Celebrating Norwegian National Day in Nepal

The Norwegian Constitution Day was celebrated in Damauli, Nepal today together with Tanahun Red Cross. We put on a cultural programme and shared how the constitution was created, sang the national anthem and performed a Norwegian fairytale. "Hipp Hipp Hurray" we chanted in a parade in the streets of Damauli while waving the Norwegian flag. 

17th of May parade in Damauli, Nepal. Photo: Ola Opdal.

Check out some more pictures from our celebration in Damauli below:

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Exchange Visit to NEIGHBOR Red Cross DISTRICT - Building Friendship and Future Collaboration Between Youth Volunteers

Being a youth volunteer is not only about serving and helping others. You are a part of an organization, a culture, a group and among friends. In Red Cross, you will get the opportunity to both develop your personal and professional skills. You can get friendships for a lifetime. Last week Red Cross Youth Tanahun went for an exchange visit with about 10 youth volunteers to meet and exchange stories about their work with the neighbor district Kaski. I heard laughter and saw smiles in the faces of the volunteers. I saw the beginning of future friendship and collaboration.

Youth volunteer from Tanahun and Kaski Red Cross together after boating on Pewa Lake, Pokhara, Nepal. 

Exchange visit to Kaski Red Cross; giving motivation and inspiration to youth volunteers

Over 10 youth volunteers from Tanahun District was traveling from Damauli in Tanahun to Pokhara in Kaski for an exchange visit. There is one saying: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together!” Collaboration between districts and exchange of knowledge and experiences can contribute getting youth volunteers to reach further. We can always learn from each other. By building a bridge between Kaski and Tanahun, our activities and ways of doing the voluntary work can develop. Not only does it develop the Red Cross District Chapter, it can contribute developing on a personal level within each of the youth volunteers. Inspiring and motivating volunteers is essential for making them feel that they are getting something back for being a volunteer. It can contribute to the choice of continuing to volunteer in the future.

Visit to a Youth Circle in Kaski and meeting with Kaski District Chapter

First stop was a youth circle in Kaski were both youth volunteers from Tanahun and Kaski told about their main activities and achievements. The focus was on how to create a sustainable Youth Circle and to learn from each other. Later on, we had a joint meeting together with staff from Kaski District, youth volunteers from both Tanahun and Kaski and staff from Tanahun District to share about possibilities for future collaboration. In both meetings two youth from Damauli showed courage and confident presenting activities conducted, models Red Cross Youth Tanahun is using in their work and about what kind of challenges they see among youth in Nepal. It opened up for discussion and conversations about how Red Cross can contribute on topics like early marriage, drug abuse and traffic safety.

 

Building friendship through social programme

I realized fast that this exchange was much more than just a collaboration between two districts. It was about a friendship, building relations, experiencing new places, getting motivated and getting inspired. While visiting the Youth Circle in Kaski some of the volunteers notices that a volunteer from Kaski was interested in music, so they requested him to sing. Suddenly the connection between us was different. The ice was broken. Smiles where seen upon people’s faces. People were cheering and clapping along while other was dancing and singing. After the visit, volunteers from Tanahun together with some of the volunteers from Kaski Youth Circle went for boating on Phewa Lake in Pokhara for a social interaction programme.

Cultural singing and dancing when Tanahun Red Cross Youth visited a Youth Circle in Kaski District, Nepal. Video: Ola Opdal.

This was the end of the day, but definitely not the end of the friendships or the future collaboration.

Youth Volunteers Marking World Red Cross And Red Crescent Day Providing Food and Teaching First Aid

Today is World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day. Every 8th of May we celebrate our worldwide organization that has served local communities all around the world. Red Cross and Red Crescent are present everywhere for everyone in 190 countries. Today a youth volunteer in Tanahun said that “I feel happy and proud to serve the people in my community”, after giving out necessary supplies and food to an old age care home, called Parasar Brishasram, in Damauli, Nepal. Red Cross Youth Tanahun marked this day with this visit and by teaching locals about first aid in the center of Damauli, Nepal. 

Visiting old age care home providing necessary supplies and food

Red Cross’ mission is to alleviate and prevent human suffering. Today youth volunteers, together with District Chapter representative, visited an old age care home called Parasar Brishasram in Damauli, Nepal. They provided necessary supplies and food. This home is supported by different organization and is depending on support and help to make a good life for the people living there. I serve is the youth volunteers motto, and by helping those who need support we prevent human suffering and work through our own principle – humanity.

Youth volunteers teaching first aid to locals in Damauli

After visiting the old age care home, the youth volunteers began their second mission of the day. They grabbed some blankets and first aid supplies from the district chapters’ office and started walking to Damauli center. Next step was to teach locals about first aid and spread awareness about what kind of work Red Cross Youth Tanahun is doing. In the center of Damauli, in the shadow of a bell tree, they prepared a first aid camp. Some youth were going around talking to people about Red Cross Youth Tanahun and that they could visit our first aid camp to learn more about first aid. Locals were gathering around the youth volunteers, watching while they showed and explained about first aid.

A group of police officers stopped by and paid much interest in what the youth had to say. After a demonstration of how to stop a bleeding and how to treat fractures in arms and legs, the locals were eager to try themselves. With the support of the youth volunteers, people were practicing how to stop a bleeding, how to handle a leg fracture and how to make a sling for a broken arm.

With the motto I serve, I am sure that today was a day were the community saw this motto in action. Red Cross will continue to be present everywhere for everyone, and to see more about what youth volunteers do in Tanahun District, Nepal, visit their Facebook page: Red Cross Youth Tanahun.

Preparation, Response and Recovery of Earthquakes - a collection of blogposts

Earthquake preparation, recovery and rebuilding is part of the work Red Cross do in Nepal. Throughout our mission as Youth Delegates we have learned several aspects of this. It is not only first aid trainings and rebuilding collapsed buildings, it is also about teaching people what to do when an earthquake shakes the ground under our feet. 

