What is Sex?

What is sex? Our Youth Volunteers wanted to learn more about sex and sexuality, so these last weeks we have had trainings on the topic of sexual health. When is it right to have sex? And what can you do to show that you want it or that you don’t want it? The Youth Volunteers discussed how to understand and respect one’s own boundaries as well as others’ when it comes to sexuality. We did some games to illustrate the importance of consent and the effectiveness of transmitting. We also practiced using condoms correctly on vegetables!

A representative from the Blue Diamond Society in Pokhara came to our training, to share his story and give a lecture on LGBTI’s situation in Nepal. The youth learned a lot about gender identities and sexual differences. 

A  midwife and nurse from Damauli Hospital also visited us in the District Level Training to talk about contraceptives, sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy. She was also able to answer questions from our curious volunteers.

In a Training of Trainers the Youth Volunteers prepared to hold the Sexual Health Training in their own Youth Circles. They did a great job facilitating the sessions, conveying complicated topics to their peers. We are impressed by their courage to stand in front of others talking about sexuality and sex.

Love,

Lise and Liv

 

Hipp, Hipp, Hurra!

17th of May is Norway’s National Day, marking the day we got our own constitution in 1814. As Norwegians this is one of the most important days of the year, so we had to celebrate of course! We invited staff from office and youth volunteers for a party. We held a short presentation about 17th of May and showed photos and videos from Norway before singing the Norwegian national anthem. Then one of the youth volunteers danced for us, as he is one of the top dancers in Damauli.

For food, we had sausages in rotis, as close to hot dogs  or “pølse” as we could get. With help from some of our volunteers, we made Norwegian waffles as well, but unfortunately, the electricity went halfway in the making.

In true Red Cross Youth “spirit”, we played some participatory games with all our guests. Later there was dance and songs accompanied by a typical Nepali drum.

 

We had so much fun!

Thanks to everyone who came and made this day even more special :)

Love,

Lise and Liv

 

 

Peer Education in Sindhupalchok

We visited Sindhupalchok District for four days with four Youth Volunteers, Suresh Pantha, Armita Thapa, Prakash Nepali and Poornima Thapa from Tanahun. The idea behind the visit was to motivate and inspire local youth volunteerism and involvement. Norwegian Red Cross has been working in Sindhupalchok District ever since the earthquake last year, as the District was the most affected, with 95% of the houses damaged and more than 3000 lives lost. After a meeting with the Norwegian Country Representative and our National Contact Person, we agreed that it would be a good idea with a cooperation between the youth volunteers in Tanahun and Sindhupalchok.

At Chautara Multiple Campus, we established a Youth Circle and conducted Red Cross Movement Dissemination, the latter also given at three higher secondary schools. In addition to this we had a long meeting with the Red Cross District Chapter were we held a presentation about youth involvement and discussed how we can activate youth volunteers. Representatives from Sindhupalchok District Chapter told us about the earthquake damage and how the Red Cross has responded, by emergency aid and recovery work.

The Youth Volunteers from Tanahun did a fantastic job in facilitating the disseminations. Every evening we had meetings were we evaluated the day and prepared for the next.  It was a true pleasure seeing how fast they developed and improved. We were well received in each school and the facilitators managed to keep the children and youth interested during the sessions. Most importantly, we felt that the students became motivated to be a part of Red Cross and make a change in their community.

We would like to say a big thank you to Raj Kumar Thapa from the Sindhupalchok District Chapter, who truly supported us during the whole trip and was part of making it a success! Also a big thank you to Carl Morten Ødegård for seeing the potential in youth volunteerism and for wanting to establish a cooperation between the Youth Delegate Exchange Programme and NorCross.

Love,

Lise and Liv

Earthquake Response

On April 25th, it was one year since an earthquake with the magnitude of 7.8 hit Nepal. Two weeks after, on May 12th, a powerful after shake stroke again with a magnitude of 7.3. Almost 9000 people died and the disaster affected the whole country.

Working with Red Cross Youth in Nepal, we have gotten to know two young volunteers who contributed as Red Cross volunteers in their own ways, before, during and after the earthquake.

