Diehl Family Social Enterprise Competition’s Grant Recipient│Finalist

Global Peace Exchange at Birmingham-Southern College and Florida State University teamed up together and aided Clinic Nepal to write a grant to enter the Diehl Family Social Enterprise Competition. Clinic Nepal became a Deihl Family Social Enterprise Competition finalist and received a $50,000 grant to build “Meghauli Marketplace: aka. Multipurpose Building” 

Clinic Nepal is developing a village marketplace to bring together a capable community of local farmers and entrepreneurs and give them the visibility they need among the large village development committee. The Multipurpose Building will provide a place for people to share new and innovative technologies, products, and ideas, creating long term economic benefits for the community.


About Diehl Family Social Enterprise Competition

A privately funded competition in partnership with Florida State University is providing a valuable boost to 11 innovative business ventures designed to address problems in communities across the U.S. and the world. The competition, established in January 2013 through a two-year grant from the Ohio-based William and Helen Diehl Family Foundation, also gives a boost to Florida State University’s ongoing initiative to position itself as a national leader in developing students as entrepreneurs and innovators.

 

PAST GPE UGANDA PROJECT│Report From GPE-HQ At FSU

Report By:  Global Peace Exchange│Florida State University (GPE-HQ)

GPE’s Uganda Project partnered with the organization Bright Kids Uganda. Bright Kids Uganda or BKU has been operating since 2000 and is a children’s home located in Entebbe, Uganda. The organization assists children from various backgrounds ranging from street kids, HIV/AIDS orphans, children who have been living at Internally Displaced Peoples’ Camps and those rescued from the rebels in Northern Uganda.Uganda Project

In 2010, with the help of FSU faculty, GPE recognized a need for close and affordable healthcare for the children at BKU and the surrounding population. A team of students spent the summer of 2011 conducting field based research to understand the healthcare needs of the surrounding population, potential sustainability of a clinic, and other necessary market analyses. In 2012, GPE received the True Seminole grant to fund the construction of a sustainable healthcare clinic in Entebbe Village. This soon came to be known as the Gloria Namusoke Memorial medical clinic, named in honor of a BKU child who passed away due to medical neglect at boarding school. Students spent the summer on site, overseeing construction, budget management, the hiring of an on-site nurse, and focused on community outreach. By 2013, the clinic was fully functioning, providing necessary and quality care to the children of BKU and local area. With the success and continual use of the medical clinic, GPE returned in 2013 to begin a clinic expansion to add two additional rooms. Students maintained responsibility of managing constructions finances, labor, and community outreach. Recently, BKU became a Deihl Family Social Enterprise Competition finalist and received a fifty-thousand dollar grant to further develop the clinic to include housing units and renovate a nearby market in order to develop sustainable methods of income for the BKU children’s home.


(Check out Global Peace Exchange’s presence and projects all around the world: GPE Projects│Florida State University (GPE-HQ) and GPE Projects│Birmingham-Southern CollegeGlobal Peace Exchange (GPE) is a not for profit student-run international development organization at Birmingham-Southern College which looks to promote education, engagement and empowerment. It was originally founded in 2006 at Florida State University. It aims to establish relationships with international non-governmental organizations in order to allow students to work on sustainable development projects at the grassroots level. We hope to foster mutual understanding between differing cultures through service, sustainability, and education. On the fall of 2013, Saurav Bhandary and Wesley Chambers, BSC ’16, founded Birmingham-Southern College’s GPE chapter. In the past, our projects have had focus areas such as education, business, the environment, health, and women and youth empowerment. Since our inception in 2006, over 200+ volunteers have traveled to 8 countries around the world. We have had projects in Rwanda, Nepal, Cambodia, Thailand, Ghana, Uganda, Moldova, and Guatemala.) 

50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights movement in Birmingham│April 24, 2013

On April 24, 1963, Birmingham-Southern sophomore Martha “Marti” Turnipseed chose to join seven African-American students at a sit-in at a segregated Woolworth’s food counter in downtown Birmingham. The other students were arrested, and BSC officials told Marti—a third-generation BSC student—that she had to leave campus. She was allowed to return a year later and complete her degree, and died in 1972 in a tragic car accident.

50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights movement in Birmingham│April 24, 2013

50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights movement in Birmingham│April 24, 2013

On April 24th, 2013, BSC President Gen. Charles C. Krulak and Birmingham Mayor William Bell Led more than 1500 students, faculty, alumni, and members of the community on a march from campus to downtown’s Kelly Ingram Park, tracing Marti’s footsteps. All the Global Peace Exchange (GPE) members participated on this March and Celebration in an Honor of Marti Turnipseed ’65. Watch the video to see how it went, and see the video below to hear more from Marti’s brother, Spencer Turnipseed, about why her actions were important.

All the Global Peace Exchange (GPE) members participated on this March and Celebration in an Honor of Marti Turnipseed ’65.

FORWARD, EVER!!

Kathmandu, I’ll Soon Be Seeing You│Cheyenne Trujillo

Written by: Cheyenne Trujillo
(Note: This article was originally published in the Odyssey Media Group, Inc.)

Cheyenne and Sydney

I can’t do this. If I stand in this line any longer, I am either going to throw up or pass out. Although I feel like I have been standing in the line since the age of the dinosaurs, maybe only twenty minutes have passed before I am at the front of the line checking into myplane ride. I have flown plenty of times before, by myself, and yet I have never been so nervous as I am right now. None of the other trips were as important as this one.

