REFLECTIONS OF THE YEAR 2015

The year 2015 has indeed been yet another fruitful and meaningful year for ChangeFusion Nepal.  As we bid adieu to this year, we would like our readers, supports and well wishers to revisit our journey with us reflecting our top  activities of the year which are as follows:

‘A Shop with A Story’: The idea of setting up our social entrepreneur’s collective was visualized for years by the founder director Luna Shrestha Thakur as Change Fusion Nepal started from the very room at Baber Mahal Revisited where the shop is now. She thought instead of making it as a working space, it can be the much needed outlet of social entrepreneurs.  It was towards the end of 2014 that the team started working on the concept. The idea behind this initiation was to provide a retail market and outlet for the social entrepreneurs ensuring utmost quality and authentic products. We have been constantly grooming and mentoring our chain of social entrepreneurs and helping them rediscover their initiatives by creating their distinct brand and identity locally and globally. The shop officially inaugurated in Jan 24th 2015 is solely be owned and run by a group of social entrepreneurs under joint ownership fostering mutual partnership and promotion of social initiatives. Despite the ongoing crisis, the shop has been able to self sustain itself and the credit goes to our loyal buyers who love our products. Thank you everyone!

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Glimpses of ‘A Shop with A Story’ family

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Sajana, our CFN team member has been professionally leading ‘A Shop with A Story’ and we thank her for notable work

Closing of the Youth Action Fund (YAF) program through the ‘Change Makers Course’: For the past 3 years from May 2011 to April 2014, CFN supported around 38 youth on small projects through YAF and based on the learning of this project, we developed an extensive ‘Change Makers Course’ which focused both on aspects of personality and project development. The first batch of Dec’14 had 9 graduates and the final batch closing on June 2015 had 5 graduates.  Suman, Suyog and Dikshya, from the group ‘A-Step ‘ completed their project of making a school bus eco friendly while group  Dipendra and Reshmi of team ‘Pariwartan’ completed their digital storytelling video on gender perceptions. The closing event was scheduled on April 25th, but was postponed till June due to the earthquake. kkMarking the closing year, we extend our sincere gratitude to Soros Foundation for 4 years of support to this project.

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Glimpses of YAF programs

The Dharti Initiative: 25th April 2015 will be marked as a black day for Nepal in years to come. Who could forget the dreadful shaking of mother earth for months which lead to the loss of over 9000 lives and pushed many on the poverty line. During the earthquake, ChangeFusion Nepal launched its ‘Dharti’ initiative, targeting the vulnerable community of Bhattedadha, Dhulikhel in efforts of relief and restoration with the help from ChangeFusion Thailand and ‘Saving Nepal’ online fundraising campaign. With the preliminary needs assessment to the distribution of relief materials to the entire package of 100 sustainable shelters, solar lights, water, agriculture and children welfare, the initiative encompassed various aspects for uplifting Bhattedadha. The support from individuals and group nationally and internationally has been an overwhelming experience and the journey is ongoing with regular monitoring and supervision. Whether it be the story of Rekha Tamang or Dewan Tamang, all that has been done can be viewed at https://medium.com/@Dharti.

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The Dharti Initiative at Bhattedadha

After Bhattedadha, we installed our remaining 6 sustainable shelters on 31st May’15 at Kakani upon the recommendation of our social entrepreneur Shanti Dolma as 6 of her staff members had lost their homes and were living under vulnerable conditions.

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The journey of bringing the shelter houses at Kakani

 

Additionally, we were able to facilitate 21 sustainable shelters donated by Portal Bikes to the distant village Dolakha, the hometown of our social entrepreneur Sita Tamang in the month of July’15 once we came to know that people were living on tripals and falling ill due to monsoon.

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The shelters journey to Dolakha

Our social entrepreneurs were also hard hit by the earthquake and so the team decided to engage its resources in the ‘Hridaya and Helping Hands’ project.  On 6th June’15, ChangeFusion Nepal officially formed a social entrepreneur’s support chain with the provision of recyclable fund to the needy members.