Suraj Ghimire (22) was in Sankhuwasabha Distrikt, in the eastern part of Nepal, as part of a Red Cross training April 25th, 2015. He was eating lunch when he first felt the shakings. His glass of water fell down and the hotel owner shouted: “Earthquake!”. Suraj followed the procedure of “duck, cover and hold” and seated himself under the table with the other guests. When the shaking finally stopped, they ran out and discovered that the Red Cross building was partially damaged, but luckily, all the participants were safe. Sankhuwasabha was not one of the most effected Districts. Still, the earthquake was so powerful and followed by so many after shakes that Red Cross encouraged everyone in the area to sleep outside. Together with other Red Cross volunteers, Suraj established emergency shelter for thousands of people within one hour using tarpaulins and tents.

Two days after the earthquake, Suraj received a phone call from the head quarter of Nepal Red Cross Society, and was deployed to Ramechhap District as a part of the National Disaster Response Team. They conducted an initial rapid assessment of the damage after the earthquake, in cooperation with local volunteers. After collecting data from households, schools and health services, it became clear that the immediate need was tarpaulins because no one could sleep inside due to damaged houses and security.

Kunal Mishra (20) is a Red Cross volunteer through his Red Cross Youth Circle in Kathmandu. Right after the earthquake, he helped distribute tarpaulins and food in different parts of the Kathmandu valley. Then he was mobilized by the head quarter in Nepal Red Cross Society to give psychosocial support to the earthquake victims, both in Kathmandu and in Dolakha District. Kunal worked from 8 in the morning to 20 at night to meet the high demands and enormous needs. During daytime, he walked from household to household, often many hours a day in remote areas where the only possible way ahead is by foot. In night time he wrote reports. Kunal met people who had lost everything, and took his time to listen to their stories, and in that way making a sad situation a little bit better. He describes how he made many people smile and laugh again.

To be young in an emergency is not easy. For Suraj, one of the hardest things was not being able to call his parents the first days because all the phone lines were down. With their knowledge and expertise as Red Cross volunteers, both Suraj and Kunal had a strong wish to help those affected. Suraj says that he and five other friends started to help immediately and that many other youths did the same. The youth motivated and encouraged each other and helped with the distribution of tarpaulins and other emergency aid. Still, according to Suraj's experience, most of the volunteers were localized in the Kathmandu valley, and it was harder to find volunteers, both youth and in general, in Ramechhap District. The situation within each family was bad and several of the youths did not get permission by their parents to leave their homes. In the Kathmandu valley, Kunal experienced many active young volunteers who worked hard and effective. He firmly states that youth can contribute with positive, high energy and a lot of courage. Kunal himself is satisfied with his own effort and happy that he as a young person were able to contribute when it was needed the most.

In the time after the earthquake, Kunal has continued his studies in biochemistry and been an active volunteer by contributing as First Aider at different events. Last week he was hired with a 2 year contract with Nepal Red Cross Society as a Social Mobilizer in an ERO (Emergency Response Operation) project. Suraj, on the other hand, went from volunteer to employee in September last year. He is one out of ten employees in Tanahun District that works under the CORE (Community Resilience) programme. They work closely together with the VDCs (Village Development Committee) and communities in the District to strengthen their preparedness capacity.

For us, it is inspiring to see and hear of the efforts and courage of Our two Nepali friends. Nepal Red Cross Society are Lucky to have you!

Jaya Red Cross!

Lise and Liv

 

Leadership

Leadership development of youth has been one of our focus areas in Nepal. During the last weeks, we have had a district level training, training of trainers and school orientations on this topic. The goal is for the participants to understand how leadership is connected with communication. It is important to know yourself and your group members in order to be a good leader. In Red Cross, we want to develop young leaders who take responsibility and create a positive change in their life and in their community.

In the District Level Leadership Training, we had a guest lecturer from the organization Om Shanti. He showed the participants how to use yoga and meditation as methods for self-management and mental focus. We had a session about communication where we had the whisper game and group work. The participants also learned how to conduct a meeting within their Youth Circle Committee from Ram Datta Poudel Sir, one of the main trainers.

During the training for trainers, Lise explained the manual and showed the new facilitators her own personal road map. This is a map of what you consider as meaningful events in your life. The reason behind this exercise is to acknowledge and be proud of your experiences and understand how they make you the person you are today. When listening to the story of others, you also get to know the people you are working with.

We are now having a leadership orientation at each school where the new facilitators are conducting the training. All of them have done really well so far and are making us very happy and proud! At the pictures below you can see some of them in action from 6 different schools.

 

Thank you to all the great facilitators and participants!