Below you find a collection of our blogpost related to different aspects of Earthquake preparation, emergency response and recovery and rebuilding after an earthquake.

Youth have raised awareness about earthquake safety to the public. A school earthquake simulation was held in Damauli, Tanahun, teaching participants from over 50 districts to drop, cover and hold on. After the shaking people got of the building to seek safety in an open space. At the same time Red Cross Volunteers were providing First Aid to people in need. Young Volunteers have also learned First Aid which can save lives in everyday situation as well as if an earthquake happens. We have learned about houses being built back better and communities being rebuilt in Sindhupalchok, one of the most affected districts by the April Earthquake in 2015.  When an earthquake does strike several humanitarian actors come together to help and this work must be coordinated and practiced. You can read more about this in our blogpost about earthquake simulation response - practicing what to do to help people. 

Red Cross First Aiders ready to assist during Earthquake Simulation in Chautara, Sindhupalchok. Photo by Kathrine Flaate 

Red Cross First Aiders ready to assist during Earthquake Simulation in Chautara, Sindhupalchok. Photo by Kathrine Flaate 

Awareness raising, simulations, first aid knowledge and sharing our knowledge with others is essential for good prevention, response and recovery when an earthquake happens to ensure that we as Red Cross can help the most people, before, during and after catastrophes. And in this work youth can play a positive role. 

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Earthquake Response Simulation – practicing what to do to help people

What do humanitarian organizations like the Red Cross do during an emergency? How do humanitarian agencies and the Nepali government work together to ensure that people get the help they need? We participated in an earthquake emergency response simulation in Chautaura, Sindhuplachok with the Norwegian Red Cross.

Emergency response through the lens of a camera

Equipped with cameras we covered rescuers and first aiders saving people from a burning house, a collapsing building and providing the wounded with first aid before the persons were carried to the medical facilities for further check-ups and help. Red Crossers were in many roles, some providing first aid, others coordinating to ensure people got help from first aiders while other Red Crossers worked on building and providing shelters.

Coordination to best meet the needs of earthquake affected

The cluster emergency simulation was constantly coordinated by the governmental and humanitarian agencies such as Red Cross, Save the Children, UNICEF, OXFAM among others. Children played in the child friendly zone, and women could get information regarding prevention of sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) at the female friendly space. There were also tents for shelter, first aid, WASH, food and agriculture, livelihood and a medical tent.

Humanitarian agencies and the Nepal government must coordinate their response with each other during a disaster. The emergency plan should be rehearsed and practiced to better ensure that the response and coordination works in reality. The emergency response simulation opened up for identifying strengths and weaknesses on the implementation of the plan that can be improved upon.

A plan of action

When an earthquake happens it is not time for humanitarian organizations to figure out what to do.  And earthquakes will happen again in Nepal. Therefore government and humanitarian agencies must be prepared with a plan for emergency response to help people. As it can take some time before external support reaches Nepal from outside, and internal support reaches all the affected areas it essential that an emergency response plan is in place that is based on the available in-country capacity according to a report by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee.

A Earthquake Contingency plan has been prepared by the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT). “The Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) is the Government’s lead agency for coordinating disaster preparedness and response. International and national organizations coordinate and augment response efforts through MoHA, and particularly through the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC)” states the contingency plan dated February 2016.

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Earthquake Recovery and Rebuilding Continue in Nepal

8 Million persons were affected by the 2015 earthquake in Nepal. In Norway we heard about on the news that the Gorkha Earthquake killed nearly 9000 persons. 3570 of the persons who lost their lives were in Sindhupalchok district.

Two years after hearing about it on the news, we saw the impact of the earthquakes on communities in Sindhupalchok during a week long work-visit with the Norwegian Red Cross.  In the district located 2,5 hours outside of Kathmandu the Norwegian Red Cross continue to work holistically with rebuilding houses and building up communities

People lost their houses when the earth shook at 7.8 magnitude on April 25. 2015. It was a Saturday.  Two weeks later another earthquake followed at 7.6 on May 12. 600,000 houses were destroyed. In Sindhupalchok alone over 6000 houses were completely and partially destroyed. Close to 90.000 houses were affected. The earthquakes had an immediate effect on people´s lives. Life stock died, school buildings collapsed, government and health buildings were damaged, and water supplies were damaged. People´s everyday lives were shook up. 

Balloons sent up into the Oslo Skyline next to National theateret symbolizing solidarity with Nepal on the occasion of Dugnad for Nepal Telethon. Photo by Kathrine Olsen Flaate.

Balloons sent up into the Oslo Skyline next to National theateret symbolizing solidarity with Nepal on the occasion of Dugnad for Nepal Telethon. Photo by Kathrine Olsen Flaate.

In Norway we raised funds, in Nepal Red Cross provided relief. 
White balloons were sent up into the Oslo skyline in solidarity with those affected by the earthquake. A tear-filled concert reached into the living rooms of Norwegians on TV´s across the country. The Telethon collected humanitarian funds for the emergency response in Nepal. In Norway we fundraised and sent aid. In Nepal persons who have now become our colleagues and friends felt the earth trembling under their feet. Shortly after, they were back on their feet to contribute with emergency relief.

Build Back Better
And our colleagues are still contributing with reconstruction and rebuilding both houses and communities. Reconstruction and rebuilding does not happen over night. Visiting one of the most affected districts Sindhupalchok through Norwegian Red Cross, we saw damaged houses standing next to temporary housing. Work still remains to be done. And work gets done by the Red Cross. Holistically.

Earthquake recovery is about more than rebuilding houses
Reconstruction and house building is combined with work training. One earthquake safe house is built in 50 days by six persons. At the same time the house-builders become trained masons.  One house built for one family contributes to that five other families gets one breadwinner. It is not only house building that is needed to rebuild communities after the ground shook up life as it used to be. Several families also lost their livelihoods, as their animals were killed and fertile agricultural land destroyed. Therefore rebuilding of houses and WASH projects of goes hand in hand with on the job trainings and cash for work.