Our ‘helping hands’ initiative connects us with our social entrepreneurs and we go around helping the social ventures after identifying their problems and challenges. Irrespective of the diversity of ventures and its needs, we strive with passion and sincere efforts for its enrichment.

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Helping Hands at work

Currently, CFN team member Leena is leading ‘helping hands’ supporting diverse social venture and Hema, our adviser and expert of Finance is helping Sabita of Kritipur Hosiery with her finances so she can have a good track of income and expenses in her venture.

One such example is Shanti Shakya of Kakani Himalayan Natural Dyes, among others. She was seeking for financial capital support. Now she has received the necessary raw materials and two stitching machines for completing her orders.

Also, the helping hands are working with The Kevin Rohan Memorial Jewelry Workshop, led by Usha in bringing the new designs. They are also encouraged to maintain proper finance records and are monitored at regular basis.

As for Sita Tamang, founder of The Candlestick Women our team members  helped her to buy tab from the candles she sold throughout the month of October. Now she can connect with the world and learn and share new ideas and designs for her venture.

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The joy of buying your own tablet

Moreover, for Friend Handicrafts, our team member Sakar is currently involved in making their own website along with helping  in their online database. Through the social entrepreneurs supporter’s chain they had also received recyclable loan for repairing their workstation post earthquake.

We have also provided a workstation for the social venture ‘Women Dreams’ as their workstation located at Kathmandu was destroyed by the earthquake.

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Women Dream before/after workstation

 

Bangkok Diaries: ChangeFusion Nepal strives to enhance the ‘Knowledge’ component of the social entrepreneurs through extensive six weeks of workshop during the month of July till September. The idea of the Bangkok trip seeded when the team of Change Fusion Nepal took the women entrepreneurs out for a Korean lunch to celebrate their workshop progress. Within a month time, the entire trip was planned from making the passport to getting an interest free loan of joining the trip to boarding the flight. The purpose was an educational tour for professional development along with personality development and change in perception of the 12 social entrepreneurs. The details of the amazing trip and lessons from individual travelers can be read at https://bangkokdiariesblog.wordpress.com

 

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The journey of Bangkok Diaries

 

7 days of Hidden Journeys Nepal: Like a cherry on top of the cake, despite the current shortage and crisis, our 7 days of Hidden Journeys tour was a refreshing experience.  At the beginning, the November tour started with an online crowdfunding campaign for 10 days via https://kriticalmass.com/p/hiddenjourneysnepal. Post the catastrophic earthquake, there were concerns among the team and the guests who had inquired. Based on the series of virtual meetings, the 3 guests who had pre-paid and pre-booked for the tours were extremely supportive and so with their positive response, we rescheduled the trip which started from November 20th’15 when the guests arrived at Kathmandu. The journey was a great learning, sharing and growing experience for everyone including the guests, our social entrepreneurs and the team members. The details of the tour ranging from visiting Bhattedahda, to meeting with various social entrepreneurs to the trip to Sindhuli to a lecture series for knowledge sharing can be viewed at length at https://barsharthapa.wordpress.com/2015/11/27/7-days-of-hidden-journeys/

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Some memories of the 7 day hidden journeys

 

Pilot phase of Matribhumi Burner Chulo at Bhattedadha: The journey of change and exploration at difficult times marks a beginning of a new dawn in the lives of many. The relationship between man and fire has been an indispensable and our social entrepreneur Madhukar Ji’s ‘ Matribhumi Burner Chulo’ has found its way to our Bhattedadha family. The specialty of this Chulo is its unique concept with an amalgam of scientific technique infused with the local mud and stone with a mud chimney design. This will be a less smoke alternative to the households along with saving 60% of firewood. Our team headed to the village along with Madhukar ji and technician Ram ji who did a live demonstration of making the chulo at Fulmaya didi’s place along with training 2 locals. For the pilot phase, the technician will stay in the village for 2 more days to guide the new trainees so that they can assist the interested members of the 100 households to build their own chulo.