On July fourth, most people are shooting off fireworks to celebrate, but I am waiting for my delayed plane to shoot me off into the sky. Thirteen hours till I land in Doha’s airport and another full day till I land in Kathmandu, Nepal. Despite only being there for two weeks, at this moment, I feel like I am going to be gone for forever. My mind blanks, and even though it is 2016 (2073 in Nepal), I think that all communication to my existence in America is severed. I speak no Nepali, and I have never left the country. I look like I’m twelve and too young to be traveling alone. And at the moment, I feel that way too. Just breath.  

I applied for the Global Peace Exchange chapter at BSC when I was having a mid-mid life crisis during first semester; I had an interview in the Spring and a few weeks later, I was informed that I was chosen to be a part of GPE and would be heading to Nepal in the summer. GPE partners with Clinic Nepal, a non-profit organization, to help teach Englishleadership, health, and environmental sustainably and work on improving the different projects that Clinic Nepal has built. I love volunteering and this is an amazing opportunity. I am blessed to have this experience… if I can get over my nerves first. As I stand in the impossible line waiting for my visa, my journey has begun.

Of course Nepal is geographically another country, but I am not prepared for the culture shock that ensures; stray dogs litter the roads, sleeping away the blazing hot day while people calmly walk into chaotic traffic to cross the street. Traffic laws exist, but are ignored just like the serving size of your favorite snack. Horns are constantly honking as a reminder that drivers are sharing the road. Did I mention that it’s hot? Because I am simply sitting in Hari and Sirjana‘s house in Kathmandu, yet I am sweating like I am a runner in the Marathon des Sables in the Saharan desert. This reminds me of home, I think as the hot, humid weather pays homage to Dothan, AL. Just like home. But without air conditioning. Little did I know that Nepal could actually get hotter.

The people of Nepal are really polite and nice, a reminisce of southern hospitality. Visitors are welcomed with Nepali tea and bouquets of flowers (that will later be confiscated by customs). When Anna and Annika, some German volunteers, and I were traveling to Daldale, someone on the bus always checked in with us to make sure that we understood what was going on. We always had clean, cold water to take to our rooms. Along with the other teens and kids staying at the hostel, we explored Daldale, local temples, and the birthplace of Buddha. Nepalese people were patient to explain their customs and language to us when we had questions or did not understand what was being said. Many times. I have never felt so welcomed in my life. Albeit, there is that one guy who insisted on selling me a pashmina no matter how many times I told him no. Don’t let that guy ruin the country for you.

Almost as beautiful as the people are the mountains that are ever-present in the scenery. The drive to Daldale consisted of winding roads with gorgeous views of immense mountains and falling waterfalls. The climb to the waterfalls would have been hot, swarming in mosquitos, lurking with stealthy predators, but to feel the water cascade into one’s hand would have been worth it. Sitting on the balcony of the hostel in the mornings, the clouds surrounded the mountains in mystery; its true height would not be revealed until later that day. In Meghauli, a ride down the river and walk in the Chitwan National Park revealed a jungle teeming with life; deer, monkeys, and exotic birds rushed around us as they scattered from the foreigners passing through their home. While riding on the back of an elephant, we got even closer to the animals and came face to face with rhinos.

Another rivaling beauty is the countless temples built in dedication to their gods. Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha, is like the Epcot of Buddhism. Buddhist temples sponsored by different countries give breaks to those on their pilgrimage and are beautiful works of artfor the tourist. I mean no disrespect to Leonardo da Vinci, but Mona Lisa has nothing on the Great Lotus Temple designed by Germany. Vibrant colors fill paintings depicting the birth of Buddha and his path to enlightenment. Small carvings of animals line the inside where pictures aren’t allowed. No pattern on the wall repeats. Every painting is a new one, allowing the viewer to pay tribute Buddha. In another temple, a giant Buddha rest in the center, guarded by two medium sized Buddhas, and a thousand Buddhas the size of one’s hand circle the ceiling. I favor the regal Shri Lanka temple with it’s cream color and shaded pond where we rested.

I got a fair amount of sight-seeing done in Nepal; however, I came to work and to learn about Clinic Nepal. I helped some with English homework and planted some of the four thousand fruit trees the French volunteers were working hard to complete. In Meghauli, Sydney, Anna, and Annika worked alongside the French students to renovate a kindergarten. GPE volunteers from FSU mainly worked with the scout troop to teach leadership and hygiene. On our first day in Meghauli, we toured the water plant that was providing the municipality with clean water straight to the tap after finding arsenic from the water produced by the hand pumps. Clinic Nepal is revered in Meghauli. And I revere Nepal and its people, Clinic Nepal, and the Bhandary family and friends. Clinic Nepal is working hard to provide for a people so deserving of more. Families opened their doors, willingly and lovingly, to host strangers that are almost completely ignorant of their ways. Sometimes, it seemed like I was surrounded by chaos; buildings were still damaged from the earthquake, landslides delayed our departures, and pollution muddled the air. And people thrived. Kids played futbol in the fields and jumped in the rain. Teenage girls huddled around the TV to watch their romantic drama shows. The adults watched over us if we were their own.

It’s said that people come for the scenic views, and they return for the beautiful people. It’s true. I hope I get to return to Nepal and continue to help expand this inspiring non-profit with the hardworking and genuine family that started it all.