 

Youth Volunteers Trained in First Aid

First Aid knowledge is essential for any Red Cross volunteer.  Knowing first aid ensures an ability to help people in need.  

24 Red Cross youth volunteers in Tanahun District learned First Aid in this weekend. During the training the youth volunteers practice what they learn, because with first aid it is not enough to theoretically know what do when something happens; you must respond and react when it matters.

Know First Aid – alleviate human suffering
First aid is probably something you have heard about before. It is important to know in case something happens such as in an emergency. The need for first aid however does not only arise when emergencies such as an earthquake happen. Rather the need for knowing first aid can prove itself useful at any time. When you least expect it; A woman falls down onto the ground while walking down the street in front of you, with first aid knowledge you can help her.  A man falls off his motorcycle and scratches his leg, with first aid knowledge you can help him. You go out to eat dinner with your friend, and she gets food stuck in her throat. Luckily you know what to do when someone choke, so your friend can shortly breathe normally again. Someone is injured in an accident, with first aid knowledge you can ensure safe breathing channels and put the person in a stable side position until more help arrives. With first aid knowledge you can contribute towards saving lives.  Need for First Aid can happen anytime, be prepared and learn First Aid. 


If you want to learn First Aid – contact your Red Cross/Red Crescent and become a volunteer and learn the skills to alleviate human suffering.

Youth Practice what to do During an Earthquake Simulation in Damauli

An earthquake simulation took place during the National Junior/Youth Seminar held in a school of Damauli. Over 160 participants partook in the simulation at the end of February. All participants, including us, were placed in classrooms on the 3rd floor of a school building before the simulation started. Suddenly a load alarm was heard.  

Participating in a Earthquake Simulation for the First Time

This was our first time participating in an earthquake simulation. When you hear the alarm, you should remember DROP, COVER and HOLD ON. This we had already learned.  Still, sitting in a classroom with 50 other persons we felt nervous. Everyone talked in Nepali, and we understood some words here and there. We felt unsure for what was going to happen. Suddenly we could hear the alarm.

Immediately people dropped onto the floor. Some covered their head by climbing under the desks and the benches. Those who could not climb under any furniture covered their head and neck with both arms. We all held on to the desk covering us. When the alarm stopped, it symbolized that the shaking was over. While walking calmly out of the building we continued to cover our neck and head. Flying and falling objects are among of the biggest dangers during an earthquake. Therefore, you should always protect your head and never move before the shaking is over.

You can read more about what you should do before, during and after an earthquake in our previous blog post. 

When we came out of the building, we were directed to an open space where it was a low risk for buildings collapsing over us. There we were placed in lines. Females in one line, male in another. During the next minutes, we experienced chaos and a number of aftershocks. The alarm came on several time while standing in the line. In the video below you can get a sense of the chaos; the loud alarm, hurt people screaming, people running everywhere, frightened people who cannot find their loved ones, the fear of an aftershock and ambulance sirens.

Read about what to do before, during and after an earthquake. Practice with your family. When you are in a new place, find out wat to do incase an earthquake. Stay safe!

The Role of Youth In Reaching The Sustainable Development Goals

Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) are international accepted goals for developing the world. Together with two other youth volunteers from Tanahun District, Nepal, we picked out 6 of the total 17 STG. We had an interactive workshop where 160 participants from the National Junior/Youth Seminar partook in a session were they could discuss and write ideas of how youth, and especially Red Cross Youth, can be a part of achieving these 6 international goals.

Two Youth Volunteers from Tanahun District talking about the role of youth in reaching the Sustainable Development Goals. Photo: Kathrine Olsen Flaate.

What is the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)?

STG consist of 17 goals to transform the world. They are international accepted goals to build a better world were no country is left behind. They target to be achieve within 15 years (2015-2030). You can find 169 different targets/indicators under the 17 goals set by The United Nations at 25th of September 2015. Previous goals were called the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). Click here to read about all the 17 STG.

The role of youth reaching the STG

Some of the SDG are about changing people’s minds and thoughts. Creating peace, have mutual understanding and to have gender equality can be reached by changing society’s norms and traditions. By starting to work with the youth, it can affect many generations in the future. If a youth for example get to understand and develop values of respect and focusing on creating gender equality, it can affect his/hers future family and all the people he/she meet.

Youth are also representing a big percentage of the world’s population, and if we are to reach the 17 goals within 2030, we have to involve all ages in a society; because the goals are about every human being in the world. Red Cross Youth Nepal have currently 800 000 volunteers, if the youth together with Nepal Red Cross find a way to mobilize all this resources, we can only imagine how much they could do.

We picked out 6 goals to focus on during the workshop that was based on the fields of activity of the Red Cross Youth in Nepal:

3. Good Health and well-being (Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all ages)

4. Quality education (Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all)

5. Gender equality (Gender equality is a fundamental human right. Women and girls are to have equal access to education, health care, decent work and representation in political and economic decision-making processes)

6. Clean water and sanitation (Ensure availability and sustainability management of water and sanitation for all)

10. Reduced inequalities (Reduce inequality within and among countries)

16. Peace, justice and strong institutions (Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for Sustainable Development. Provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels)

So how can youth contribute to reach these 6 goals?

160 participants wrote down and discussed their ideas in our interactive workshop. Here you can read some of the ideas. If you do not understand the language, find a paper and a pen, and start to write down what YOU can do!

 

 

National Junior/Youth Seminar: An Arena For Youth Empowerment

When I was younger, I always thought adults were more vise and clever. I thought they had the correct answers and that I needed to learn how to be like them. My opinion was not the right one. Now I realize that the adults are following the societies’ norms. Norms they have learnt to follow by their seniors. Some of them might be good, but some of them need to change. How should youth adapt to societies’ norms? How should the opinion of youth be treated? About 160 youth and junior volunteers from 50 out of 75 district in Nepal met last week for the National Junior Youth Seminar of NRCS; the perfect meeting for youth and junior opinions to be heard.