Lise and Liv

Travelling in Nepal

I have had an eventful Easter Holiday in Nepal with my friend Masha, and would like to share some of our moments in this blogpost. We started with two days in Kathmandu, using the first day to visit the Garden of Dreams and Swayambhunath (Monkey Temple).

The next day we celebrated Holi – the Festival of Colors. Holi is a festival celebrating spring and love by blessing each other with color. It is a Hindu festival that originates from the death of the evil demon “Holika”; it is therefore also a celebration of the victory of good over evil. Masha and I were lucky to be invited for lunch at the home of one of my colleagues to start the celebration with his family.

After that, we walked in the middle of the main street in Kathmandu. Here people were everywhere, some playing music, but mostly walking with colors that they put on each other’s faces, t-shirt and body while saying “Happy Holi”. The crowd is the largest, most chaotic I have ever seen and everyone was fair game regarding the color blessings. It was truly an experience for life, but for two Norwegian girls it became overwhelming with all the people and physical contact from strangers so we headed for our Hotel quite quickly.    

The next part of our trip took place in Tanahun District. This was refreshing after the hectic life of Kathmandu, also considering that Kathmandu is one of the most polluted cities in the world. We went on a yogic trekking visiting two local villages. A yogic trekking meant practicing yoga early in the morning together with a Yoga Guru (teacher) and walking for a couple of hours each day. Unfortunately, the weather was not on our side, the fog hiding the Himalayas from us.

Pictures from the first village, Nayagaun.

Pictures from the second village, Dagam.

It was a unique experience, staying with the local families and eating local Nepali food all made from their own harvest – as organic as it can get.

In Nepal most of the farming is done by manual labor and with animals. The women often carry heavy loads on their back with grass for the animals or other items. We saw young girls and boys with a knife in their belt at their back used to cut down grass. No one in the villages had direct access to water in their home. In the second village we stayed in, the closest water tap was a 15 minutes’ walk from the house. When making food they use cooking gas brought from the nearest city, biogas or wood. The way of life follows the animals and the sun. Normal bedtime is around 9 o’clock and you wake up around 5. The national line for electricity is now being cut 13 hours out of 24 each day and there is no generator in the villages as in some places in the larger cities.

When we came back from trekking, we spent the evening and the next morning in Pokhara; sightseeing, eating pizza and getting a delicious massage, before heading to my hometown Damauli. I have realized how lucky we are here with a local line that only cuts the power 3 hours a day. In Damauli we visited the Red Cross office and went for a long walk around the area followed by homemade dinner and rest.

On our way back to Kathmandu, it had finally rained and we were able to see the amazing Himalayas from the bus. We also experienced a very common part of Nepal; traffic jam. Close to Kathmandu, our bus were stuck for almost two hours. When we finally arrived, we ate a good meal and did more sightseeing and shopping before travelling back to our homes the next day.

I would encourage everyone to visit the beautiful country that is “hamro Nepal” (our Nepal). :)

Love,

Liv

Second Training - First Aid

Would you know what to do during an emergency?

Red Cross is often associated with medical care in time of need. Therefore, some essential skills are good to know as a Red Cross Youth Volunteer. Knowing First Aid means to be better prepared in case of an emergency, when someone around you is injured. First Aid is also part of implementing humanity, by preserving life, preventing painful conditions from worsening and promoting recovery.

The Red Cross First Aid Training aims to give the volunteers the confidence and skills they will need to help in an emergency. The training course in Nepal lasts for three days and the content is impressive, covering a series of treatments for a range of conditions.

Extensive bleeding, stroke, fractures, unconsciousness, unresponsive condition and non-respiration, wounds from fire, poisoning and snakebite are some of the conditions they handle in the course.

Our volunteers did a great job during our district level training, participating actively in all the practical procedures and partaking in discussions on the critical situations one might face in everyday life. They got their certificates and are now first aiders!

We ended the training with serving Norwegian waffles to all the participants and the guests for the closing ceremony. It was miTho chha!

Stay safe!

L&L

The Story of an Idea

We have had a District Level Training for two days on the Red Cross Movement and IHL – International Humanitarian Law. Then we gave a shorter version of the training to the 8 youth circles at each School. By using participatory methods and games, we made the training interactive.

We told the history of Red Cross through the video: “The Story of an Idea” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9bsmnuJU-o.  It shows how the founder of Red Cross, Henry Dunant, came up with the idea of creating an independent and universal humanitarian organization. We talked about the Red Cross emblems and explained how the organization consists of three parts, ICRC, IFRC and National Societies, working closely to ensure a high level of professionalism and effectivity that we must contain in order to reach the people in need as fast as possible. Then we gave the participants a key word each, making them retell the story together.