GPE Nepal Project 2016│Report by Sydney Westrick

Report by Sydney Westrick

My name is Sydney Westrick, I graduated from BSC in 2016 with a bachelors in International Studies. However, before my graduation I had the ability to travel extensively throughout the world and the United States from Colorado to Uganda, Africa. So when the opportunity to travel to a little country that was stuck in the middle of two major world powers was available I had to take it, this country was Nepal. Outside of the trekking and environmental communities, Nepal is not well known. It is overshadowed to the south by India and to the north by China. Initially, I knew only a little about Nepal with the little researched I did in the two months leading up to the trip. But after a whirlwind of graduating from college and celebrating in New York City I set off for an adventure into the unknown.13606751_10206417853180846_2189292816834206026_n

I arrived in Kathmandu on June 4 and was greeted with a friendly face ready to take me to my accommodations. The first impression I had was chaos with cars, motorcycles, and people going everyway, not to mention the fumes, car horns, and heat. I stayed in Kathmandu to acquaint myself with my new surroundings as well as the culture of Nepal. After four days and many miles of walking through the various temples in Kathmandu, I set my sights on Daldale which was about 6 hours to the south. Again when I arrived in late afternoon I was greeted by the hosts of the Hostel and some of the children that I would be teaching English to for the month and a half. After a cold coke and a nice nap I went on examining my new surroundings. I ended up on the top of the roof overlooking the flat land of the Therai region of Nepal.

A quick background of the Therai: this area is home to 80% of the population of Nepal and is mostly farmland with very fertile soil. It is as flat as Illinois, or a piece of paper, and butts up next to some mountain ranges that run east-west cutting Nepal into thirds. 

I stayed in Daldale for a month and a half and most of that time I taught English at a kindergarten that was right next door to the hostel. I usually spent the morning into the early afternoon playing with the children in the kindergarten while the older kids were at school. Around 4:30 – 5 pm I would start teaching the first group of children ranging from 11-14 years old. I taught them for an hour and then I would teach the older kids, ages 16-19, for another hour ending my teaching around 7 pm. After teaching, me and some of the older children would take a walk around the town and just talk about anything that came to mind. At the end of June my duties changed from teaching to working around the hostel. This was a result of the children studying for their exams. I would be helping some of the children study for the exams one day and then the next be out in the fields planting rice or helping dig out a patch of land for the harvest. Each day was a new adventure and usually would end up with the boys playing soccer and the girls talking while they were working.

Although I was only there for that short amount of time the children and the people who worked at the hostel became like family. It was a sad feeling knowing that I would have to leave them soon. However, about a week before I left another volunteer from BSC, Cheyanne, and two German volunteers arrived in Daldale. It was nice to have some westerners with me as we explored the rest of Nepal together. We head to Lumbini, on the border with India, a couple of days after they arrived and went to see the birthplace of Lord Buddha. This place was amazing! It was a town full of shrines dedicated to the Buddha from various countries around the world. We only had the ability to see 6 of the 12 shrines at the town. Although we never saw every single shrine we were able to see the importance of religion in the lives of Nepalese. Even for the minority of Buddhist. Nepal being a country with an 80% majority of Hindus.  

After our adventures at Lumbini and Daldale we headed two hours south of Daldale to a little town called Meghauli. This town was the headquarters for Clinic Nepal the organization that GPE is affiliated with. It was also the place where we hooked up with 12 French students and worked on renovating a kindergarten in the community. The first couple of days me, Cheyanne, and the two German volunteers got to see the famous Chitwan National Jungle. We went for a hike in the jungle, went on a canoe ride, hopped on the back of an elephant and went to see some rhinos and jungle life up close and finally took the elephant for a bath in the river. After our days of relaxing and seeing the place we jumped in with the French students and helped with the kindergarten. After a week we lost the French students as they had to return to France and Cheyanne as she had to go back to United States. So it was just me and the two German girls, Rudy an American, and some locals to finish up with the kindergarten. We ended up finishing the project in about 3 weeks and upon finishing me, Anna, and Annika (German students) headed north to get out of the heat and to go on a little vacation. We head to Pokhara which is about 6 hours north of Meghauli and 6 hours west of Kathmandu.

Pokhara is known as the main tourist attraction in Nepal and was very westernized. Here we had the ability to do some souvenir shopping, eat pizza, hangout at the bars, and the lake that was to the north of town. Pokhara is also known as the jump-off point for the famous trekking into the Himalayan Mountains. We decided to do a day hike with some of the locals and ended up 3000 meters high in the foothills of the Himalayans at the Australian Base Camp. We arrived there around 5 pm and relaxed or played football with some of the locals that lived in the little town. Around 7:30 we set our sights on making a campfire but the rain came and shooed us inside to the cafeteria area. Here we spent the night talking and playing cards. The next morning we woke up to a crisp cold and a magnificent view of the Himalayas right out front of our room. We returned to Pokhara the next day and said goodbye to our new found friends. The next couple days we spend walking around Pokhara before I said goodbye and head back to Kathmandu to leave for home.

After spending two and a half months in Nepal through GPE I had the ability to see what life was like for the regular Nepalese, their struggles and their unique relationships with each other and foreigners that have the privilege to be invited into their lives. Nepal left me with many lessons learned. These lessons include:

  1. The importance of friends and family
  2. No matter where we are in the world, the languages we speak, or the foods we eat we all have the same desires and fears
  3. As westerners most of us do not understand the importance of work
  4. That toilet paper, air conditioning, and clean water are a luxury
  5. On an international security/international studies stand point Nepal has a lot of resources and a very strategic position that the government can exploit if they can become stable enough to identify them.

GPE gave me the instrument to examine the lives of these people up close and personal. It has become a jumping off point for my future endeavors into the international security scene and a community of friends not only from Nepal but France and Germany too that I will keep treasured into the coming years.