The National Junior/Youth Seminar

Junior and Youth representative from around 50 districts of Nepal met at the National Junior/Youth Seminar together with NRCS’s president and Secretary General, Teacher Sponsors and other stakeholders. This year Tanahun District was the host district for the annual National Junior/Youth Seminar, held at Satyawati School in Damauli 25th-26th February 2017. The Seminar lasted for two days. The first day consisted of a rally/parade through Damauli city centre, welcome speeches, introduction, sessions about relevant topics to inspire and a cultural program in the evening for the youth and junior volunteers. The next day it was an earthquake simulation, session about new policy of Nepal J/Y Red Cross, awards and ending speeches. How is, or can, this seminar contribute to empowering youth and enabling them to involve in decision-making processes?

Children, after all, are not just adults-in-the-making. They are people whose current needs and rights and experiences must be taken seriously.
— Alfie Kohn

Empower Youth to Increase Youth Participation in Decision-Making Processes

One of YDEP’s goals is to increase the participation of young volunteers in decision-making processes. One example from the National Seminar was that there was two youth volunteers having the role of Masters of Ceremony. They introduced all speeches and led the audience and participants safely through the first day. This was the first National Seminar were youth have been Masters of Ceremony. This is a way of including youth in the seminar. It is a way of enabling youth to involve. It is a step in right direction and a part of youth empowerment. But does the empowerment process stop here? Should we be satisfied?

 

The answer is simply “no”. One way of understanding and explaining empowerment is to give power, to enable and to give authority to someone. It is about acting on your own authority. Robert Adams explain empowerment as: “(…) the capacity of individuals, groups and/or communities to take control of their circumstances, exercise power and achieve their own goals (…)” This mean that the youth need some kind of capacity to act in their own authority. They can not just be told or assigned tasks. A good question you can ask yourself if you are working with youth is: Did the youth take part in the decision-making processes? Because if the youth is not involved in the decisions, if their opinions is not heard, and if they don't have any power or authority; aren't they just a token or a medal you have because it looks nice? If we want to change norms, we have to empower the youth in believing in them self. We have to enable them to participate and give them the right to share their opinions. They have to be seen as equal community members with as much right as adults to take part in decision-making processes.

Rally in Damauli with all participants from the Seminar. Photo: Ola Opdal

Rally in Damauli with all participants from the Seminar. Photo: Ola Opdal

When building a house for a whole family; Everybody who shall live in it should be equal decision-makers

As I said about norms in the beginning of the post: "(...) Some of them might be good, but some of them need to change (...)" Youth have to participate more in decision-making processes. Otherwise, it is as if we are building a house, but we only think about the adults needs. Nothing in house is either for youth or adapted to youth. The youth are there in the building and constructing process and they are actually building the house together with the adults, but their opinions doesn’t matter. Their thought are not listened to. They do not have the authority or power to do anything other the listen to what the seniors says.  Youth and seniors should equally share decisions. Every opinion should be listened to, and together youth and seniors can find the best solution. When all parts have been a part of the decision, it is also easier to accept the outcome and the result because that is what all parts decided on.

 

Please tell us your opinion about this topic. Comment below.
Continue following us on Facebook and here on the blog. Stay tuned for next blog post about when we, the Youth Delegates, together with two Youth Volunteers from Tanahun held a session about Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and the role of Youth Volunteers for how to meet the SDG in the National Junior/Youth Seminar.

Why Choose Value-Based Actions ?

You will find volunteers all around the world. Probably in thousands of different voluntary organizations. Have you wondered why people become volunteers? What is their motivation, and what drives them to do voluntary work? Can their values affect their actions as volunteers?  

Respect. Honesty. No discrimination.
— Three personal values written by a Youth Volunteer in Tanahun District, Nepal

Youth Volunteers answer of their values, Tanahun District, Nepal. Photo: Ola Opdal.

Motivation Affects Our Behavior and Actions

Motivation can be explained as the power that affect our behavior and actions. We can divide our motivation into inner- and outer motivation (Intrinsic- and extrinsic motivation). The outer motivation is coming from someone else outside yourself. The salary can motivate you to do your job, people’s positive feedback can motivate you to continue with playing football and expectations from your family can motivate you to study harder for your exams. But what happens when the outer motivation factor disappear? Do your actions change? Do your behavior change?

Inner motivation refers to behavior and action that is driven by internal award.  “Why are you doing this?” is a question that often comes up. I think many volunteers have strong inner motivation because of their answer of “why?” Often is the answers about their values. The values that affects how they want to behave. The values of their ethical standards. Because when they know their values, then they can find the inner motivation of their actions and behavior.  

 

Crating Value-based Facilitation and action

This weekend 12 Youth Volunteers in Tanahun participated in a training to become District Level Facilitators of future trainings. During this training, they reflected upon value-based facilitation. Step one in facilitation is to know your values and yourself. If you do not know why you want to volunteer as a facilitator, what is then your inner motivation? If you do not know what you think is right or wrong, how can you lead others? One youth volunteer wrote three important aspect of his/her values:

1. I give respect to others and I expect that they also respect me.
2.  I am honest.
3. Equality
— Youth Volunteer, Tanahun District, Nepal.

The notes from the youth volunteers shows that the volunteer want to facilitate the district level trainings because of an inner motivation of crating equality, respect, friendship, non-discriminaton and honesty among participants.

Everyone should be:
Equally treated
Respected
Facilities should be equally provided
— Youth Volunteer, Tanahun District, Nepal.

This Youth Volunteers from Tanahun District, Nepal, has become Facilitators at District Level, and they all have chosen value-based facilitation.

Now you can try to write down your top-3 values. Maybe your future actions will feel right in your heart because they are matching your values. I hope value-based action can contribute with boosting your inner motivation!

