Fieldwork in Dailekh : March 31 to April 15

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Before sharing about this second trip, let’s recall a little about what has already been achieved. Last year I came to Nepal around march 2013, to meet with Narayan municipality in Dailekh.

The aim was to figure out if I could possibly work with the local community to establish this library. Many nepali friends were telling me why don’t you go and work for international organisations already existing. I explained them I wanted to be free to move and run this project on my own without any influence coming from organisations, which in my point of view are not always genuine in their approach. It is indeed sad to notice that a lot of NGOs are being runned like private companies. In our wonderful modern world, even social work seems to turn out into business. Moreover, I don’t appreciate the way some of them are fighting against iliteracy by imposing their view and culture. So this is why I decided to work on my own and with the local people only. But therefore this work as a single person reveals to be more complicated and challenging. To be able to do so, I had to put my personal career under brackets. With the firm conviction, that what I am doing is right, I took the risk to go outside my comfort zone and a bit far from common and secure path. Since 2013 I am indeed living on my savings earned by working at the library in France.

Lettre de partenariat

This first trip to Nepal for the project, revealed to be all in all positiv. It ended up with a partnership letter from municipality stating their willingness to participate into this project. The responsible of the municipality, Gagan B. K., engaged himself indeed to provide room and librarian as soon as I would come back with some funds to start buying books. It was with a smiling face and a heart filled with joy, that I came back to my country. My wish to be useful would slowly find its way. First thing first, I started with the registration of Peepal Chhaya Nepal in November 2013. After several months spent on communication tools editing : logo, website, social network pages, I started to build up same time my nepali network in France and Nepal. I succeeded into receiving some financial support from the Cultural house of Nepal in Paris and from the Popular university of my residential town, that I would like to thank here.

Getting funds as a new organisation being quite difficult, I decided also to post in February the community library project on Ulule, a famous european crowdfunding plateform. I was quite stressed and uncertain if I would be able to reach the total amount I was asking within a month and half. I spent long days and nights promoting the project. Whole days were busy with sending messages here and there, with the hope to find people who would feel concerned and willing to get involved. I had to make people feel confident. I had to proove them my quest was honest.

Goalreachedengllish

In March, I finally came back to Nepal to prepare the next trip to Dailekh. But I had first to stay in Kathmandu whole month, in order to update on ulule and to wait for its ending hopefully with success. Thanks to the generosity of my friends and of the nepalese living outside country, we reached the 2000 € quite rapidly even before the end. That was a huge relieve to me. But then some news came unexpectedly scattering my plans. It was to good to be true. It couldn’t go forward that easily. I was planing to go Dailekh to meet up with the responsible to manage the room, sign the legal papers to start effectively the partnership, raise the management committee together and work on the action plan for the up-coming months. But I learned that Gagan B. K. was not the responsible anymore in Narayan municipality. That meant I had to explain about the whole project again to the new person who replaced him. I was hoping it wouldn’t jeopardize the whole project.

(To make a small deversion, Nepal is suffering from a lot of political and institutional unstability. Few months back they finally elected a new commission for the setting of a new constitution. Since then, nothing has been achieved. We are still waiting for community level elections to happen. Therefore the mayor position is still empty and the current responsible person we have to deal with might also be transfered suddenly without any notice.)

March 31 :
D-Day. Time has come to embark on our second journey to Dailekh. Together with my dear friend Amit, professional photographer, we make ourselves physically and mentally ready. A long and hectic night travel, on one of those several outdated and shabby public buses, is awaiting us.

I need to tell here that I am really greatful to Amit for the help he is giving me. Without him I wouldn’t be able to succeed in this project and give a helping hand to his people. Dailekh being a remote area, very few inhabitants there understand english. Communication with them would therefore barely be possible without his kind and precious help.

It is 3pm we are leaving in a micro-van for the Gongobu Buspark in Katmandu. The van is too crowded as usual in Nepal. Still conductor is looking for some new people to get in. Impossible to move. It even starts to get difficult to breath. Almost forty minutes to reach the place. The driver is leading its engine at high speed, swerving here and there, making its way through the concrete jungle of motorcycles, taxis, tempos, buses and pedestrians.

buspark3

We finally reach the buspark and start looking for our bus. Here it is, waiting under the sun at its zenith. Since we want to produce a small documentary to promote the project, we start to make some small sequences. While Amit makes himself busy with it, I take my place in the bus, to get away from the curious looks around me. First reaction, when they see my white skin approach, is to ask if we want to go Pokhara. They cannot imagine that some foreigner wants to go to the remote mid-western Nepal.