The Red Cross has 7 fundamental principles that guides all our work. For the youth volunteers to understand them better we used a “principle puzzle” where they in groups had to connect the right principle with the right picture.

The last topic of the training was addressing voluntary motivation. What makes us motivated as volunteers and willing to stay in the Red Cross? The youth wrote down some important points, like helping others, developing yourself and being useful and acknowledged as a resource.

Namaste,
L & L

Youth as Agents of Behavioural Change

At the National Junior/Youth Seminar in Rupandehi there were representatives from more than 50 out of Nepal’s 75 districts present. Many from the staff at Headquarter came to show their support to the programme, including the President and Secretary General of Nepal Red Cross Society. The first day begun with an opening ceremony that lasted for three hours, one hour more than planned because all of the important people, different sponsors and contributors were given a chance to speak. The junior and youth volunteers participated mainly with entertainment, through performing cultural dance and music and helped distribute tea and snacks to participants. After the opening ceremony it was scheduled for sessions on different topics in one of the classrooms.

We were invited to hold a presentation on the topic of “Youth as Agents of Behavioural Change” and talk about our experiences from the Norwegian Red Cross. Our session was scheduled for 30 min the first day, but due to the fact that everything were delayed we did not get a chance to finish our speech. This was quite disappointing for us, as we had been working hard on it. Still we believe we managed to get our message across, as the response from the youth was overwhelmingly positive. In our speech we introduced “The Ladder of Participation” which is a tool made by sociologist Roger Hart, to analyse the degree of youth participation in a project, program and in decisions.

This is the ladder shortly described:
8) Projects or programs are initiated by young people and decision-making is shared between young people and adults. These projects empower young people while at the same time enabling them to access and learn from the life experience and expertise of adults. We can describe this rung of the ladder as youth/adult partnership.
7) Young people initiate and direct a project or program. Adults are involved in a supportive role. This rung of the ladder can be called youth led activism.
6) Occurs when projects or programs are initiated by adults, but the decision-making is shared with the young people.
5) Young people give advice on projects or programs designed and run by adults. The young people are informed about how their input will be used and the other outcomes of the decisions made by adults. Youth advisory councils are used here.  
4) Young people are assigned a specific role and informed about how and why they are being involved. Community youth boards can be used for this.
3) Young people appear to be given a voice, but in fact have little or no choice about what they do or how they participate. This rung of the ladder reflects adultism, which means a situation where adults are fully in charge and unmotivated by young influence.
2) Young people are used to help or “strengthen” a cause in a relatively indirect way. Here the adults are not pretending that the cause is inspired by young people. This ladder also reflects adultism.
1) Adults use young people to support causes and pretend that the causes are inspired by young people. This is the lowest step of the ladder which also reflects adultism.

Hart's Ladder of Participation shows young people-initiated, shared decisions with adults (8) as the top form of young people's participation. This is then followed immediately by young people-initiated and directed participation (7 & 6). This is a somewhat controversial issue for many people working with and around young people. Essentially, the debate is which of these levels of participation is actually the most meaningful? Many believe that shared decision-making is most beneficial to both young people and adults. Others believe that young people are most empowered when they are making decisions without the influence of adults. Most often, this does not exclude adults but reduces their role to that of support. Both arguments have valuable points. Ultimately, it is up to each group to determine which form of decision-making that best fits with the groups' needs.

To demonstrate, we opened up for discussion in the audience. Both teachers and youth volunteers participated and offered their opinions. They told us about their experience in their local Red Cross communities and ranged their participation according to the ladder. Many felt that the youths participation in their local Red Cross were on rung 5 of the ladder. Bringing up this topic in a crowd like this, sparked an interesting discussion on NRCS ability to utilize and acknowledge youth initiative. Several youth volunteers from different districts came to us after the presentation to discuss the topic further and asking us to send them the presentation. The Secretary General of NRCS contributed in our speech and translated the ladder of participation in Nepali, emphasising its importance and thanking us for introducing it. Unfortunately, he had to leave right after the translation and did not get a chance to sit through the rest of our presentation.

We have all heard many times that it is important to empower the youth because they are the future. But youth are more importantly our present.  The freshness, hope and energy of our present time. How can we utilize this energy and make sure that youth are seen, heard and acknowledged? How can we empower youth and youthfulness in the Red Cross? To empower means to give power, to enable and to give authority to someone.