History of the Global Peace Exchange Nepal Project

In summer of 2012, GPE sent four FSU students for 12 weeks to establish a partnership with Clinic Nepal, a non-profit organization located in Meghauli and Daldale, Chitwan, Nepal. Hari Bhandary, founder of Clinic Nepal, started this organization in 1997 with a vision to provide the local community access to clean water, sanitary facilities, healthcare, and education. During this first trip, volunteers were able assist in the expansion and improvement of the Friendship Health Clinic, Wolfgang Linke Kindergarten, Friendship Scout Troop, and Asha Ko Kiran Children’s Hostel through volunteering time daily and facilitating key donations specific to each entity. Most importantly, the volunteers were able to critically evaluate how future GPE volunteers could contribute more effectively and sustainably.

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Nepal Development Project 2013 Team with Sunil Paudel, GPE Nepal Advisor.

In spring of 2013, Hari Bhandary came to visit Florida State University to speak about Clinic Nepal and to endorse the work of GPE in Meghauli and Daldale. In summer of 2013, GPE sent a team of six FSU students for ten weeks and were joined by Saurav Bhandary from Birmingham Southern College (BSC) to continue the project. Volunteers facilitated a summer camp on leadership, environmental sustainability, and health and hygiene. This included challenge course facilitation, donating 1,500 reusable bags and installing several concrete dustbins at local chouks (Nepali for intersection), and organizing the scouts to teach the kindergarten and local community about the environment and hand-washing. Volunteers also taught English to local community members and conducted interviews with Clinic Nepal special treatment patients.

Saurav Bhandary and Wesley Chambers officially founded Bimingham-Southern College’s GPE chapter on the fall of 2013.

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Nepal Development Project 2014

In summer of 2014, GPE sent five FSU student volunteers for ten weeks. They were joined by two BSC students for a third year in Nepal. The volunteers continued the environmental project greatly supported by Hari and the entire Meghauli community and to facilitated a summer camp for both the scouts and hostel children on dental and personal hygiene, self-defense and yoga, and self-esteem. Volunteers also continued teaching English and implemented the GPE Kindle Project which involved a loan system of three to five Kindles to the older community in order to counter the unsustainable practice of bringing donated physical books with light-weight e-readers that can double as English learning devices.

Unfortunately, due to the devastating earthquake which occurred in Nepal shortly before the volunteers were set to leave for the project, the Nepal Project was not continued during the summer of 2015.

In summer of 2016, GPE sent a team of four Florida State University students who were joined by two students from Birmingham Southern College for a fifth year to continue Nepal project.

GPE NEPAL PROJECT 2013│Detailed Project Report

We have all been very busy in Meghauli, where the opportunities to assist Clinic Nepal are seemingly limitless, as are the ambitions and the willingness of the community members here. To accommodate this, we have split our team up into three groups, with two team members focusing on each facet of our project in order to better serve and understand the need there as well as plan for years to come. We definitely could not accomplish all that we do without Saurav, our constant guide and savior, and Gabby, our British friend who is one part boundless energy, two parts comic relief, and all innovation.

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Nepal Development Project 2013

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Nepal Team 2013

To begin, we joined Meagan and Gabby, two medical interns, and two Nepali volunteer doctors at one of the health camps provided by Clinic Nepal, which are rare in the hot summer and monsoon season. We are working on gathering more information on what a medical intern does on a daily basis at the Friendship Clinic as well as how they can participate in the health camps, what it takes to implement a health camp, what current special treatments are needed by Clinic Nepal patients, and how GPE can contribute more to this facet of Clinic Nepal in the future.

Gabby has also written a report on her daily efforts at the clinic. Additionally, Joa has discussed with Singh the possibility of providing menstrual cups, such as the Diva Cup, at future gynecological health camps, in order to further promote the Clinic Nepal’s efforts to reduce unnecessary waste and provide a more sanitary and sustainable alternative to women. Really excited about this, because it could make a huge difference in the lives of young girls going to school as well as all the women are so busy every day doing housework, taking care of their children, working in the fields, and often balancing several other responsibilities on top of that. Currently, cloth pads, often inconvenient and unsanitary, and disposable pads, expensive and also uncomfortable, are the main sources. Menstruation is a stigma in Nepali culture where menstruating women often should not cook, enter the kitchen, or sometimes touch male members of their family, so the added inconvenience of having a period, especially without Midol, heating pads, and other Western comforts, can be enough to push a young girl to stop going to school or miss out on other opportunities.

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Meagan, a medical intern from Canada, checking blood pressure and heart rate at Clinic Nepal health camp.

Sophia, Gabby, and Isabela have been working  with the Wolfgang Linke Kindergarten teachers in order to further improve the content and efficiency of the Montessori style education offered. There are three age groups: Play (2-3 years old), Nursery (3-4 years old), and Lower Kindergarten (LKG) (4-5 years old). Last year, WLK only had Play and Nursery groups, but in the past year WLK continues to grow and different volunteers come to contribute their time and effort (more useful art murals decorate the walls this year!) and more tables (following in the same fashion as ours last year), so they have added LKG and plan to add an Upper Kindergarten (UKG) soon. Each class presents its own challenges and opportunities.

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GPE team heading to the Wolfgang Linke Kindergarten

In the beginning, the GPE Nepal would help conduct lessons and corral children, but it became apparent that this would not be sustainable once they left Meghauli.

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Instead, volunteers began to more closely observe WLK and most importantly listen to and brainstorm with the teachers specifically about wanted to improve or change. The result has been that the teachers believe in their own ability and creativity, which has led them to work on establishing a structure to their daily routine. Now there is a rotation schedule to replace the old system of one teacher per age group. Under the new schedule, each teacher has one or two subjects they specialize, with cooking duty rotating. The idea was all their own, and the volunteers merely helped facilitate the implementation in a manner that could be more easily sustained.