Our night bus n°6103 to Dailekh is named Kaakribihar Yatayat. Inside the bus, some incense is burning in order to remove the smell from the last journey. Certainly for good luck too. As in every bus, some gods making up hinduism are displayed, mostly Shiva and Ganesh. This bus is going to be our shelter for a whole night and day. Let’s hope it will be fine.

After long awaitening, we finally move at 4pm. First stop at the gas-station, to fill in the tank. More than 170 L at once. The bus was really thirsty. Rupee transaction and here it goes. We are getting into the huge trafic jam of this city called hell. More than one hour and half to get out of the congested capital. The bus is packed, more than reasonable. Still a constant flow of people is getting in, pushing one’s way to manage some small space to stay. From the window, the usual scene of pollution and dust. Suddenly I imagine myself in one painting of Tanguy. Dunes of sand, some undefinite melting objects spread out to cover each corner of this apocaliptic cityscape. Pools of plastics, where some cows and dogs are desperately trying to find some sustenance in vain. One old woman is walking hesitant, shivering, trying to avoid the dirt, her scarf floating in the wind. Unconceivable scene in west, in one butcher shop, a motorcycle has been parked.

After few hours of drive, around nine evening time, we stop to rest and eat. The food provided on the way is more than dubious. Here no rules of hygiene. No place for them in fact. To preserve us from getting stomach sick, we just ingest some fruits and biscuits as dinner. We stay outside in the clear night for a while to stretch our legs. 21 hours sitting with not much space to move feels difficult. Half an hour has passed, when everyone is done with daal bhaat. We all jump into the bus again. Very quiclky, passengers are fallen asleep and snorrings fill the whole compartment. Only the two of us are still awake, fighting to find some sleep unsucessfully unsuccessfully.

April 1st:

In the morning, around 6am, we stop to drink some couple of dudh chiya in Kohalpur to give us some energy to face the new day with its still nine hours of bus awaiting us before reaching our destination. Just enough time to go to the restroom and refresh ourselves a little and the bus starts throbing again. Two three honks of its horn to inform the passengers of the imminent departure. Time to step in again. Still same driver is at the wheel. I wonder how this can be possible. And straight I think about the security part. Funny when I start to draw a comparison with my country, in which we are invited to stop every two hours for a pause.

Three and half hours separate us from Surkhet, the junction of mid-western Nepal where we are heading. A huge city lying in the bed of a large flat valley. After the bus stopped there for an hour or so, we then take the risky, montainuous and narrow rocky trail from Surkhet to Dailekh. It is around 3pm that we finally arrive safely under a harsh sun. We are relieved.

journy

Time has come to rest and to inhale some clean and unpolluted air in order to clean the lungs after one month spent in Kathmandu among its vicious air pollution. While having some delicious milk tea, we are making our schedule for these two weeks we will spend here in Dailekh. Hopefully it will turn out to be fruitful.

April 2 :

Since we learned one month ago that Gagan B. K. was not the responsible person for the municipality anymore, we decide first to meet the new person to talk about the project and get the garantee that he would still provide room and salary for the future librarian.

Unfortunately we are not well informed and the man is out of Dailekh for some trainee. We have to wait one week to get the chance to meet and talk. Instead we try to get already some information on room through the secretary of municipality. But it turns out that this person is also out of office for lunch. After waiting for a while in an almost empty room, suddenly someone popps in. But we are not sure he is the secretary. His gestures and looking are quite weird for an employee of government. His whole attitude is akward and borrowing oddness. He behaves like a jumping jack. To make sure he is the one Amit plays clever, asking in nepali if he had a nice daal bhaat. The secretary starts straight talking using Shakespeare’s language in a manner never heard before. I don’t understand anything. Maybe it is some coded language ! He surely wants to impress me. And indeed he does, but not in a good sense. I am about to burst out laughing, thinking it is some trick. Some hidden camera must have been displayed somewhere. Still tired from journey, I cannot retain my need to laugh. I have just enough time to turn away in Amit’s direction. Poor he, he has to stay serious, while seeing me struggling to grab myself again. After a few seconds of absence, I find the strength to utter some words again. I ask him if it would be possible to see the land where they plan to build the new municipality building, since this is where they plan to build the library as well.

