal. I also bring with me an law degree from the University of Oslo and international experience from France, Australia and Colombia.

After visiting our blog, we hope that you become entertained, curious and inspired. Thus, we appreciate constructive feedback concerning what you would like to read and see more about on our blog. Furthermore, you can also follow our Facebook profiles (Camilla Ungdomsdelegat og Tash Ungdomsdelegat).

Danyabaad, Thank you, Tusen takk from Thanuya & Camilla,