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Rotating daily routine schedule that Sophia and Isabela helped WLK teachers to design and implement

Ryan also started leading morning yoga at the beginning of every day which the teachers have now taken over and Joa is working on painting a small mural on the wall that illustrates the positions. Ian, Gabby, and Joa painted a mural that is currently being used to teach colors and shapes in the LKG room. Tess and Joa also painted a small mural in the main room that lists the days of the week.  The team also improved the alphabet wall mural in the Nursery room from last year.

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Fixed the border and the signature on the alphabet wall mural, the paint of which doesn’t seem like it will hold forever, so we are thinking of bringing clear coat next year.

In addition to implementing a new daily schedule, the volunteers have been having intermediate English lessons with the teachers every day after the students go home. The hope is that this will greatly improve the communication between the teachers and future volunteers as well as improve the ability to teach the kindergarten students correct English pronunciation and phrases. The teachers will have notes and worksheets so they can recall the English lessons and be able to show new volunteers their progress in order to keep learning English throughout the year. Additionally, a basic English language instruction book has been provided as a reference for new teachers to the kindergarten.

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Sophia teaching English to the Wolgang Linke Kindergarten teachers.

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A bit of Montessori style education philosophy hanging up in the Wolfgang Linke Kindergarten.

Ian and Joa have been working to plan the summer camp with the Clinic Nepal Friendship Scout Troop. The language barrier between volunteers and scouts can be difficult but is ameliorated by the presence of Saurav acting as translator and much more, and it is obvious that the scouts derive worthwhile perspectives on how to interact with their peers. Ian, with ample experience in team-building challenge course exercises, has led the scouts through games that require a team effort, positive group dynamics, and innovative thinking.  These activities test the scouts’ abilities to communicate with each other, work together to accomplish tasks, and recognize progress and regression within their team. We combined debriefs of these activities with lessons on leadership and follower-ship, culture and communication, and working as a team to achieve a shared vision. This effort has proven to be a favorite component for the scouts because all of the learning occurs either during or after a simple but challenging game, and it can be applied to their efforts in Meghauli.

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Ian, Abhishek, Gabby, Ram, Ankit, Joa, and Suman at a scout meeting.

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Scouts participating in communication challenge course game called Silent Opera, in which this group cannot speak but must give nonverbal instructions to the person who must verbally communicate those same instructions to a blindfolded person behind them.

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Shiva, Ushtav, Sonam, Abishek, Ian, Prashant, and Subash (Tiger team) playing Nepali Capture the Flag.

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Ryan, Isabel,a Sophia, and Saurav with a tikka-covered Gabby, Srijana, and scouts at Gabby’s farewell ceremony.

In the coming week, this new knowledge will be put to the test as the scouts engage their community in order to affect their own positive, sustainable changes. We encouraged them to pursue their collective vision for improving Meghauli after we helped them define it, by simply asking questions, such as, “What do you want to see change in your community?” The scouts all agreed on three main areas and have split up into groups to organize their efforts: teaching their community and WLK about the importance of personal hygiene and water sanitation, teaching their community about taking care of the environment and using the reusable bags GPE Nepal is donating, and improving their scout room and scout group. More on that to come later!

Volunteers are also incorporating interactive lessons on subjects of particular interest to the scouts, including art, music, science, and English.

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Ryan teaching about the life of a star, the solar system, and space expeditions.

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Saurav decked out in a crown of paper crafts made by the scouts.

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Ushtav, Tess, Laxuman, Sunam, Ram, and Saurav goofing around after a meeting.

Tess and Ryan have focused on organizing English language lessons for roughly 30 adults all varying in age, location, occupation, and reasons for requesting and attending the English classes. Some want to improve communication with their English-speaking guests, while others simply wish to help the occasional lost traveler. Local businessmen and women would like to expand their business’ capabilities, while young high school graduates hope to increase their potential employment opportunities.

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Santa, a housewife, Sita, a student, Chandu and children, Prince and Binti, another student, a shopkeeper, and two brothers all in the basic English language class.

Four classes have been established, each catering to a different level of English language knowledge: one at the basic level (Ryan and Joa), one at the intermediate level (Ian and Gabby), one at the advanced level (Tess), and the fourth class is with the WLK teachers (Sophia, Gabby, and Isabela).

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Ryan and Isabela teaching the basic English language class.

An extensive amount of research, some helpful donations provided by family of GPE volunteers, and a lot of trial and error has resulted in relatively successful English language learning despite lack of training. However, four weeks of lessons every morning (7am-8am) is not nearly enough time to learn a foreign language. Additionally, all students face various obstacles preventing them from attending consistently, such as rice planting season, mandatory housework, tourist home-stays, and school exams.

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There are many downsides to our project being in the summer, including the unrelenting heat, except in the time of monsoon, where it is also the season for rice planting, making it difficult for many students to come. We hope to be able to come at a different season in the future.

We also found that allowing young scout students to attend was discouraging to adults and we spent a couple days confused as to why the adults were no longer attending until we found the reason and told the scouts they could no longer attend. In addition to attendance, we have been collecting other data including occupation, reasons for learning, best time of day, best time of year, and best location for future lessons. With all of this knowledge in mind, we hope to plan English lessons for the project next year around these needs, including knowing the right time to come, the right time of day to teach, and the right kind of class structure to implement.