In Red Cross we are guided by our seven fundamental principles. The first one of them is humanity. The principle of humanity teaches us respect for human beings. It compels us to alleviate human suffering and to treat everyone humanly no matter who they are. Through empathy, we can help others who are suffering from both physical and psychosocial pain.

For youth to be empowered and to lead this process, the Red Cross suggests to use non-formal ways of learning. Education is usually associated with formal ways of teaching. But to educate actually means to guide out the knowledge that is already inside. Real learning does not happen by dictation or imposing. We do not want to just convey knowledge to youth. We want to create a habit of questioning things and searching for alternatives together with peers. If you can feel something and connect to it, the learning is much more powerful and it can lead to action. We change minds by touching the heart. A peer is someone who is your equal, a friend, a fellow mate of about the same age. Peer Education means teaching between peers, using each other as resources for new understanding, ideas and learning. Together youth can find ways of influencing change in society.

Red Cross wants to aim at empowerment of youth, by having youth at the core and in the front of the projects, as learners, as peer educators and as agents of change. Change is a process, not an event. It takes time to make change. What do young people need in order to be empowered? They need training, inspiration and credit. The Youth Delegate Exchange Programme is one of many ways the Red Cross uses to strive to fulfil these needs. For more information about this topic, please visit http://www.ifrc.org/en/what-we-do/principles-and-values/youth-as-agents-of-behavioural-change-yabc/. We would also recommend everyone to watch Katrien Beeckman, Head of the Principles and Values Department in IFRC, talk about Youth as Agents of Behavioural Change: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ttrvSQpA1JQ

Thank you for reading!

Much love from Lise and Liv :)

Karyakrams

In our last blogpost, we used the word “karyakram”, which is the Nepali word for “program”. It is an important word to know because every occasion is a “karyakram” and to get anything done and implemented you first need a “karyakram”. We have also learned that all “karyakrams” are somewhat similar. First, you preferably need a colorful tent. Then you need the most important people (men), to sit inside the tent. Most of these special guests will also get the chance to give one speech each in the opening ceremony. For that, you need a podium and a microphone. At the back of the tent, there is a banner with information about the current “karyakram”.  If it is a large “karyakram”, you will get the opportunity to see cultural dance, usually performed by young girls, and maybe singing performances as well. During Red Cross “karyakrams” there will definitely be a picture of Henry Dunant and he will usually get a flower garland and be given tikka. Tikka is red powder put on the forehead; it means victory and is often used in religious or ceremonial occasions. All the special guests who are seated inside the tent also get a flower garland; sometimes they will get a scarf and some flowers as well.

The end-result looks something like this:

Thank you for reading our blog!

Namaste from
Lise and Liv

 

Various karyakram

The last weeks we have been busy forming new Red Cross Youth Circles at different schools as well as continuing with the Street Drama activity. Many of the schools organized a great welcoming for us with traditional dancing and singing. Our boss from Norway, Juma Sir, came to visit us in Damauli for two days. It was nice meeting him again.


We also used several days cleaning the meeting hall in the Red Cross Office; with great help from some of our younger colleagues :) Our reason for doing this was to give the Youth Volunteers a proper place to have their meetings, trainings and social gatherings.

Our last day off we spent travelling to Pokhara, where we were invited for tea at our colleague Hari Sir’s home.

Thank you for reading our blog. Feel free to share or comment!

Lise and Liv

My Cup of Tea

If there is one thing we have learned in Nepal it is the importance of tea. You can not have a meeting without tea. You can not have a snack (kajaa) without tea. Breakfast is tea. And if you want to socialize, then go and drink tea. There are many types of tea, but the most common is milk tea with A LOT of sugar.

When it comes to food, we really miss our Norwegian brown bread. We have found that “roti” is the most similar. So almost every day we eat 5 rotis and vegetables for lunch in the same shop. The couple working there are always welcoming us with a big smile and we try to communicate with them in the little Nepali we know.

Cheers!

Damauli Happenings

After our Christmas holiday we have been planning our next five months here in Tanahun.
In Nepal, Red Cross Youth volunteers are either connected to colleges, which is most common, or in a community group. Tanahun District has two Youth Circles in colleges and our goal is to recruit at least 7 or 8 circles.