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After his little acting on stage and repeated requests from my side, we finally reach the place. It reveals itself to be simply in front of the temporary municipality building. Location reveals itself to be really good, centrally located in the main Bazaar. Land is big enough, which is not so easy to find since Narayan is rather small and already packed with houses. He and his colleagues explain us proudly about the exact location of the municipality and entrance gate. It is above this gate that the library would be settled. I ask for some measurements to make sure space would be enough for library. It seems alright. After that we go back to the building again. One man, the engineer working for the municipality, comes with the sketching of the project. But there is on plan no library to see, although the former man told us that in two years from now they planned to build one. The secretary explains us that for now they received from government only money for the construction of the municipality. To start they would therefore provide some rooms inside the current premises. He then shows us the rooms, but they are far too small to be able to host any library. Moreover hosting it inside municipality doesn’t appear very strategic. Inhabitants would indeed feel a bit reluctant to go there. I ask therefore if it would be possible to get two rooms outside the municipality as promised by Gagan B.K. But secretary is confused and apparently not well informed on the intentions of Mister B.K.. So we have to be patient and wait for the new responsible to come and try to figure out with him the possiblities.

This first visit of municipality is quite disapointing. I was thinking we would be able to see room straight, sign contract, raise the committee and talk concrete about how to start with the project. But till now nothing is sure still. We are stuck. No garantee, just hope for progress.

Finally the secretary invites us to come back the next day. Meanwhile he would call the new responsible to know about his view and if it would be possible to start looking for room outside the municipality. He requests us to get into contact with Gagan B. K. to tell him to call the new one as well and to talk about what was planned.

Since the mayor would not be there before a week, we decide to change our plans and start with interviewing people and shooting videos for the documentary, same time as to to meet people for the raising of the management committee. Therefore we head for the bazaar to spread the message about the library project. We stop at one junction to rest and wait for the people to approach. Since here no tourists are coming, I am straight the center of curiosity and attraction. We don’t have to wait very long for people from all ages to come near and start asking about our presence. Time spent in their compagny feels nice. I am more than glad to be able to practice my poor nepali with them. It makes them all whether amused or stuned.

OLD WOMAN

Suddenly, one old woman with a worn-out grey scarf tied around her head, comes close to me. She explains me about her old age and that her eyes hence can barely see. She is asking me, with words and hands, how she can read the books then ? I don’t know what to answer. She got a point here. Nevertheless she seems to be happy with the news of a library and after a little while observing me she leaves and get back to her work. A cheeky girl then also starts talking with me, amused with my nepali, which must have sound strange to her. She is the mother of a small « babu ». To here about the library project makes her very glad. She straight turns out into ambassador for the project by starting to explain others on how a library works with confidence. After approximatively two hours explaining, shooting pictures and movie as well as interviewing a few young students, we come back to our shelter to rest and prepare for the following day.

April 3 :

Late morning we have our second visit of municipality to get the answer to our request. A lot of employees are lazing on the balcony taking the sun, while having tea and small talks. Experiencing this scene, I wonder how many employees are actually truly working and devoted into helping their own people. It seems more like they are just killing time in talking rather than working efficiently. We ask for the secretary, who quickly shows up and tells us that we would have to wait for the new person to come back. There is not any possibility to visit rooms in the bazaar for now. I try to stay calm although I start to be more and more worried. I have to take it lightly and with philosophy. There is not much we can do. I have to train my patience.

They are trying to reasure us by saying that they are really interested into the project since an information center has been put in their long term plan. But since municipality gave us last year only a partnership letter and no contract stipulating their engagement to provide room, the advancement of the project is therefore slowed down.

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We go then to our next meeting with the DEO (District Education Office) represented by the secretary Kul Prasad Khanal. We request him if the chief of the office would be willing to be part of the management committee. Aware of the importance of such kind of structure in Dailekh, the answer is of course without any hesitation positiv. They also wondered several times about the need of a library in the past. And since they are working in educational field, they are most willing to help in any possible way.

April 4 :

To avoid the sun, we move early morning to visit the public campus called Narayan, where final exam for students is going on. Around a cup of tea, we explain about the project to the president Surendra Kumar Adhikari. He and the former campus chief are really enthousiastic to hear about it.