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Ryan facilitating role play conversations between Santa, housewife, and Sita, student, in basic English class.

Accordingly, both Meghauli and Global Peace Exchange want this to be a sustainable project, and in order to continue we need your help. If you are an adventurous, motivated student looking to take initiative and be a part of a rewarding experience that directly benefits communities abroad, join GPE this semester. Immersing yourself in service within another culture does not only help others, but also allows for self-development in a unique, well-rounded way. As you can see, we need a varied group composed of individuals interested in early education, the medical field, teaching English as a foreign language, community development, leadership and team-building, and, of course, sustainable development.

In our free time some of us have gone on a walk or a boat ride or an elephant ride through the Chitwan National Park to see rhino and more up close. We also all went for an elephant bath, which was an experience any of us will never forget.

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Altogether in the river for an elephant bath!

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Saurav attempting to recreate some fancy elephant tricks.

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Ian and Suman cooking corn on the roof before barbecuing some of the best, freshest chicken any of us have had.

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Valid proof that the local geese have been stealing our makai (Nepali for corn)!

We now leave you with some other worthy shots taken in and around Meghauli.

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Buffalo interrupting traffic in Bharatpur, town near Meghauli.

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Boys fishing out of the cola (Nepali for river) in Meghauli.

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Sunset

 NAMASTE!

Thumka Housing Project│Post Nepal Earthquake 2015

Report from Clinic Nepal, Inc.

Following the devastating earthquakes of 2015, Clinic Nepal led this project to rebuild the village of Thumka, Gorkha District. The construction of 31 houses and 1 community building was completed in 18 months. In May, 2 years after the earthquakes, the villagers gathered to celebrate with representatives from Clinic Nepal, the Nepalese Army, local dignitaries, and volunteers and friends from the international community. This is a reflection on how this project started and what it has meant for the Chepang people of Thumka. Thumka Awas Nirman Aayojana, Bhumlichowk-8, Thumka.

Shortly after the 2015 earthquakes, Clinic Nepal sought to help a community that was particularly devastated by the disaster. With the help of the Nepalese Army in identifying Thumka Village, Gorkha District, Clinic Nepal took on the project of constructing 31 homes and 1 community building for the 280 residents. Most of the existing dwellings of the Chepang tribe were destroyed by the earthquake. The villagers collected local building supplies, and many materials from the rubble were repurposed into the new structures. In this hard-hit region, and all over Nepal, earthquake recovery faced some logistical setbacks. Shortage of materials and transportation difficulties due to political strife with India slowed the construction. High fuel costs added to the expense of transporting the goods. The project came in over budget due to this and the work took a little longer to finish. However, construction was completed in 18 months at an actual cost of $78,000 USD. The success was a result of teamwork and strong leadership. Clinic Nepal supplied the needed remaining materials and transportation of supplies, though it was no easy task to reach the work site! For supplies to reach the village they had to be carried mostly by hand up the steep hill after crossing the Trishuli River. Metal pipes, cement, corrugated tin roofing sheets, tools and more, had to be hauled up manually. The building of the earthquake resistant structures was done primarily by villagers under the leadership of the project manager and with help from local and international volunteers. The initial blueprints were modified at the request of the villagers to better meet their needs. The desired changes included the building of outdoor kitchens and enclosed latrines outside the homes, which reflected flexibility and cultural sensitivity.

On the evening of May 4th, the residents of Thumka hosted roughly 20 guests in their new homes. Commanding Officer of the Gorkha district, Lt. Col Parbat Raj Giri and his team from the Nepalese Army joined in an evening of food, music and celebration. Many Clinic Nepal staff, friends and family from Kathmandu and Meghauli were also present. The whole team enjoyed the hospitality of the locals, which was a very memorable and pleasant experience. The presence of international guests, Dr. Signe Berg Sondergaard and her mother Margaret, from Denmark, and Jill Downing from the United States of America added more delectation. Dr. Sondergaard had visited Thumka previously with the mobile clinic to provide healthcare for the villagers, and made the trek back to Gorkha for this special event. She commented on the honor she felt to be a part of this experience. As a volunteer doctor, it is her goal to provide care where it is needed most, but it was the villagers’ gratitude that was most overwhelming to her. It was very clear to Dr. Sondergaard the pride and joy the villagers have taken in this project. The guests arrival in Thumka had been an adventurous one to say the least. After traffic delays and a rain deluge, the Trishuli River was crossed by hand pulled cable car and the travelers set out on the steep 2-hour climb to the village. Through rain, hail, lightning and thunder they trekked up the muddy ridge in the dark- nothing would stop the celebration of this project! Upon arrival, they were greeted warmly by the villagers and treated to a local meal of native roots and vegetables that the tribe harvested from the forest, such as wild nettles and yams. Many households set up beds and went out of their way to ensure the comfort of their guests. Taking part in the party was a special treat for Jill Downing, who noted that the local village experience is priceless, and hosting travelers like this in the future is just one idea for the sustainable economic progress of Thumka that has been discussed.