These pictures were taken during the formation of a new Youth Circle in Chandi Devi Higher Secondary School.

We have also been participating in different programs arranged by our District Chapter. For ten days now there has been a festival in Damauli. This involves an amusement park, shopping market, a concert stage with music and dance and parades through the city were people of Tanahun wear their traditional clothing. One of the days, the Red Cross Tanahun District Chapter organized a Blood Donation Program were many people volunteered to give blood.

Saturday was the Earthquake Day and Nepal Red Cross Society marks this day in different ways across the country. Here in Tanahun we had a First Aid Demonstration in the festival area.

In addition to this, we have worked with a Street Drama Group for the youth volunteers that we started in December. A recurring theme in meetings with the youth volunteers was an experience of a “generation gap” in the society. They explained that adolescent emotions and challenges are not easily shared with parents and older generations, leading to frustration and insecurity among youth. They hesitate to discuss problems with their parents, feeling a breach in the understanding between the generations’ different references to culture and tradition. The youth volunteers came up with the idea to make a role play that deals with these issues, in order to express a youth perspective and talk openly to a larger audience.

We want to say a big thank you to our Local Contact Person, Shiva Kaji Sir, the staff at Tanahun District Chapter and the youth volunteers.

Love,
Lise and Liv

 

Youth Meeting in Tanahun

We are back in Nepal!
Our new Host District is Tanahun and we live in beautiful Damauli.

Yesterday we had our first meeting with some of the youth we will be working with. Our Local Contact Person helped us to arrange the meeting together with a couple of Red Cross teacher-sponsor volunteers. The President of Tanahun District Chapter as well as the District Education Officer were also present. We introduced ourselves, the Youth Delegate Exchange Programme and what the Norwegian Red Cross does in Norway. The participants came from 8 different schools were they now will be forming new Red Cross Youth Circles. They shared with us what it is like to grow up and be a youth in their community. Together we identified needs and discussed what kind of activities the Red Cross Youth can do to meet some of the challenges they face.

 

We would also like to share som pictures from Damauli.

Love from L & L


Street Mediation

After our course weekends on street mediation, we continued to work on this topic in Akershus. We had the pleasure of attending a workshop with Peter Harris. He is known for his acting and roleplay methods focusing on the psychological aspects of human behaviour. Using masks, he illustrates ways in which we all protect ourselves and react to other people. In his workshop we worked with challenging behaviour of youth, group dynamics and the importance of belonging. We got to try on his masks and practice how to deal with different roles.

Inspired by Peter Harris, we made our own street mediation forum together with two volunteers from Akershus. The participants were volunteers from the street mediation activity. They got to share their experience with each other and plan how to further develop the activity in their local community. The volunteers came up with great ideas and games during the forum. They also had to make a roleplay, demonstrating some of the course theory.

In the first level of street mediation, you learn how a conflict escalates, to identify your triggers and ways to take care of yourself. You also learn how to deal with a conflict using the “giraffe language”. Being a giraffe means that you try to get an overview of the situation, listen and take your time. Your big heart guides you to care and speak your mind respectfully. The opposite of the giraffe is the wolf who aggressively attacks from a selfish point of view.

The second level of street mediation goes deeper into the mediator role and how to be a better communicator. To be a mediator in a conflict means being neutral, not taking sides, letting the involved parties finding a solution on their own. The final level is where you learn how to be an instructor in street mediation. All three levels use fun and creative games and the courses are based on participatory methods.  

A big thank you to the street mediation coordinator in Akershus, Eva Walicki, for trusting us with this task.

Sexual Health

Sexuality is an important part of identity and for Red Cross Youth to be relevant in young people’s lives we work with this topic. Many youth experience insecurity and stigma related to their identity, sexuality and sexual health. The sexual education provided in schools are usually focused on transmittable infections and contraceptives. In Red Cross Youth, we discuss boundaries, social norms and gender identity to strengthen youth’s ability to take good care of themselves and others.

We held a course for 15 Red Cross Youth volunteers in Vestfold on sexual health. It was a diverse group with youths from 15 to 23 years of age coming from three different local branches. We started out by discussing how to talk about sexuality in neutral terms according to the Red Cross Principles. The youth had strong opinions and views in discussions on gender roles and sexual orientation. Through games we explored ways to give or not give consent to sexual approaches. They really liked this short video about consent: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQbei5JGiT8. Their knowledge was tested at the end of the course through a “sexy quiz”. They also got to practice the proper use of condoms on dildos. Lastly, they worked with planning activities related to sexual health in their local communities. They want to arrange quiz nights for the volunteers, offer sexual education in schools and use stands and social media to bring awareness on sexual health.