 

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I am #NotATarget

Civilians are not to be targets in conflicts, and neither are humanitarian aid workers. Aid workers are present in conflicts to alleviate suffering and help persons affected by conflict and war. They do not take sides in conflicts and they are not targets.

The campaign I am #NotATarget currently mobilizes the global Red Cross/Red Crescent movement around the world. Volunteers and staff stand in solidarity with our International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) colleagues who were killed in Afghanistan on 8 th February. Not only are we standing in solidarity, we are also shedding light onto something that is essential; aid workers are protected by International Humanitarian Law. Attacks on humanitarian workers is a violation of International Humanitarian Law. Just like civilians, aid workers are not to be attacked and are not to be targets in any conflicts.

Staff of Tanahun Red Cross stands in solidarity showing that Aid workers are not targets. Aid workers are there to help people in need and does not take sides in conflict. 

Staff of Tanahun Red Cross stands in solidarity showing that Aid workers are not targets. Aid workers are there to help people in need and does not take sides in conflict. 

The increase of attacks of humanitarian workers must stop
The killing of 6 ICRC aid workers and two unaccounted for in Afghanistan last week is not the first of its kind.  Since the mid 2000 there has been an increase of attacks against aid workers. For aid workers to help and alleviate suffering of people affected by conflicts they can not be attacked.   

Aid workers are not targets
Humanitarian aid workers are not part of the conflict and does not take any sides in a conflict. Rather, aid workers are there to help and to alleviate suffering among people affected by conflict and war. International Humanitarian Law protecting aid workers must be respected, so that civilians and those in need can be reached with life necessary assistance. 

#NotATarget - a solidarity social media campaign by humanitarian community
The social media solidarity campaign #NotATarget was first launched by Doctors Without Borders after health structures were repeatedly bombed and shelled in Syria in 2015. Now the social media campaign is continuously used to spread awareness about that civilians, hospitals and humanitarian workers are not targets, but should be protected during conflicts.

Stand in solidarity with civilians affected by conflict and aid workers who alleviates suffering during times of conflict and share your own message in social media with I am #NotATarget. 

Let´s talk about sex ♪♪♬

Sexual and Reproductive health is more than putting on a condom correctly. This weekend 26 Red Cross Youth Volunteers were trained to be facilitators in the topic of young health.

Youth peer educators contribute positively to achieving the third of the Sustainable Development Goals namely to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages. Increasing access to information about sexual and reproductive health benefits individuals and communities through reduced sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies and increased acceptance of sexual orientations and people living with HIV. Not only that, discussions related to differing expectations to girls and boys challenged gender norms for what girls and boys can and cannot do came up in our safe space.

Vegetables to be used to practice putting on condom´s correctly step-by-step. Photo by Kathrine Olsen Flaate

Vegetables to be used to practice putting on condom´s correctly step-by-step. Photo by Kathrine Olsen Flaate

I am a boy, a girl or a human being?
What girls and boys can and cannot do is not only related to dating and whether sexual activity can happen before marriage. It is also related to how boys and girls are expected to dress and behave in ways that meets socially acceptable views of masculinity or femininity. But what do you do if you are biologically a boy but you feel like a girl? Or you are a girl preferring to act more masculine and dress like the opposite sex? What if you don´t feel like either? In Nepal there are three legal genders a person can identify as in ID papers; female, male or third gender. In Norway on the other hand people can only identify as two legal genders; male or female in ID papers.

A representative from Blue Diamond Society held a workshop with the youth. He shared information and discussed sexuality, sexual orientation and how it is to live as a LGBTQI in Nepal, a country where same sex relationships are legal but not socially acceptable.  The youth were curious and got answers to their questions in a safe zone.

Contraceptives for family planning and STD prevention  
A nurse from Damauli Hospital provided information about reproductive health and pregnancy. Her lecture had a family planning-focus as it is important for young people to know about how pregnancy works as well as how to prevent pregnancy by different types of contraceptive usage; be it condoms, birth control etc. Additionally she shared information about various sexually transmitted diseases focusing especially on HIV/AIDS.  Condoms should be used to avoid HIV transmission. No condom, no sex. In an effort to reduce stigma towards people living with HIV, the nurse shared that when on medicines a HIV positive person can live a holistic life. To prevent HIV transmission, stigma towards the ca 39,000 persons living with HIV in Nepal must also continue to decrease. And here youth can continue to make a difference by breaking myths and stigma. 

Youth Delegate Ola Opdal facilitates participatory methods with training-participants at Young Health Training in Damauli, Tanahun District. Photo by Kathrine Olsen Flaate.

Youth Delegate Ola Opdal facilitates participatory methods with training-participants at Young Health Training in Damauli, Tanahun District. Photo by Kathrine Olsen Flaate.

Setting boundaries and respecting boundaries
Sexual and gender based violence is a challenge facing youth, especially girls, across the world, be it in Nepal or Norway.  It must be prevented and stopped.

A Public Health Officer from the Tanahun Health Department addressed the issue of sexual and gender based violence sharing the new procedures of reporting rape and sexual harassment to the police through health stations to ensure sensitive assistance. This is especially important as cases often go unreported due to stigma towards the survivor.  Other aspects of the training focused on the essential mutual and active consent in relations and sexuality. This included practical activities to set boundaries for one´s own body and respecting the boundaries of another person. Additionally, throughout the training it was highlighted that without active consent, a clear yes, then sexual acts should not be done.

Information and knowledge continues to spread after training
With this introduction to sexual and reproductive health the youth volunteers will now bring the information back to their youth circles and communities for more youth to learn the same.

A reporter from Damauli local radio came by to interview the youth about sexual health among youth. Thus the information gained at the training, reached further than the 26 participants and members in Red Cross Youth Circles. 

