The club visit was planned as part sight seeing and part Rotary work, to build on existing links with Rotary Pokhara Fishtail.
We found Nepal a beautiful and fascinating country that is faced with many challenges, particularly following the 2015 earthquake.
Objectives on Our Trip to Nepal
One of the objectives of the visit to Nepal was to seek advice and guidance regarding the appropriate vocational training element of our Vocational Training programme. To this end we met with
- Nepal Engineers Association
- Vice Chancellor and Dean of Engineering and his team from Pokhara University and
- Pokhara Chamber of Commerce and Industry PCCI.
We stayed four days at ROKPA Guest house in Kathmandu. The Guest House was not only an “oasis of calm” but part of a charity reaching out to street children and women in Kathmandu. The site included a children’s home and vocational training centre linked to the Swiss School of Tourism and Hospitality. The main aim of this college is “Leadership quality so that students are able to work in the international market with high effectiveness.”
Kathmandu was very crowded and polluted yet still offered cultural gems such as three Durbar Squares, the Boudhanath Stupa and the Swayambhunath Stupa.
The Colin started our visit by attending the Gurka Rembrance Day service at the British Embassey, followed by a visit to Nepal Engineers Association.
During our time in Kathmandu we visited PEEDA (People, Energy & Environment Development Association) to find out more about joint work with Bristol University to help save lives lost due to internal pollution caused by poorly ventilated wood stove cooking, which is prevalent in most rural Nepalese communities.
As a result, we are working on a pilot project between PEEDA, Bristol University and Rotary Pokhara Fishtail to introduce electric induction cooking to a rural village in the Pokhara vicinity.
Our Rotarian Derrick R. with some school children in Nepal
Travel to Pokhara in Nepal
After Kathmandu we travelled to Pokhara, Nepal’s second city, and were treated ‘Royally’ by our Rotary hosts at Fishtail.
We attended a Rotary meeting in Pokhara where we provided a short presentation on Bristol and our Rotary work in both England and joint projects around the world. We then spent a very enjoyable couple of hours over supper and drinks at a local hotel.
BBRC has recently donated funds to help build an extension at Prithvirupa School and we were privileged to see the building work in action and to meet the lovely pupils and dedicated staff at the school, a very memorable experience.
After this we went to Pokhara University to meet with the Dean of Engineering and his whole team to find out how we could work together to support degree level vocational training in Nepal.
We are already supporting one underprivileged student to fund his four-year degree course at Pokhara University, and we had a lovely hour or so meeting Ashish and his fellow students.
The next day we were treated to a fantastic trip and lunch at the Rupakot Resort with stunning views of the Annapurna Mountain Range. We were meant to visit the day before, but the President of Bangladesh was visiting that day. We were able to enjoy a wonderful lunch at the same table as the president the day before.
The same day we met with the Pokhara Chamber of Commerce to learn more about challenges facing businesses in the area. We heard that the major challenges were lack of accessible funding, retention of quality employees, infrastructure and pollution.
We are currently considering on how we can work with Rotary Pokhara Fishtail to help alleviate some of the problems over the longer term with sustainable solutions.
Our Rotarian Colin S. with a student audience on a visit to Nepal.
Visit to the Bharabhuri School in Nepal
There was also a visit to Bharabhuri School to follow up on Rotary support to the Pahar Trust that helps feed schoolchildren in this rural community.
The rest of the visit was then a sight seeing trip with many enjoyable moments, including watching the sun rise over the mountains at Sarangkot Hill, visiting the Peace Stupa and Mountain Museum in Pokhara and then on to Bandipur for trekking and a stay in a beautiful preserved village, where Rotary was also highly visible.
We then arrived a Chitwan National Park and stayed at an Eco Hotel on the river bordering the park. A two day stay included river and jeep safaris to see local wildlife including Rhinos and Crocodiles although a tiger sighting proved to be elusive.
We left Nepal feeling tired but happy that we had been able to see such a beautiful country and some of our own projects in action. You can never truly learn about anywhere unless you visit the place and we will be working to put in place plans to support Nepal with a clearer understanding of the needs and wants of the Nepalese people in our areas of focus.
Author: Derrick Royall
Chair BBRC International & Foundation Committee