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After the presentation, I request to visit their library, runned by one person who received some basic trainee from the National Library in Kathmandu. At first sight it looks quite ok furniture wise. But as for the books available, it appears that they don’t have many references to offer and quite a lot of copies of the same book instead. Moreover, the library doesn’t have any classification system. Only the librarian knows therefore how the books are put into order onto the shelves. There is also no informatic book catalog. Everything has been and is done manually. The librarian tells us that in order to lend books, students have to pay a small annual fee, which enables them to keep books three weeks at home. But smiling, the former chief tels us that usually they keep them way longer. Our meeting ends up with their agreement to be part of the management committee.

On the way back, we enter the District Development Office, but the chief is also out of the district. Bad luck again. So after waiting for the secretary who is in a meeting, we talk with him briefly and request CDO to be part of committee. The secretary tell us that they will of course participate since they also had some similar project in the past, which didn’t succeed due to no book support.

We walk then back through the whole bazaar shooting pictures and nearby our shelter we do few interviews of locals. A small girl about to be thirteen named Purnima Kharki (girl’s name has been changed for a serious reason. If this name is relevant to any other person then this is pure coincidence) is cutting wood in the forest. We go to talk to her and explain her about the community library for Narayan municipality. Her school has a small library. She tells us she loves to read poetry and true stories. I ask her if she knows some old stories or songs. For us, she is willing to sing a small song coming out of her own compositions. She seems very talented girl. And proudly one man passing by, tells us she is first in her class.

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Then after, we meet some really funny elder woman named Man Kumari. We learn from her, that she is staying alone here and is taking care of two goats for her living. She is mother of three boys and one girl who is staying in Bahreïn. A lot of nepali families do indeed have at least one member of family working abroad to help support financially the family staying in Nepal. She explains us that she didn’t get the chance to learn how to read and write when she was young, because she had to help her mother with household. She would thus be very glad to learn how to write her name once the library would be opened.

In the evening time we walk to the small hill to shoot some videos of the surroundings and bazaar.

April 5 :

Since it is saturday, resting day in Nepal, we work on social networking to give some news and update Peepal Chhaya’s website. We also prepare the next week’s visits.

Again some bad surprise comes along, which this time makes us quite angry. I have to manage some issue with students from Saint-Xavier College in Kathmandu who wanted to raise money by doing a concert for the library project. At first I was really enthousiatic about it since nepali students felt concerned about the need to help out their own people. It was hence very appreciable. I gave them all information they needed to communicate on it. We had two meetings in Kathmandu. One only with two of the students where we talked about the concert to come and how to manage it and what the money would go for and another larger one with one nepali man working for Unicef during which I gave them my proposal as well as the logo of Peepal Chhaya for the editing of tickets. A week before their concert, I noticed they did some promotion on social network for this purpose. But I was astonished to see that they didn’t mention Peepal Chhaya at all. They just used the pictures of the organization and the description of the project I gave to them to make their own promotion. I thought it might be an omission and asked them to add Peepal Chhaya. I didn’t receive a quick answer to my request. And I had to recall them several times. Finally here comes a reply few days before the concert, telling me that they cannot mention Peepal Chhaya because it is a foreign organisation. And the school master doesn’t want any foreign interference. How ironic and funny, when we know that every morning students, who are mainly supposed to be hindu, are compelled to read the bible before starting courses in that same college !!!!

They had apparently no intentions to let me know about this fact. It seems like they only try to take advantage on us, stealing the ownership of the project to take whole credits for themselves and Ed Focus Nepal. Deceived and disapointed, I reply them not to mention the library project in Dailekh anymore and that we won’t accept any money.

HILL

In the evening we head back to the hill to shoot some videos and up there we meet unexpectedly some journalists who start talking with Amit, asking about the reason of our presence here. They suggest us to go visit the journalist association to present the project and get support.

April 6 :

As recommended the day before, we go to visit in the morning the journalist association in the middle of Bazaar. The president Naman Shahi receives us with some milk tea as it is the custom here in Nepal. We present the library project as usual and ask them if they would be also willing to be in the management committee. Their answer is positiv. They will also help the project by donating books in the future.