Feeling Happy, Curious and Grateful After Attending our First Nepali Wedding

Kathrine looks at herself in the mirror, while Ola gets dressed in the room next door. Five Nepali women stand around Kathrine making her ready to attend a Nepali Wedding. Feeling beautiful in the Nepali sari dress and with a bindi in her forehead, Kathrine looks like a Nepali woman. In the mirror, she sees reflections of the strong sparkling colored clothes wrapped around her body. Ola comes through the door wearing his black suit. He puts on a blue tie. A Nepali traditional hat, a Daka Topi, is put on as a final touch.  All dressed up, Ola and Kathrine are ready to attend their Nepali Wedding for the first time.

Ola Opdal and Kathrine O. Flaate ready to attend a Nepali Wedding. Photo: Kathrine O. Flaate

Ola Opdal and Kathrine O. Flaate ready to attend a Nepali Wedding. Photo: Kathrine O. Flaate

Nepali weddings span over several days with a variation of events. There is no one wedding tradition that everyone follows. Instead, there are different rituals in every community in Nepal. About 80% of Nepal’s population is Hindu; therefore, most of the wedding ceremonies are according to Hindu traditions. In the second largest religion Buddhism, the weddings have fewer events and rituals.

The sun is warm, the wind is blowing softly as Ola and Kathrine enters the wedding through a big colorful gate decorated with yellow, orange, red and pink colors. They attend one of the wedding events in the home of the bride´s family as the invitation they received was from the bride herself.  Inside the gate, they see a little stage with a sofa decorated and colorful like a Norwegian Christmas tree. The smell of Nepali food being prepared fills the area as the sound of “click, click, click” from all the cameras taking pictures of the beautiful bride overgoes the light chattering of guests.

The colors red and green are repeated in every Nepali wedding. The bride usually wears the color red signifying purity, dignity and honor. Her hands are decorated with beautiful Mehndi patterns symbolizing the transforming from youth to womanhood. Although cast is not formally recognized in Nepal the social stratification system often determines whom you will marry and what kind of wedding traditions you will follow. Endogamy, the practice of marrying within your caste is the norm. The caste represent heritage, family background and values you should behave after.

Ola and Kathrine meet the bride wearing shiny, sparkling accessories and red clothes. They give her a present and a blessing for her coming married life. There is a mass of people around the bride.  Compared to Norwegian weddings there are many more people attending. The expected number of guests throughout the day is around 1000 people. Suddenly all the guest go out in the street. The groom, together with his family and friends, arrives. Ola, Kathrine and the rest of the guest make an open path for the groom and the procession to reach the bride and her family.

The groom and his family visit to the bride’s home is one of the big events during the marriage ceremony. This is called, Janti, and is a wedding procession. The family and friends of the groom gather in a procession and walk the last 500 meters to the bride’s house. When the procession has reached the brides house a welcoming ceremony of the groom is done. The father’s bride and the bride walk three rounds while pouring water around the groom. In the meeting between the groom and the bride, they also exchange Malas; a green flower garlands around the neck.

Among hundreds of guest in a circle around the bride and the groom, Ola and Kathrine stand observing the marriage ceremony taking place. Kathrine stands on her toes to try to see what is going on. They hear blessing, they see proud parents, guests smiling and rituals they cannot explain being. Two lives are now united.

We both feel happy to have experienced parts of a Nepali wedding, curious to learn more about Nepali traditions and grateful to be invited.

Stay tuned for next blog post!

Ola & Kathrine

 

Youth raise awareness about Earthquake Safety

Red Cross Youth Tanahun raised awareness about earthquake safety for a national marking. Nepal being an earthquake prone country, earthquake awareness and having the knowing of what to do before, during and after is important for both young and old.

Nearly 800 0000 homes were destroyed by the earthquake that shook up Nepal on 25th April 2015. 9000 people were killed in the 7.8 magnitude earthquake and its 7.3 magnitude aftershook.

Red Cross Youth Tanahun walks the streets of Damauli to raise awareness about Earthquake Safety. Photo by Kathrine Olsen Flaate. 

Tanahun Red Cross and other community organisations raised awareness about earthquake safety earlier this week. Safe and steady housing was one of the prevention measures lifted up. Rather than going into nitty gritty of construction of safe buildings, here are a few tips for what to do before, during and after an earthquake shakes up the ground.

Be prepared
- Make a Grab Bag

In the bag that is readily available when the ground rattles you items for 72 hours survival must be packed well in advance. Pack it now, because you never know when an earthquake might happen. An example of packinglist: The essentials; ready to eat food, water purifier, 1-2 bottles of water, one pair of clothing, flashlight, medicines if you take any, first aid kit, pocketknife, copy of your most important documents and some money. The grab bag should be max 10 kg.

- Drop, cover and hold on
Learn and practice the drop, cover and hold on actions to be taken if an earthquake happens. Participate in earthquake simulation to be prepared.

During the shaking
- Drop, cover and hold on

If you are inside a building when an earthquake happens then stay calm and stand under a door and building pillars. Drop, cover and hold on to something. Make sure you protect your head. Do not stand nearby heavy furniture that can fall on you. If you are on the ground floor and nearby to the exit, then leave the building for an open space. Stay away from electric grids and tree

After an Earthquake
- Make sure you and others are not injured and seek open space
Check to see if you are ok, then check others nearby for any injuries and make sure they are ok. Then try to go to an open ground space outside. Stay outside in the open space. Contact family, friends and loved ones to see if they are ok and to inform them of your status. If you know first aid, then you can assist others by doing first aid if needed. 

Empowering youth volunteers through peer education

Your hands are shaking. The paper in your hands are trembling. You look up and see a big crowd. Everyone looks at you with expectations you feel you have no idea how to meet. As a youth, you always step into something new. Of course, you have not experienced everything at the age of 16. As a youth, you have only climbed 10% of the mountain of life and have new areas to explore. Then it all comes down to the question; do youth have the opportunity, tools, skills and knowledge to climb higher and explore more?

Yes, youth have the skills to climb higher – they just need to get the tools to do it.

