TRAVEL IS AN ONGOING PROCESS, which gradually reveals the beauty and diversity of human experience on this fascinating planet of ours. While I was in Turkey, I was fortunate enough to be contacted by my professor and friend, Dr. Rachana Sachdev, who asked me if I’d like to take part in a research trip to Nepal this summer. Unable to resist the opportunity, I agreed. Dr. Sachdev and four students (including me) were fortunate to receive a full grant to conduct research on the conditions of the street children of Nepal. The process of applying for the grant was rather involved, but it paid off, and in one week I will once again leave the United States to venture to Kathmandu, where I will spend three weeks with the professor and three other students visiting non-governmental organizations throughout Nepal.
The grant comes from an organization which funds projects in Asian studies, ASIANetwork. We were lucky to receive very generous funding, so that each participant has virtually no personal costs whatsoever. Each student, as well as Dr. Sachdev, will focus on a different aspect of the street children in Nepal. I will be focusing on the influences of foreign aid appropriation to Nepal since the Cold War, with a particular emphasis on new media (especially the internet), while incorporating elements of Edward Said’s theories of Orientalism in my approach. Here is an abstract from our research proposal giving a more general description of the project:
“Street Children in Nepal-Changing Lives, Changing Stories
Christina Harrington, ’12, “Literacy among Street Children in Nepal”
Stephen Hyde, ’12, “Kinship Patterns and Homeless Children in Nepal”
Blake Mosser, ’10, “Voc. Training and Employment Programs for Street Children in Nepal”
Garth Libhart, ’10, “Politics, Compassion and Computers: Influences on U.S. Aid to Nepal since the Cold War”
Four students will spend a month in Nepal undertaking individual research projects facilitated by key NGOs in Nepal that are working with street children. Half their time will be spent in the Kathmandu-Bhatkapur area and neighboring villages, and the other half will be spent travelling to Pokhara, Jomsom, Muktinath, and Biratnagar to perform additional research. One student will study vocational training and employment programs for street children; another, literacy among the street children; a third, kinship patterns and homelessness; and a fourth, the repercussions of British colonialism and humanitarian aid on Kathmandu society and politics. As a group they seek to objectively assess what the most effective organizational blueprint for working with street children is for Nepal, and submit their findings in a report to the NGOs and then draw from it and their research to produce a paper for publication in an academic journal.”
A great deal of our time will be spent in NGO’s. We will interview both NGO workers as well as street children. Nepal, one of the most impoverished countries on earth, has a particularly devastating amount of child poverty, and our aim is to assess the situation while providing viable solutions for the future. I’m certain that the experience will be eye-opening, and I also expect that parts of it will be rather shocking and difficult.
I will have some internet access in Nepal, and I intent to blog while doing my research. I will place all of my posts on this blog, so check your inbox for frequent updates once I leave.
As a final note: We are looking to make donations to all of the NGO’s we visit, since we will be taking time away from their work to conduct our research, and since many of them struggle for funding to begin with. Unfortunately, none of our grant money is allowed to be used for this purpose. If you’d be interested in making a contribution of any amount to non-governmental organizations that help some of the most destitute and suffering children on earth, please send me a private email at firstname.lastname@example.org.