Jhapa Field Visit: From My Eyes
My name is Sajal, and I’m a new intern with Ganga Ghar. I am a third-year Social Work student at Thames International College in Kathmandu. I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to intern with three different social welfare organizations during my studies. I’ve visited many different parts of Nepal and studied issues like Migration, Empowerment, and Education. Of all my experiences, my work with Ganga Ghar has really opened my eyes, and become one of the most fruitful, rewarding portions of my life as a student.
The opportunity to conduct field visits is a Social Work student’s dream. You can only learn so much sitting in a classroom. The theories and cases we study create a strong desire to visit different problematic parts of Nepal, so obviously I was excited to be a part of the student selection process and had a feeling of joy regarding the field visit in Jhapa.
The difficulty of night travel on the rough, winding roads was not new but interesting conversation with fellow passengers and team members made it manageable. Besides, watching a movie during our journey made for quite an experience. After a 15 hour trip, we finally reached the bus stop where Mr. Rudra Sitaula (local representative) and Mr. Bikram Parajuli had come to receive us. We headed toward Mr. Sitaula's house, where a short introduction and team meeting helped me feel comfortable working and expressing my ideas.
In our first home visit, we met an 83 year old father having lunch outside his house. As flies swarmed around his lunch plate, his stiffly moving lips and soft voice asked us to help educate his youngest daughter, who had just turned 4. As we continued through the community, I saw children in torn clothing and families living in one roomed houses. Although these images fit with my assumptions of extreme poverty, when they left the pages of a book and became a reality it was hard to digest. Polygamy, rising birthrates, extremely poor and marginalized people, unemployment, and many other issues were encountered in the community (Arjundhara VDC). This picture of Jhapa was not at all what I had imagined.
After some discussion the first night, our team decided to prioritize the cases involving single parents, single mothers, and adopted children, since they represent a more vulnerable population. We came across many cases of separated parents, parents who had suffered accidents, and families struggling to survive. We learned of one case where a child abandoned on the riverbank had been rescued and adopted, and another where a mother accused of witchcraft nearly burned her 12 day old daughter in the jungle. Thankfully, the baby was saved by a woman from the village who then adopted her.
With these experiences, our field visit came to an end. We visited 44 homes in the community and connected with the family at each home. This exposure may not have made me a “new” man, but it has definitely created some positive changes in me. The theories and images in my book became a reality and my mistakes became my learning. I would like to thank all the members of our team for helping me have this experience. Lastly, I wish all the children could be selected and given sponsorship. All forty-four kids are deserving in my eyes.