Before leaving they raise one strange issue. A few months back, municipality would have spent almost 30 000 dollars on making some boundaries on one land near the public hospital at the entrance of Narayan municipality. And this land is said to be for an upcoming library too…. How does it come municipality didn’t tell us about that ? Definitely we are going from one surpise to another ! Next meeting we will for sure raise the issue, ask for explanation and watch their reaction.

In order to keep on advocating and looking for members for the future committee for the library, I ask for some contacts of dalit committee, women organisation before leaving. They advise us to go Everest Club to talk with the president. He is indeed the chief of the federation which brings together all organisations in Dailekh. Thanks to him, we will get references we are looking for.

We try therefore to visit him but unfortunately he is out. One shopkeeper gives us his phone number, but it is off. In the main street, we meet then the journalist again we just had a meeting with and he tells us that Deepak Sahi, the president of Everest club is having a workshop in the same hotel we just came out of. So we go back there and wait for him. After a while, we introduce him to the project and ask him for his participation in the management committee. He assures us of his coming at the meeting for its establishement.

He also raises the issue of this land and the huge money it costed to make those boundaries. A second person talking about the same issue makes us more suspicious about the integrity of the people working for the municipality. Can we really trust them ? Would it be really cautious to work with them ? It seems like corruption is involved. Nepal is indeed suffering a lot from it. This explains why the country is still not developping although a lot of money coming from outside is invested to improve its situation and the well-being of its people. And since a lot of people trusted me by donating, I want to make sure that this money will be well spent and for a long lasting project.

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We end up the day with the visit of the dalit organisation : Nepal National Dalit Social Welfare, represented by Resham B. K. We expose once more the library project, request them to get into the management committee. The president gives us his word. We exchange a little bit about his organisation and the status of the dalit people, still put aside in the society. Dalits are indeed at the bottom of the cast system. I explain that it is indeed a library for all, without discrimination of any kind. Reasured the president tell us he is not only willing to be part of the project but also help provide room if ever we couldn’t find any. But since the room he is talking about has been gifted to them by one politician, I gently decline his offer, conscience that politics might get involved in future, which I want to prevent for the sake of the project.

April 7 :

We start the day by visiting the forest committee to get some information about furniture for the library.

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We explain about the project to the chief, Shree Bhagwang Gupta and ask him if they could provide wood for the furniture of the library. Since in their coverage area there are only pine trees and essence of trees which are of not of good use for furniture and easily damageable by termits, he advises us to rather use metal furniture. One supplier « Sundar compagnie steel » could provide us with it.

Finally at the request to sit in the committee, he is positiv and says he would also donate to the library books they publishe.

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Once meeting over, we walk back and stop by the Ganesh temple. We shoot some pictures there. On the road we stop at one shop. Like always people are coming to talk. We are having a conversation with three ladies each taking care of one shop : Pratima, Sunita and Nikita. The conversation we have with them is nice. They are impressed by my nepali and ask a lot of questions about the library project. Looking forward to send their children there, they ask straight for fee. They are really excited. After dealing with the project, we start talking about their daily life and its challenges.

April 8 :

Today is holiday and therefore resting day. We planned to go visit the Bhairab temple on top of the hill for the small Dashain festival. Unfortunately I got extremely sick the night before. Fever, flatulence, feel of vomiting, suffocation, tiredness as if I would have runned for hours each time I stand up. So the day turns out to be wasted, just trying to rest and sleep. I guess i had some food positioning, with some very spicy chili pepper at dinner the day before.

The only recomfort of the day was the chance to see a small wolf passing by at evening time. Afraid by the too many dogs and human beings around I could just glance at him for a small instant, when he pointed his nose, surely trying to go back to its shelter or to chase for food.

April 9 :

STREET

Feeling better, today will be a shooting day. Early morning we go to Dailekh Bazaar to take some videos to show the everyday living of the locals. But streets are rather empty still. People are slowly waking up. Women are making themselves busy with fetching water for the day, while men mostly are sitting in the shade at the entrance of their house or shop. The temperature is already quite high. Away from camera, I let Amit shoot the first video of the day. Young people are showing some interest. Sitting on a bench, I am trying to put into words my impressions.