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Glimpses of the pilot phase at Bhattedadha

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7 days of Hidden Journeys

“Wow. This tour has far exceeded my expectations. It offers an immersive experience that combines direct engagement with inspiring social entrepreneurs, authentic Nepali culture and the beautiful natural environment. I have never experienced anything like it. Luna and her team are warm, generous hosts who are passionate social entrepreneurs themselves. Bravo! We will be back” – Andy Hornell

“My heart is full. What a gift it has been to be invited into the lives of these inspirational social entrepreneurs. I feel uplifted after a week of engaging with everyone Luna has introduced us to- from women’s and farmers co-operatives to people committed to providing employment, fair wages and health services to those who would otherwise be without. This is the way to experience a country- spending time with local people who are passionate about their country and making life better for others. I am inspired to go home and make life better in my community. Thank you, Luna, for this very special experience” – Denise Grant

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Denise and Andy

“Hidden Journeys has been an eye opening experience. Not only have we had the opportunity to see the beautiful country and its sights-we’ve connected with inspiring, resilient and passionate social entrepreneurs. They are transforming the future of Nepal-and it’s been so humbling to learn from them. I will bring back many experiences, lessons and new friendships. Thank you CFN for sharing with me Nepal’s most beautiful stories of hope and positive change-through the people” – Stephanie Arrowsmith.

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Stephanie

Reading these inspiring quotes makes the entire team blessed and our hearts are filled with immense joy and pride. This enriching experience that our guests have described above is an outcome of 7 months of rigorous hard work and dedication and 7 days of an unforgettable journey. Let us share the reflections on the exclusive 7 day Hidden Journeys.

Hidden Journeys Nepal  gives our special guests the chance to meet with and learn from social entrepreneurs and everyone involved gets the opportunity to develop and discuss new ideas and build connections for future projects. Initially it started an online crowdfunding campaign for the first 10-days  Social Enterprise Tour in Nepal via https://kriticalmass.com/p/hiddenjourneysnepal which was received with much enthusiasm.

However, the disastrous April 25th’15 earthquake and its aftershocks shook the entire nation and the team of ChangeFusion Nepal was concerned about the guests safety and the tour idea was at the threshold. 5 potential guests who had make inquired about the tour had cancelled as they were fearful of the catastrophic earthquake and the team of Change Fusion sat in for regular rounds of virtual meetings with the Kritical mass representative and our 3 guests who had already pre-booked and pre-paid for the journey. After the earthquake, the ongoing impasse and crisis was indeed a challenge but the guests were encouraging and opined that ‘A country and its citizens can be best known at times at crisis” and they also believed that, “Now is the time to visit Nepal to show our love and support”. They wanted to come here and see for themselves how despite countless struggles, changemakers and social entrepreneurs are still making a difference. And so we were very cautious in planning the journey with revisions to the itinerary constantly to ensure the guests safety and even shortened the 10 day to a 7 day comprehensive journey which kick started on 20th November’15.

Day 1

The 7 days of Hidden journeys began with the team of Change Fusion Nepal (Luna, Leena and Sajana) receiving them at the airport.  Both the groups arrived at the same day 15 minutes apart between 7:45 – 8:00 pm on Friday (20th November’15). Despite the 20 hour flight from Canada the guests were very enthusiastic and we checked out of the airport at 10 pm.

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Team members Leena, Luna and Sajana waiting to receive guests at the airport.

The first night stay was planned at Gokarna Resort with great hospitality and comfort after a tiring flight to Kathmandu. Our guests were Andy, Denise and Stephanie were jolly and encouraging who stayed up late at night to talk about the present situation of Nepal. They were assisted and guided by Luna, Leena, Sajana and Jason throughout the journey.

A brief about our guests-

* Andy Hornell has been helping people to use entrepreneurship as a force for positive change and is now the vice chair of the Social Enterprise Council of Canada, and founding director of the newly-formed Social Enterprise Network of Nova Scotia.

