Travel Log: 2075/2018 Follow-Up Trip, Adapting and Planning for the Future

This years follow up trip with the girls was really different to last year.
Firstly, as planned, we decided to do all of the menstrual cup donations and trainings during the first trip to Achham in the Spring. We wanted to use the September trip solely for the “follow ups”, with more time for the menstrual cup users to identify any issues with their cups as well as detect any changes to the chhaupadi tradition.
Secondly, we decided that after the experiences of the last two years, the most effective choice for the project was to hire only Achhami women to work on the project. As we wanted to visit more places at the same time, at the beginning of the follow up trip we did two days of intensive training with six new Achhami Trainers and six of our Mentors in villages. Our mentors are older cup users that have been -or will be- helping us as volunteers.
Finally, for first time in our Projects history, we completed a program in every village for all its members, not only women.
Thanks to a collaboration with the Nepali NGO Photo Circle, we were able to showcase the film ‘Mira‘, about the runner Mira Rai. We showed the film in every village as a way to empower villagers, especially girls, to help them to see that even if they are from very remote areas, they can become what they want.
On the first of September, we left to travel to Mangalsen. On the Kathmandu team was Beatriz San Roman, Spanish Menstrual Therapist and Associate from be artsy; Anju Mahato and Yamkala Khatri, staff nurses; and myself, Clara Garcia i Ortés, Founder and Project Manager of be artsy. Once there, we meet our volunteers and new Project Coordinators: Tejana, Manisha, Sunita, and the rest of the mentors and new trainers.
Over two very intense days, we trained our new Trainers and mentors how to conduct trainers themselves within villages.
However, we know that these trainers will not be enough. From the coming January until mid-April, we will conduct the Project in six municipalities (18 villages). During this time, we’ll be in Achham to conduct more trainings and prepare for the Project.
To select Trainers, we had a great amount of help from Pashupati Kunwar, an Adviser from Samabikas NGO. Next year,  we may work collaboratively with this Achhami NGO! Let’s see!
After finishing up in Mangalsen, we began to venture out to the villages for the follow ups. Three volunteer Mentors accompanied us to the villages to help ease our arrival and connect with the girls there.
We did the school girls follow up together with a play to show how unique and beautiful every one of them is. We concluded our follow up with the women’s group by showing the movie ‘Mira’.
In the first village, we tried to do this outside, but we had problems with electricity and people wanting to go home early. So, in the next villages, we used either class rooms or halls to show several screenings of the film, from 12 to 5pm. A minimum of six times in every village! (I have seen the film a minimum of 30 times, and it was in Nepali without subtitles.)
After the film we served fruits, &tea, or banana lassi, without using any plastic. Instead, we used tree leaf plates and paper cups! It would have been easy to serve cookies and juice, but we didn’t want to generate too much garbage. Around 1,700 people attended our screenings, which would have been a lot of plastic! We feel like we made the best choice with healthy snacks, and low waste options. 
People loved the film ‘Mira’, and said that they found it really inspiring. Many also congratulated us on our work in the villages.
It was really inspiring, too, how our Mentors were empowered to continue to support the Project in larger capacities and  were able to confidently talk in public within villages that they didn’t know.
When we finished the follow ups, we saw more than ever the need to work from within Achham, not from Kathmandu, particularly to coordinate all of the trainings that help prepare Trainers and Mentors to work on the Project.
We have looked at how it will be possible for our volunteer Mentors to continue with their studies through classes 11 and 12, as well as assist with the Project. We understand that it is difficult for them as they must have a room in Mangalsen, but it is so expensive for their families. We decided to offer to sponsor them in “exchange”· of their help!
We sponsor a room for the three girls in Mangalsen, as well as pay for extra English classes and assist with food, and they help us to coordinate and prepared for the Project. The idea for the future is do the same with next years Mentors. We will analyse the financial situation of every volunteer, to determine those not able to continue with their studies and willing to take on the challenge to study and act as Mentors.
One year of studies can delay their marriage by two years, and that is important! We want the girls in school, to be able to learn and have every opportunity for the future!
We will update you soon about the results of the follow up trip! The cups are working well in combination with the trainings to address chhaupadi, and the girls that are using them are really happy. We know that we are on the right track, and look forward to increasing our efforts next year!

(Photos & Video at the bottom)

Text & Photos ©  Clara Garcia Ortés ,  Fujifilm TX20, Text Correction: Kristy Davis

West Nepal girls need this kind of program. And we need help to continue the project!

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