WOMEN IN STREET

After filming, we head for the same Ganesh temple as last time, hoping there will be some more activity to shoot. But no one there as well. We are too early. We decide to just sit down in front of one shoemaker, who is just repairing some children shoes. Some adult comes and interupt him in his work to ask for his shoes to be brushed. In front of us a bus is about to leave for Kathmandu. Sun is once more very harsh. We move finally to the center of the Bazaar and shoot some pictures and one video of a shoemaker. Dailekh district is very famous for its handmade leather shoes. We are watching carefully the whole process. He explains us that those shoes are made out of old deer’s skin. Unfortunately because of poor trade infrastructures and lack of marketing, he is able to sell very little of them outside district.

We head then after to municipality to figure out if the responsible man has finally arrived. The employees tell us that he will arrive in the evening and that we will therefore be able to meet him the day after morning time. At the District Development Office, the chief is also still missing. Again we have to be patient and wait for the key persons to arrive.

10 April :

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Meeting with the responsible of municipality Neb Bahadur Oli. We finally got the chance to explain about the library project. My first impression is not so good. While talking he is constantly looking away as if he wants to avoid eye contact. He start explaining us he really likes our project and he wants to involve as much as possible, but municipality doesn’t have a huge budget to function. Therefore it will be difficult to provide the renting of two rooms while waiting for the new building that the former one promised to us. He advises us to get into contact with the DDC. They might help by providing room. But he is willing to provide some social worker who is already working for the municipality.

After his talking, we then raise the issue of the money spent for the land at the entrance of the city. He and his secretary seem suddenly a bit taken aback. The secretary is the one who starts talking, telling us that it is in fact not for the library but for a parking. That answer make us a bit supicious. We don’t see the relevance to have a parking at the entrance of Narayan, very far from Bazaar still. Our guessing that there might be some corruption at stake, becomes stronger and almost an evidence.

The meeting ends with the conclusion, that we should go meet DDC to see if they would be willing to provide room. If yes we could work all three on this library project. Anxiety, stress, wonder is arousing in me. I am a bit desperate and tired from all this talking without any concrete step forward. To refresh and empty my mind, we go rest near one small bhairab temple on the way back. How many uncertainty will we still have to face? Is it good to still try to work directly with the municipality if it appears we cannot really trust them ?

In the evening while I am just trying to rest and forget a little about the project, we get an unexepcted visit from two people belonging to one recent NGO Kala Sahitya Utthaan Pratistan Nepal represented by the president Sir Krishna Bahadur Devkota and one member whose name is Kavi Raj Khatri. They heard about our project by going same day to the municipality for their own library project. They come as the providence ! Would they be an option? Creating a library on each side would be stupid in one sense. It would thus be better if we could find some compromise and work together.

They want to warn us by telling that to work only with governmental institutions wouldn’t bring sustainability since as we experienced, governmental representatives are changing too often, and with them the goals of the municipality as well. They give us few examples of projects such as a radio station and a former library some 25 years back, which collapsed because relying only on public institutions, which were not stable. Exhausted from the day, we plan a meeting for the day after, to talk more deeply about their plans for the library and see if some partnership could be possible between us.

April 11 :

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The day starts with the meeting of Kala Sahitya Utthaan Pratistan Nepal. The organisation is composed of 7 members, mainly journalists without etiquette according to their saying. They are spreading since a couple of months the message about their library project among the inhabitants. Their plan is to make among every family members one member of the library by charging a small fee of 5 or 10 Rupees for a whole year. They plan to open a public library as well as a patrimonial one, to preserve nepali culture.

As for the public library, they share the same view. It should be open to everyone without discrimination of any kind. It would not only provide books but also launch activities such as poem competition, story telling etc…

After this second meeting with them, it appears that this partnership would be more relevant than working directly with municipality since they feel concerned about the importance of such a library, are really interested and motivated. Nevertheless I need to be careful since I don’t know them and organisations have become like business in Nepal, not only from western side. In Dailekh, more than 300 organisations are working more or less for the community. To make sure they are really serious, I have decided to conclude a six months contract to see if they can meet the requirements of room, furniture, librarian and management committee provision.

For now, they already have a person who would work for the library and who received not long ago some basic trainee from National Library. As for the location they have already found one place who could be used for the starting of the project. I ask to go visit it. The rooms are way too small in my point of view. But at the same time it seems to be very difficult to get bigger ones in whole bazaar due to a lack of space. All houses are packed together. We will therefore need to adapt to the available rooms.