On the next morning, the 5th of May, a special plaque, bearing the date and recognizing all those involved, was hung on one of the new village homes. The speakers praised the work and enthusiasm of the villagers, and also thanked them for the unity their effort produced. On behalf of the chief guest, Major General Ramindra Chhetri (PhD), Lt. Col Giri inaugurated the plaque. He gave thanks to Clinic Nepal for the coordination and appreciable effort. He further candidly responded to the queries raised by the locals the prior evening, especially regarding the matter of joining the Nepalese Army. He advised them to apply and face the competition; also he informed them about the reserved seats for minorities. Hari Bhandary, Founder and Chairman of Clinic Nepal, spoke next about the project. He started at the very beginning, on the day of the first earthquake. He recalled how terrifying the experience was for his own family, and yet he knew he had to help others right away. In immediate response to the earthquake, Clinic Nepal distributed tarpaulins, medical supplies, food and materials for shelter (corrugated sheets) in the earthquake affected communities. Later, additional relief materials were supplied to local communities in remote areas unreachable by the Clinic Nepal team. This was done in cooperation with the Nepalese Army, the Nepalese Army Wives Association, and the Armed Police Family Women’s Association. But this was only the beginning of the work since Clinic Nepal did not stop here. Hari sought the advice of the Nepalese Army as to who he could help best with the limited resources that he had. Once Thumka Village was identified as a match, Hari, Clinic Manager Singh Kuwar, their engineer Dhurba Raj Adhikari, and project manager Manaballev Wagle made their first visit to the village. They arrived in the evening after hiking in the rainy darkness. Hari remembered the dire living conditions they observed; the villagers slept outside and had nothing, yet they offered their visitors food and shelter for the night. Due to fear and shyness towards the outside world, it took time to coax the villagers into discussing the project with Clinic Nepal’s team. During his speech at the morning ceremony in their village, Hari asked them to look at how far they had come. Everything they have now is a result of their hard work and willingness to improve their lives and accept help. It has made everyone proud to see this progress and initiative. He went on to mention that there is more to do. Clinic Nepal wants to see Thumka village prosper and is committed to helping them build a sustainable economy.

Later that morning more than 150 people gathered to celebrate the completion of the project. All of the guests from the previous evening hiked down with many of the villagers to the centrally located ceremony tent. Members of the media recorded the event that formally marked the turnover of the village homes to the residents. Present at the ceremony was chief guest Army Major General Ramindra Chhetri, and members of the Nepalese Army. A strong turnout of 100 Chepang villagers traveled to take part, and many friends and family of Clinic Nepal were in attendance. The Committee Chairman Mr. Janak Chepang led the official ceremony. In his speech, Mr. Chepang thanked Clinic Nepal for all they have done. Beyond the housing project, the Clinic has assisted the tribe in many other areas, including healthcare. He recalled a past visit from the mobile health clinic, when it was discovered a child of the tribe had a heart condition. The trip to the hospital resulted in open heart surgery for the child, which saved his life. Today that child is back in school and thriving! Also speaking at the event was Mr. Shiva Bhurtel, Chairman of the Meghauli Drinking Water Project. He praised the hard work and dedication shown by Clinic Nepal to their country. Over the years, the organization has improved health, education and sanitation conditions for thousands of Nepali citizens. Certificates of recognition were given to local committee members acknowledging their hard work and leadership, amidst much applause and many smiles! The Major General and his wife, Shanta Chhetri, handed over a final gift of money from Clinic Nepal. The amount of 15,000 rupees ($150.00 USD) was gifted to the female head of household for each of the 31 families for start-up support.

Major General Chhetri spoke of the pride the villagers must take in their new homes, and their responsibility to upkeep them and maintain their strength. At the end of the ceremony, another special partnership was struck up: the headmaster of the local school received a personal pledge from Major General Chhetri to supply the school with a new computer! The Major General wove together education and opportunity in his speech. He spoke to the young people of Chepang of the criteria that must be met to serve in the Army and how education is the key to meeting those standards. He sent a positive message of encouragement that higher standards in society start with education. Investment in education will link the villagers and the greater community together productively.

Over the last 30 years, many of the Chepang people have become more civilized in their lifestyle. Previously, most lived in the jungle and hills and foraged food to eat; now many have adapted to a more agrarian lifestyle. The Chepang are experiencing much growth in many areas, also in  regards to education. A group of international volunteers came through the Clinic to the lower village where the children of Thumka attend school. New school materials such as whiteboards, pens, instructional books, and more, were donated. The volunteers upgraded the school aesthetically by cleaning and painting inside and out. More information about their organization can be found here: http:www.openingtheworld.org. The school’s headmaster attended Friday’s ceremony and voiced his appreciation for the work and gifts given selflessly by the volunteers and the Clinic. He is optimistic about the future, a sentiment that was echoed throughout the day. In his speech, project manager Manaballev Wagle commented on the many positive changes he has witnessed in the village. He encouraged the tribe to plan ahead to sustain themselves, and gave ideas. He also praise the huge upgrade in health and safety standards among the villagers. The introduction of planned kitchens and latrines has promoted proper hygiene, which in turn has produced much better overall health. Committee Secretary Mr. Chandra Chepang stated he had no doubt about the integrity of the new houses and improvement to daily life. He expressed the safety he felt from learning to plan for the future, and his gratitude towards the organizations that have helped the village. Mutual respect, offerings and handshakes concluded this memorable experience for all involved.

Clinic Nepal hosted the ceremony to celebrate the completion of this project, and bring together the different groups that have worked hard to make this happen. The result has provided a much higher standard of living for the 280 people of Thumka Village. We are pleased to report that Clinic Nepal’s initial goal, to help mitigate the devastating consequences of the 2015 earthquakes, has been met and exceeded. The pride of the villagers and the desire to improve their lives is a direct result of the time and money invested in them. Special thanks to the many volunteers, supporters and donors who gave to this successful project. We couldn’t have done it without you!

Namaste and Dhanyabhad!!


