Say hello to our next person out in the series "Red Crossers of Nepal"; Rabin Lamichhane! We have been so fortunate to get to know Rabin very well during our first few months here in Syangja, as he has ever so kindly spent his holiday time volunteering for us at the District Chapter office.
Rabin is 22 years old and from Syanjga district, but has like many other youths in Nepal moved to a city for his higher education. He is studying Civil Engineering in Kathmandu and lives there together with his siblings who also study, and his father who works at the Nepal Red Cross Headquarters. During the semester breaks Rabin enjoys travelling to Syangja, to visit his mother and grandparents who live here. It was during the long semester break (that covers the two main festivals Dashain and Tihar) that Rabin offered to volunteer for us and we are ever so grateful that he did! He not only helped with various practical tasks at the office but also acted as a translator for us during field visits and for official documents and letters. During this time he also helped us understand Nepali culture and its many festivals, as well as the calendar (as you may have noticed we had some issues with if you read our blog closely:) Continue reading below to learn more about the village where Rabin is from, why he moved away and about how he volunteered for the Red Cross not only for the Youth Delegates but also in the aftermath of the big earthquake in 2015.
Rabin told us his home is in a small town in Syangja called Uniachaur. He described it as a lovely place; "I love everything about my hometown, most orange farming, many orange trees. There are many hills, and there is access to road". Rabin also shared that it is quite different from Kathmandu, where he lives now as "it is a village, a small town and facilities are different. Both have electricity, but in my village there is no schools around, only basis schools that are up to fifth grade. I was 16 when I moved to Kathmandu, when I completed the SLC [School Leaving Certificate] exam. My father moved first, and then I went after". The main reason, like it is for many youth in our host district, was "because there are not many opportunities, or colleges in Syangja. So I had to go. Most of the people go to Kathmandu and some may go to Pokhara after completing their SLC."
When he was little Rabin's biggest dream was to become a pilot, like the ones he used to see far up in the sky travelling over his village - today he is mostly looking forward to finishing his bachelor degree and start working, "now I have the last year of my study, so I focus on study and after that I should have a job, that's the life. For a civil engineer it will be easy for me to search in Nepal. I will apply in private or government sector, I will try in both". Rabin also tells us that it is common for students to start supporting their parents after they finish their studies, by giving some of what they earn to their parents "so that they can help when they need".
When it comes to his experience with the Red Cross, Rabin has grown up with a relation to the organisation as his father has worked in it for 27 (!) years. The first time he heard about the youth doing Red Cross activities was "when I was in school, when I was in third or fourth grade, I heard about Red Cross day. We did not celebrate in my school but I heard about other schools, and saw when they came with banners" – in Nepal it is a common thing for schools with Red Cross Youth Circles to celebrate the founding day of the Red Cross.
However, he has volunteered actively for the organisation for the last three years, starting in the time immediately after the large and devastating earthquake which hit Nepal in 2015. In the aftermath the Red Cross coordinated much of the disaster response and rebuilding activities and Rabin took part in this as he "collected the food items and materials which are for earthquake victims, I have to manage that. We had five or six volunteers there." He continued his engagement by also volunteering for 'Shelter Cluster'; "it is an organisation and the volunteers are from Red Cross. I went there to help them. We had to collect the data about how houses are victimised after earthquake. I worked in Sindu Palchok and Lalitpur districts for 22 days. The first three days we had training, how to collect, and then after that we had to work."
When asked about how it was to volunteer after the earthquake, Rabin shared that he "felt very good, during volunteering I had to collect data, 1-2 month after earthquake we had to collect the data for victimised people. We had to collect in form, we had to reach the people, we had to go to there home, and ask them about what happened, how many people are in there home, what happened to your houses, we had to ask them, and we had to tick. We had to submit that. We went to many many houses, worked for 22 days, had to work for one day also to collect data". During this time he and other volunteers met many people who had lost not only their houses but also family members, but due to the training they had received beforehand Rabin felt that "it was not difficult, they said you had to ask slowly, so it was not so difficult. We had to be careful."
In this, we feel that Rabin has exemplified what is the main strength of the Red Cross; namely its many dedicated volunteers who step up and give freely of their time. It is this dedication and skill which makes people in Rabin's village believe that "Red Cross will provide different materials when they need, if they are victimised by earthquake or landslide they think that Red Cross can help us”
Lastly we wish to share his quote: "when I see the Red Cross I think of the organisation, which are helping the needing people, they have different trainings, a humanitarian organisation"
Svayansēvaka - volunteer - frivillig
Svanhild & Guri