* Denise Grant is accompanying her husband Andy and she is a former academician. She now is an organic farmer at Canada.

* Stephanie Arrowsmith Stephanie Arrowsmith is the Manager of Global Partnerships at StartSomeGood.com – the global crowdfunding platform for social change.

Day 2

The first day  of travelling started with a hearty breakfast at Gokarna Resort and briefing to the guests about the 7 day- Itinerary. Then we drove our guests directly to Dhulikhel to learn about the ‘Dharti’ initiative; its past activities for relief with current and future plans for long term sustainable goals. Then the guests visited Jason‘s site of The Karmi Initiative which is collaborating with ABARI Bamboo and Earth Initiative to develop an experimental co-learning campus in Kampani, a village near Dhulikhel – just one hour southeast of Kathmandu. Then we stopped by at Fulmaya Didi‘s place at Bhattedadha for lunch. Then went around to old town of Dhulikhel to meet locals and see old houses. After an eventful day, the rest stop was at Himalayan Horizon Hotel and dinner with the Ex mayor of Dhulikhel, Sir Bel Prasad Shrestha. He is the man behind transforming Dhulikhel village and hearing his stories of development made the evening a great learning experience for us all.

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Glimpses of Day 2.

Day 3

Dhulikhel is a popular destination famous for its natural scenery, mountain, sightseeing, temples and stupas. But many guests dont know that it also has one of the best University, which is Kathmandu University and Community led Hospital, which is Dhulikhel Hospital. So the 2nd day of our trip was to find how the community people came together and transformed the place which has hospital, water, solar, electricity and university. Ex Mayor BP Sir took the whole team to dhulikhel and showed hospital, university and first girl’s school established there.

Dhulikhel Hospital is an independent institution which was conceived and supported by the Dhulikhel community, as a quality health services provider since 1996. The Hospital is guided by the principles of social equity, sustainable development and harmony with nature and has already rendered its services to 50 out of 75 districts in Nepal.

Kathmandu University (KU) is an autonomous, not-for-profit, non – government institution dedicated to maintain high standards of academic excellence. Within a period of 21 years, KU has built not only reasonable infrastructure, but also established a track record of academic excellence. The main thrust of KU is to make it a research-cum-teaching university in science, management, engineering, medical sciences, arts, and education.

After the Hospital and University visit, team went to Namo Buddha. Namo Buddha is one of the sacred Buddhist pilgrimage site of Nepal. The landscape below resembles an eight-petaled lotus, and the sky above has the form of a wheel with nine spokes. An ancient carved stone reflecting the legend of Namo Buddha is still there which depicts the historical momentous of Buddha who was moved by compassion at the pitiable sight of a tigress and her cubs that he offered his own body as food.

The best part of the tour is not just about the visits and learning from there but also about how in short time, the guests and hosts are bonding with each other, it is just 2 days and they have really become good friends and there is always a long conversation on dinner about their respective countries and how to help each other in the field of social entrepreneurship.

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Glimpses of Day 3

Day 4

The early morning trip to the Junar District of Nepal from Dhulikhel was a four hour journey across the picture risqué terrain of the eastern part of Nepal. Having travelled 311 Kms, we were overjoyed to see the luscious sight of the fertile hills of Sindhuli welcoming us with the Junar plants everywhere. The guests then met with our social entrepreneur Dipak Prasad Koirala representing the Junar Kendriya Sahakari Sangh where they visited the nearby Junar plantation site, nursery and the Junar processing factory unit. There were varieties of produce from the citrus fruit like jams, marmalade and pickles which explored the possibilities of the cooperatives prospect of scaling up in terms of export. With yet another fruitful day, we proceeded on returning to Dhulikhel on late afternoon and reached our resting stop later at night.

The Junar of Sindhuli is a successful module as it is an amalgam of 40 local cooperatives in one along with the private sector and the government investment. The cooperative has improved the living standards of the farmers and has opened up prospects of extending its market networks and making their Junar a globally consumed quality product. Also, the cooperative is an example of a collective working culture among the farmers and it also shares with them the technical/administrative knowledge and experiences required for maintaining a standard farming practice.

