It’s just been over a week since I arrived in Nepal and I am happy to be here. I have reconnected with many of the people I respect and admire, in Kathmandu, Kapan, Bhaktapur, Banepa (you know who you are!) and of course SIRC.
It was surprising to walk into the grounds of SIRC and see the extended building (upwards). The step-down facility for those patients who are still in need of some care yet do not have homes to return to as a result of last year’s earthquakes, is open and operating on a newly built 2nd floor thanks to the generous donations of Medecins Sans Frontiere.
Also moved to the 3rd floor are the admin offices – three offices in total: one for Esha as SIRC’s Executive Director, another for Lekhnath as SIRC’s HR Manager and a general room for Project Management and Communications/Fundraising staff members. Shyam in Finance and Dipesh the Admin Director remain downstairs close to the action.
The kitchen has been completely expanded to cater for a doubling of mouths to feed (patients, their caregivers and of course staff).
The old admin offices will be converted to a larger OPD (out patients department) soon, but in the meantime, the OPD is located downstairs on the lower floor, where physio, occupational therapy, psychology, hydrotherapy and vocational training continue to be located. The Social department remains on the ground floor close to the Nursing station and Doctors rooms.
Also new (literally brand new, no flooring down yet but it has been painted!) is a new and large Vocational Training centre generously funding by the Korean Government. It is planned to provide improved vocational training to ex-patients so that they may generate an income, given a return to their previous jobs of subsistence farming and such-like is unlikely.
Training in this centre will focus on laundry & ironing techniques where ex-patients will be trained on the art of laundry & ironing, and then given the necessary equipment to set up a small business to generate income for the family back home in their village. A second focus will be to train ex-patients on how to make candies (lapsi candies being one of Nepal’s favourites) and again the necessary equipment will be provided to take back home to their village.
One social enterprise is also planned – a bakery – a brilliant idea! The Korean Government are also providing the funding for the bakery on SIRC grounds. This is a slow process and will take some time to get the paperwork in order, but in the meantime, work will commence on the laundry/ironing and candy-making training shortly.
The Korean Government is working very closely with Sapana Neupane, SIRC’s newly hired Vocational Training & Employment Counsellor along with Sonika Dhakal who has transitioned from the Peer Counsellor role to Vocational Trainer role.
The centre now holds 150 beds (as compared to 51 beds before last year’s earthquakes) and there has been an increase in staff to provide continued rehabilitation services to the ever growing number of SCI patients referred to SIRC.
Key focus for the Project department is completion of final reports to the various funding agencies and key focus for the Fundraising department is the writing of a number of proposals for future projects and expenses. It is one thing to have a bigger centre, it is a whole other challenge to keep it operating!
As you can see, SIRC continues to be a hive of activity with juggling of lots of priorities. Kudos to the entire team for keeping up the momentum after what was probably the most challenging year of both their personal and professional lives.
So what am I up to? SIRC’s Annual General Meeting is upcoming in August so I am assisting with the preparation of the Annual Report and other AGM documents. In addition to the required financial reporting, I was also keen to document department achievements other than those related to the 11 projects that were funded last year.
This has given me the immense pleasure of speaking individually with many of the staff in the various departments, gleaning their achievements in the last 12 months. I tell ya, it would put any for-profit organization to shame! I say it again, the SIRC staff are just incredible with their dedication, compassion, respect for one another and the ingenuity they show in problem solving and making things happen despite the challenges that everyone faces in Nepal.
As soon as my AGM work is complete, the plan is formalize a fundraising department (HR plan, process & procedures), implement on-line donation functions both in Nepal and internationally, market SIRC’s conference centre & services to Nepalis and maybe run and event or two in Kathmandu. I bet this list will increase as time progresses. I’ll be kept busy, have no worry!