 

Thank you to the youth volunteers in Vestfold for a great day!

Lise and Liv

Local Youth Branches

Our most important task in Akershus Red Cross is to strengthen the five Youth Boards, Enebakk, Bærum, Skedsmo, Oppegård and Vestby/Ås. We work with improving their structure, management of volunteers, planning of activities, applying for funds and dividing the responsibilities within the board. We also emphasized the importance of keeping records of economy and volunteers, and helped answering their questions. The meetings were productive and we are impressed by their creativity and commitment.

The youth volunteers in Akershus work with integration of immigrants, both in reception centres for refugees and in the local community. Other activities they have are awareness campaigns, arranging multicultural events and a visitor service in retirement homes. We have also had meetings with the District Youth Board in Akershus. It is interesting to get to know different parts of the organization and how they cooperate.

Thank you for reading our blog:)

Contributing at Conferences

Akershus Red Cross has a twinning project with a district in Lebanon, Bcharre. Three guests from Bcharre Red Cross Youth came to Norway to participate at the annual Red Cross Central Youth Conference. We spent a whole day with our guests before the conference, showing them around Oslo and getting to know each other.

The Central Youth Conference is a national meeting held during a weekend. About 150 youth volunteers from all of our 19 districts come together to elect the new national youth board and to set the agenda for the activities for the coming year. The conference is a democratic process that allows everyone to express their opinion. The volunteers from Lebanon came to observe this process, and our task was to translate all the meetings.

The International Department of Norwegian Red Cross organized the “Resilience - for Real” Conference in Oslo the 30th October. More than 300 participants were invited from the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement, the UN, European Union, NGOs, universities, research institutions and the private sector. The conference focused on how to strengthen the resilience of communities exposed to conflicts and disasters. Prior to the conference, we volunteered at Gardermoen airport welcoming guests, and during we registered and assisted guests. It was a great opportunity and we were happy to be a part of some of the lectures and sessions.

Love,
Lise & Liv

Training and Volunteering in Akershus, Norway

Our first weekend in Norway we attended a Street Mediation Course. This lasted for two weekends and was about how to handle conflict and how to respond to challenging situations. It was held by our colleagues, the Youth Delegates from Colombia working in Tromsø, Diego and Henry. Together with Ronchester, Board member of the Red Cross Youth District in Akershus, they facilitated a great course.  

Volunteers from the Red Cross visitor service in Nes, Akershus attended a tablet course held by Telenor. We helped instruct and assist the trainers from Telenor in teaching the participants how to use a tablet. The local newspaper wrote an article about the course. You can read it here:
http://www.raumnes.no/--nsker--lre-meg-data

Cecilia Valenzuela, our Local Contant Person in Akershus Red Cross District.

Cecilia Valenzuela, our Local Contant Person in Akershus Red Cross District.

The 21st of October was the Global Dignity Day. We were supervisors in three different high schools, facilitating in the classrooms for working with the students on the topic of dignity. The students shared their experiences with each other and hopefully their awareness of the meaning of dignity were increased through this session.

L & L

From Nepal to Norway

After five weeks in Kathmandu, we traveled back to Oslo on September 14, hoping to see Nepal again soon.  

Before coming to Nepal we already knew about the political unrest in the Terai region that have been going on for some months. Everyone expected that the unrest would resolve after the constitution was in place in late September. We saw celebrations in the streets of Kathmandu, but in Terai the political parties were not satisfied and the protests continued.

The Indian government has a responsibility for the difficulties in Nepal. They want to influence the political decisions and for this reason they have blocked the food supplies, gas and petroleum coming into Nepal. The shortage is felt in Kathmandu as well, traffic is reduced, buses are cramped and the taxi and bus fares are more than doubled.

In addition to this, the biggest annual festival Dashain started in the beginning of October. During the festival people travel home to their villages and families to celebrate and most of the stores, schools and public sector is closed. Many of the youths that we had started to work with also travelled home and had holiday. Therefore, it was not much left for us to do in Kathmandu, and the Red Cross decided to send us home to work with Red Cross Youth in Norway. We monitor the situation in Nepal and look forward to go back. In the meantime, you can continue to follow our blog to see what we do in Norway.  

Lise & Liv