Youth Volunteer facilitates his first training

«After a time I felt like I was the teacher. I was nervous in the beginning, but after some time I got more confident», said a Red Cross Youth Volunteer in 11th grade after facilitating a Red Cross Training. It was his first time facilitating a training. He is a great example that youth are not only the future, youth are the present, right here and now.   Youth are able to contribute to a positive change through their knowledgde and skills with others. Youth know a lot about being youth, and their experiences as youth provide additional perspectives on the world, from a different angel than that of adults.  Youth play an important role. The 16 year old youth volunteer was trusted and given the opportunity to step up, take responsibility and be involved in conveying his knowledge with other youth.

 

YDEP - increasing empowerment and involvement

Strengthening the capacity of youth is one of YDEP`s goals. We work on and with empowering youth. What does empowerment mean you may wonder? Empowering is to enable, give power and give authority. The 11th grade YouthVolunteer was enabled through participating at a training provided by the Youth Delegates where he learned about Red Cross Movement and International Humanitarian Law. At the training he also learned how he could teach this away to youth volunteers in his Youth Circle (A Youth Volunteer Group). When we work on empowerment of youth by ensuring youth involvement and inclusion we pave the way in structural aspects also. Through discussions with the school administration and the Red Cross District about how youth themselves are enabled to teach away their knowledge to other youth.

 

Peer education; Exchange of knowledge between participants having something in common

Peer means equal. Both the Youth Trainer and the Youth Volunteer participating are equal through being a youth,  being Red Cross Volunteers and having something else in common. The trainer is not the overall expert, rather the person is a facilitator. The trainer pass on his/her expert knowledge, while it is also about a mutual exchange of experiences were both the trainers and the youth learn from one another. Participants in this kind of trainings can gain skills to strengthen their local communities and take more control over their lives.

To see more of that we and the Youth Volunteers do in Tanahun District, follow Ola Ungdomsdelegat and Kathrine Ungdomsdelegat on Facebook.

 

A Youth Spot opens to be space for inclusion and growth

Four white walls, a brown coloured door, widows, a comfortable sitting area, some colourful chairs and a desk made out of wood. With first sight the Youth Spot just looks like any room, then suddenly you discover that it is a place for inclusion. A place for every youth across gender, cast, age, religion and culture. Here you can meet youth from Damauli area, exchange knowledge and get new experiences. You can bring the challenges and problems you might have in life. This is your safe place to be yourself and a place to gain knowledge through workshops held by other youths.  

A place for inclusion and being yourself as you are
We have opened The Youth Spot here in Damauli, Tanahun District. The concept is from Norwegian Red Cross Youth and their humanitarian activity called Social Meeting Spot. It is about creating a local humanitarian activity that meet local needs. In this case the need of having a place for youth across caste, gender, religion and culture. The goal is to decrease discrimination and increase inclusion; to create a safe meeting spot for youth. Red Cross’ work is based on the needs of the community. Needs not covered by society already. The Youth Spot is open for all youth in Damauli area.

The Youth Spot is driven by Tanahun Red Cross and Youth Volunteers. It will be open regularly, providing youth with workshops about temporary challenges they meet in their everyday life and giving them a safe meeting place that contribute to inclusion and friendship. It is also a space where youth learn how to make ideas turn into action.

Spot contributing to a safe and open place for youth
We were happy about getting access to a room at the District Office in Damauli. With first sight it was used as storage for construction materials. But after some cleaning, painting and buying some furniture; the room turned into the Youth Spot. At the opening we had youth coming from eight different schools in Tanahun District, Red Cross Staff from Tanahun District, representative from the District Junior/Youth Committee and representative from the District Board in Tanahun. Speeches were held and they touched upon the topics that youth can often feel distanced between themselves and their parents, which is known as the generation gap. This gap creates difficulties regarding the role and expectation towards youth and the lack of influence youth have over defining these themselves.

The opening itself was a safe zone and place to be yourself; Youth danced and some took the courage to show their singing talent.  As we saw it, the youth opened up and shared their personality, they could be themselves; and that each of them are good enough as they are. 

 

HIV/AIDS Prevention to be worked on continuously, not only on World AIDS Day.

For the 36.7 million people living with HIV worldwide, HIV/AIDS prevention, stigma and discrimination reduction, access to testing and medicines is essential 365 days a year, not only on December 1st.

To work on HIV prevention we must break down stigma and to do that we must first break down our own stigma.
Therefore Youth Delegate Kathrine Flaate shared a personal story with the newly formed Red Cross Youth Circle at Shree Tribhuwan Higher Secondary School on World AIDS Day. “Marking the global awareness day, I shared the story of the boy with the blue balloon, and how I myself overcame my own misconception regarding HIV. I choose to share the story because in the work on reducing stigma and discrimination, we must first overcome our own misconceptions about HIV, says Kathrine. “If we are to work on changing other people´s attitudes toward people living with HIV, then we must start with our own attitudes. Only then can we genuinely be part of breaking down stigma and stop discrimination”.

As Red Cross Youth volunteers HIV/AIDS prevention is something we work on through spreading knowledge and awareness, among other things. As youth volunteers contributing towards reducing stigma and discrimination, to again increase social inclusion of fellow human beings living with HIV, we must begin with assessing our own attitudes.

Let´s start with crushing some false myths:
It is false that HIV is transmitted by playing with the same toys.
It is wrong that HIV is transmitted by using the same toilet.
It is wrong that HIV is transmitted from drinking from the same glass.
It is wrong that HIV is transmitted by kissing.
It is also wrong that HIV is transmitted by hugging.

These are all false myths that lead to stigma and discrimination towards fellow human beings living with HIV. These false myths also contribute to hindering people to get tested.

The Facts:
HIV is not only transmitted through sexual acts, it can also be transmitted through blood transfusions, sharing of unclean needles and mother-to-child transmission.

Increase your own knowledge to break down your own assumptions by checking out the World Health Organization´s 10 facts about HIV/AIDS. 