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Glimpses of Day 4

Day 5

Past 3 days of our journeys has been amazing for our guests and they are already learning the diverse social entrepreneurship approaches along with culture, farming, health, education and Junar plantations. Yesterday was a physically exhilarating day which involved traveling to a place for 4 hours and returning on the same day and so we gave enough time for our guests for resting today and began with Day 4 at 9 am today.
The first stop from Dhulikhel on the way to Kathmandu was our social entrepreneur Sunita Nhemaphuki’s farm at Banepa. Sunita has started an agriculture based magazine – Krishak ra Prabidhi, with the objective of improved information flow between the farmers and the market. Her venture has also initiated Krishi Club, a practical information center and platform for farmers to share and network.
The next stop was the Namuna Ghar at Bhaktapur which is initiated by Rabindra Puri, the first Nepali awarded with the Asia Pacific Cultural Heritage Award. Namuna Ghar or model house at the Bhaktapur Municipality in itself a museum of traditional Newari architecture at modern day extending 259.21 square meters.
After the guests visited the historic Kirtipur city and Sabita Maharjan’s venture Kirtipur Hosiery. Her venture has been empowering over hundred women through their knitting skills. At last, the day came to an end with a stop at a traditional Newari authentic cuisine restaurant to add the flavors of Kirtipur in our guests’ memories of the journey.

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Glimpses of Day 5

Day 6

At the hidden journeys we take care of even the smallest details, to ensure that guests are happy and content. We are also concerned about their meaningful stay and so the guests are having a lovely time stay at Newa Chén. Newa Chén stands as a living monument of the Malla era – a renaissance period in the history of Nepal and the guests explore and experience newari culture and tradition in its splendid native settings. Due to the time constraints we cannot take our guests to meet every social entrepreneur at their ventures so we invited them for breakfast so that they could get to know each other today.

We started with Jo Hill, a social enterprise expert who runs an organization that works on sustainable waste management in India and is currently working in Nepal to set up a pilot composting / recycling project. Next the guests visited SmartPani, founded by Suman Shakya and Tyler McMahon which develops, installs and maintains environmentally friendly rainwater harvesting systems. The system provides potable or grey water for households to combat the water shortage problems faced in Kathmandu and elsewhere.

Then the guests visited Friend Handicrafts and met Shanti & Nirjala Shrestha who established the venture in 2003 with an initial investment of Rs. 6000. It provides employment opportunities and other benefits to women from lower income households – giving them a livable wage and a safe working environment. At last our guests visited Gaali Gaali founded by Surabhi Pudasaini which crowd-sources and maps information on government services to help citizens register businesses, get driving licenses and access other government services through its online and offline platform ‘Nalibeli’. The aim is to maintain transparency and accountability in Nepal.

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Glimpses of Day 6

Day 7

Another specialty of the hidden journeys tour is that learning is a two-way process; the guests are learning from our social entrepreneurs and we also learnt about their ideas from the International Conference at King’s College today. The session featured a workshop on digital fundraising/ crowd funding for social impact by Stephanie and a discussion on the global context of social entrepreneurship by Andy with a group of MBS students, aspiring change makers and social entrepreneurs as attendees. We also had our local entrepreneur Sachina’s stall there. Then the last visit was at the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology, a part of the Nepal Eye Program. After fourteen years, TIO is still determined in its mission to be the hub for ophthalmic services, academia and research. The current focus of TIO is on strengthening its academic unit, opening more rural community eye centers in the hilly and mountainous districts of Nepal and above all sharing the ‘Tilganga’ model of eye care concept to others. The guests then came to our social entrepreneur’s collective ‘A Shop with a Story’ at Baber Mahal Revisited followed by a closing dinner with the remaining team of Change Fusion Nepal, Barsha and Shakar and few other social entrepreneurs from diverse fields. The event was a wonderful medium of ideas exchange and networking.

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Glimpses of Day 7

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