During the spring of 2016 Dhanisha Bharadia spent three months volunteering in Kiteni, Nepal, with ICS charity Raleigh, thanks to a £300 Individual Volunteer Grant awarded to her by the Jack Petchey Foundation.
Their project focused on teaching the principles of WASH, which stands for Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene, to the local community. However, before they could begin implementing the programme they first had to undertake the challenging task of collecting data from the village to understand what locals already knew about WASH. Dhanisha and her group did this by conducting household questionnaires and focus group discussions with community members, and then created a report, outlining the best way to implement the programme in the community.
As well as teaching the village the WASH principles, Dhanisha and her group held various community event days. Litter Picking Day raised awareness about the effects litter has on the environment and they spent a day collecting litter with members of the village. On World Water Day they encouraged the community to store water when they could. This was vital as at certain times of the year the village’s primary water source would dry up, meaning some of the villagers would have to travel to get water. They also put on shows to raise awareness about water purification, water storage, and brushing teeth.
On World Health Day, Dhanisha and her team taught the children of the village the six step method of hand-washing, and also held a menstrual hygiene seminar for the women of the village. As Dhanisha’s team was stationed at Kiteni during the children’s school holiday, they also held two sports days, 16 English classes for the children, four adult English classes, and celebrated the traditional Holi and Shivrati festivals with the community.
The programme was a success, as the community members took on board much of the advice the volunteers offered and were more motivated to do things that would have a positive impact on the village, especially taking part in community events.
Dhanisha most enjoyed spending time with her host family, which included four girls. She also witnessed a very special moment when her host mother gave birth to a little girl in the second month of her stay, and Dhanisha was honoured to take part in her naming ceremony. Dhanisha said “As I am an only child, I was able to experience the feeling of having siblings including a new born baby.” She felt lucky that she could speak with her family in Hindi, improving her language skills and connecting with her family better.
Her time in Nepal also taught her to be grateful for what she has, she explained “In life, we come into this word with nothing and we will leave with nothing. Life is about creating memories and not collecting things. After living in such a contrasting environment, I have learnt that we can make the most of everything even when having very little.”Dhanisha created a video documenting her experience in Nepal which you can watch here
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