April 12 :

Today is again a holiday. Nepali New year ! We are invited to one program runned by the organisation I plan to work with. They launched a cultural program, about music, poetry, short stories, dauda dance (chettri-bahun traditional dance) and humoristic sketches.

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I am reassured to see that different types of people are invited and not only some elite. Program is interesting and is taking whole day. They ask me to introduce myself and the project to the locals present. This is a good opportunity to get visibility and people’s reaction.

After the program is over, we go back home. Again I am experiencing some bad event. Almost 100 € is missing from my bag who stayed whole time inside room. We are wondering who it could be. After some thinking, we got the clue about the same small girl we talked to at the beginning of our stay. Indeed several times she came to visit us in our room, getting in without asking for permission. It could therefore only be her. But when that happen, we don’t know. We just realized money is missing while paying the bill for food. Unfortunately we don’t have any proof. We go and talk with the surrounding people who tell us that they also had to deal with her stealing habbit. She stole some vegetables from one garden and sweets from a shop. But no one complained because they don’t want to raise issue, since the mother is a quite loud and aggressive woman. Still we try same day to approach her, but she seems not as smilly and talkative as she used to be. When she sees us coming near, she goes inside house and stays far instead of coming talk as she usually does. She is defintely trying to avoid us. I am quite disapointed to aknowledge that we should not trust people, not even in countryside, where we would think people are more genuine. And moreover it appears even children can be bad. Cold observation. But well only god knows who stole that money….

April 13 :

We try to meet the LDO (Local Development Officer), who unfortunately is still not back from Surkhet. Several attempts to meet him. It is quite frustrating to come again and again for no result. And he is apparently supposed not to show up for a certain amount of time, but no one can give a precise date. We will have to give up our plan to visit him.

After some videos and shootings we meet Min Bahadur Shahi with whom we spent the afternoon and who gives us some good advises on how to deal with the organisation. I finally elaborate the contract to be signed between Peepal Chhaya and KSUPN.

April 14 :

final

We wake up early to go visit one famous temple on top of the hill called Bhairab temple. For New Year, a lot of people are climbing up the many stairs to worship god Bhairab by offering animal sacrifices, flowers, ensence…. We stay whole morning observing, taking pictures and movies. Amit is busy with interviewing young boys and girls as well as some adult. One young lady dares to come near me and offers me a beautiful red flower, wishing me all the best for this new year. While writting, some huge bee comes to suck the pollen of the flower and comes to rest on my hand. I stay motionless for a while, people observing me. But the bee just doesn’t wan’t to leave. I slowly kneel down to put the flower on the grass. Finally she gets off and I can start again writting. Amit then comes to tell me he wants to show me something. We go behind the small temple. There near a tree, some nepali young boy is sacrifising the animals. Blood can be seen on the floor. But I don’t want to see it. After being sacrificed, the good pieces go to the priest. the remaining parts will then be eating by the whole family.

5

In the afternoon, we meet KSUPN again to finally sign the contract. We interview the president and Parvati Bishunke, president of the Women committee, as well as one young lady to get their impressions about the library.

April 15 :

This is our last day in Dailekh. Mission is over. We finally succeeded into signing a contract. And if everything goes by plan (let’s hope for it this time) we will be able to spend the money by buying books next time we come around october once moonsoon will be over and roads to west passable again. After having our last daal bhaat, we leave around eleven for the bus station in order to catch the night bus for Kathmandu.

The return journey is hectic. The bus stop for dinner in the evening. We enjoy the bright shining full moon, while having some Rara noodles, biscuits and eggs. In bus, while I’m resting, Amit is listening to the two boys sitting right behind us. One of them is talking about his experience of ghosts on the highway at night. Is it coïncidence, strangely enough, in the middle of the night the window next to me suddenly blasts. First I’m thinking about someone who hit it from outside with a stone. Amit screams at the driver to stop. The latter executes himself rapidely. He goes out of the bus and next to us. According to him, it is due to the high speed, putting pressure on the window. Fortunately I am not hurt. Our seats are full of glass. Unfortunately we cannot change seats since the bus is more than full. People are even sleeping in the alley, one being the shoulder for the other. The rest of the journey turns out into a nightmare. Impossible to sleep. More than 10 hours in the cold, fighting with the wind. For sure we will be sick by tomorrow !

But the good thing is we make it back safe in Ktm in the morning.

The documentary for the Library Project for Dailekh is under process.

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