 

In Nepal the numbers of HIV infections are going down, from 40,723 in 2013 to 39,249 in 2014 according to the UNAIDS Country Progress Report Nepal from 2015. The numbers of AIDS related deaths are reducing due to access to ART medicines. This is positive. At the same time as the numbers are stabilizing overall at an estimated 0.20%, the transmission rates are increasing among some population groups. Therefore HIV prevention work cannot stop, as this stabilizing trend can only continue in a direction of decline when more people gain access to medicines and more people get access to information and education on sexual health. This includes reducing stigma so that persons will get tested as “an estimated 40% of people with HIV or over 14 million people remain undiagnosed and don´t know of their infection status” in the world, writes The WHO.

To reach zero HIV/Transmissions, Zero HIV related deaths, zero discrimination, access to medication then we must continuously work on breaking barriers all year round, not only on December 1st. Start with crushing myths and spreading information among your own friends. 

 

Youth Volunteers ReadY to Contribute to their own Local Community in Nepal

830 000. The six-digit number has no meaning standing alone. Alone it is just a number. But guess what, this number represent how many Red Cross Junior and Youth Volunteers wants to contribute to their own local community in Nepal. 830 000 different individual faces, over 1,6 million helping hands. This week the number of 100 was added to the total; 100 new Youth volunteers with a pumping heart for helping their community in Tanahun District, Nepal.

Establishment of new Youth Circle at Janajyoti Campus, Tanahun District. Photo: Ola Opdal.

Over 100 new volunteers from Bandipur Campus and Janajyoti Campus steps into new community working shoes.

This week over 100 new volunteers with a wish of helping their own local community, steps into a global movement that is known for addressing local humanitarian needs. Establishment of two new Youth Circles took place at Bandipur Campus and Janajyoti Campus in Tanahun District, Nepal. A Youth Circle is a group of youth volunteers organizes at schools in Nepal.  All new volunteers are now ready to contribute. Wanting to contribute is a human need every individual has. It is about feeling that you make a difference. Red Cross volunteers identify the local humanitarian needs and contribute with solutions through action in their communities, person to person, face to face. The Youth Circles in Nepal work on needs related to sanitation issues, reduction of stigma, social inclusion, young health and blood donations.

Visiter from Norwegian Red Cross encouraging volunteers to create humanitarian activities

Motivation for engagement and involvement is important for being involved in volunteer work, as we wrote about in "Number 1 on the checklist of youth-driven local humanitarian activities". Mr. Juma Ochieng Knowlden, YDEP International Coordinator from the Norwegian Red Cross, shared his story of starting out in the Red Cross movement locally as a Youth Volunteer himself. His thoughtful speech inspired the youth, while he encouraged them to create humanitarian activities for people in their own local communities. “Perhaps in 4 years, you can travel to Norway to be a Youth Delegate to teach Norwegian volunteers about how things are done in Nepal Red Cross Society”, Mr. Knowlden said enthusiastic.

 

Currently in Nepal, there are about 750 Youth Circles. In addition to that all volunteers bring their own personal values, the seven principles of the Red Cross are the most important when becoming part of the global movement; humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality. The 7 principles are drivers for our action and activities. We wish the new volunteers an inspiring and growing journey as volunteers in the Red Cross Movement.

 

 

Number 1 on the checklist of youth-driven local humanitarian activities: Motivation

Youth are the cornerstone of local humanitarian activities, and as we were holding a training on planning and reporting we were curious, why do the youth volunteers want to serve their communities?

Before the actions, there are plans to be made; the why, what and how must be asked and answered. For there to be action, there must be motivation to sit through the assessment phase, the planning phase and the implementation phase of a project or activity. Motivation is therefore number 1 on the checklist of sustainable youth-driven local humanitarian activities

Behind every action, there is a motivation for engagement and involvement
We asked some Red Cross Youth Volunteers, the cornerstone of the RC/RC movement, about their motivation to contribute to their Tanahun district communities through Red Cross;

”Since I am part of society, I am able to see many up´s and down´s. So I felt it is my responsibility to serve my society and help people in need.”
- Female, 18

”To serve people when they´re in need.”
- Male, 18

”I involve in a Red Cross due to its good work and expecting other knowledge also, and I also want to help in society. I want to have a vital role in society in every field, just like circulation of blood in a body of organisms.”
- female, 15

 

Mr. Ola Opdal leading a game with Red Cross Youth volunteers participating in a District Level training on Planning, Budget and Report-writing on November 12. 2016. Photo: Kathrine O.Flaate

Mr. Ola Opdal leading a game with Red Cross Youth volunteers participating in a District Level training on Planning, Budget and Report-writing on November 12. 2016. Photo: Kathrine O.Flaate

When the motivation is there, then plans for actions must be made. But how? 
Youth engagement and involvement in creating and implementing local humanitarian activities has a good ring to it in our ears, and yours as well? Let´s agree that it certainly does not sound like car-honking or street dogs barking at night, rather it sounds like your favourite Bollywood-movie song. It sounds good. 

Not only does it sound good, it is positive. The energy and motivation needed to create humanitarian activities can now be checked off the list needed for sustainable youth engagement. Then the next on the checklist of youth-driven local humanitarian activities is coming up with the ideas for action and how to actually turn ideas into action. How do we actually do this? Before the action, there is talk, planning and assessments to ensure that the actions are the right fit to meet the community need. To learn the nitty gritty of planning, needs assessments and report-writing we held a training with Tanahun Youth Volunteers this weekend crossing off the next step on checklist. Knowing the nitty-gritty of planning, both short-term and long term is key to sustainability so that the activities continue on, even when youth volunteers move on. Wondering what is next on the checklist of youth-driven local humanitarian activities? Continue following our work here on the blog and become our friend on Facebook - we love new friends; Kathrine and Ola

Do you want to share your motivation for being a youth volunteer? Then contact us at Facebook or send an email to Kathrine@ydep.no