Global Peace Exchange’s Nepal Earthquake Relief Campaign│2015

The month of April marked the two-year anniversary of Nepal’s devastating earthquake of 2015. The 7.8 magnitude earthquake violently shook Nepal on April 25, 2015, leaving more than 10,000 people dead and thousands more injured. Nepal suffered from 120 aftershocks following the original earthquake, the worst reaching a magnitude of 7.3. It sent buildings crumbling, leaving countless families homeless. More than 500,000 houses were completely destroyed, and over 250,000 houses were damaged. As of now, only around 31,000 earthquake survivors have rebuilt their homes. That said, more than 700,000 houses still need to be rebuilt, and sadly very few families are receiving the funds promised by the government of Nepal. As winter is just around the corner, some survivors are still struggling to return to normal lives. Two years following a catastrophic earthquake, Nepal is still cleaning up from the disaster that killed thousands of people and destroyed cities. 

Following the 2015 earthquake in Nepal, Global Peace Exchange then immediately started raising donations for the victims of Nepal Earthquake. With the influences and connections of General Chuck Krulak, then Birmingham-Southern College’s President, Global Peace Exchange would be featured in the local news media including CBS, FOX, NBC, and Alabama Media Group, as we garnered support for international assistance. The support we received from the General Krulak, BSC and FSU community, GPE Alumni, and our supporter here and abroad was absolutely overwhelming. 

The raised donations were sent to a local non-profit organization called Clinic Nepal, and the donations contributed towards their project, Thumka Housing Project- building 31 houses and 1 community health post in a very rural village of Nepal. Clinic Nepal worked for the past 2 years on this Housing Project in the wake of destruction left by the 2015 earthquakes. The final project report from Clinic Nepal has been posted at the very top of this page. The report strives to detail the process of rebuilding so that donors and supporters will know the effect of their efforts. With much gratitude and respect, THANK YOU to all who have made this possible! We, Global Peace Exchange FSU and BSC, are forever grateful for the support we have had from BSC community, FSU community, and all our supporters here and abroad.

GPE President Saurav Bhandary interviewed by WIAT

GPE President Saurav Bhandary (flanked by other members) as he is interviewed by WIAT CBS42 on how members of the community can help the Nepal Earthquake Relief effort — with Ansley Tomlin, Gavi Kaplan, and Wesley Chambers.

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End of 2017 Nepal Project│Global Peace Exchange

Nepal Project 2017

Nepal Development Project 2017│Global Peace Exchange

Global Peace Exchange’s Nepal Development Project 2017 officially came to an end this week. Thanks to our Project Director, Jen Concepcion for leading this year’s team and successfully completing the project. We couldn’t have done this without our dedicated and hard-working GPE volunteers. We would also like to express our sincere THANKS and appreciation to Clinic Nepal, Inc. for partnering with us for the past six years, and providing opportunities for GPE volunteers to participate in the various sustainable projects. When we started this Nepal Project back in 2012, the hope was that students achieve a shared understanding of the common human struggle to survive, and a more complete understanding of the challenges of living in developing countries. We also believe that the only way one can learn to appreciate different cultures is to experience them. And through various GPE Projects, we were able to achieve just that. We really enjoyed working closely with the local people of Meghauli and Daldale, and we look forward to returning back next year to continue the Project for a seventh year. Now that the local people are more familiar about Global Peace Exchange and the work we do, they are both more receptive and supportive of our effort. We have built stronger relationships with the local community, and the mutual trust is stronger than ever. Thank you Florida State University, Birmingham-Southern College, Birmingham-Southern College Student Government Association, GPE Advisory Board Members, GPE-BSC Advisors, Our Supporters, and Nepal Project Advisors for your continuous support. We are very lucky and extremely blessed to have received help and support from so many wonderful people. We have accomplished so much in just six short years, and we are beyond excited to keep continuing this project in the future.

Global Peace Exchange Nepal Project Team 2017: Jen Concepcion Andrew McMahon Sophia Lisandra Alfaro Meena Barakam Chelsea Gow, Bryan Acuna. Special Thanks to General Chuck Krulak for helping me start Birmingham Southern GPE chapter and being our biggest supporter from the DAY ONE.


Posted By:
Saurav Bhandary, Global Peace Exchange Advisor (2016-Present)
Co-Founder and President, GPE chapter at Birmingham-Southern College (2013-2016)
Co-Founder of GPE Nepal Development Project (2012-Present)

Nepal Project 2K13

Friendship Scout Troop │GPE Nepal Project ’13

Final Report from Meena Barakam│GPE Daldale Project 2017

Written by Meena Barakam

“I cannot believe my time in Nepal is coming to an end. My paintings in the LKG room of the Asha Ko Kiran Kindergarten in Daldale are nearly complete although the jungle scene needs a few finishing touches. I was able to start painting the domestic animals but two animals that the teacher requested are still remaining. But, I plan to return next year and continue painting the school as they are building more rooms that will also be a part of the school. Here are some pictures of my finished paintings. I’m currently in Kathmandu, and I already miss the people in Daldale so much! They treated me like family and I feel like they are my family too! I will definitely be back, but until then it’s see you later Nepal!”

“Dhanyabhad and Fheri Vetaula!” 
Nepali Translation: (Thank You and May Our Paths Cross Again In the Future)

Chitwan National Park│GPE Nepal 2017

With our project winding down, we took some time to enjoy some of the amazing adventures offered in and around Meghauli. These activities include an elephant safari, an elephant bath, and a trip to see the sunset over the river by the Chitwan National Park. Needless to say, we have all been immensely impacted by our time in Meghauli and by the people we met there. We would like to thank GPE, all the people of Meghauli, Clinic Nepal, and especially the Bhandary family for allowing us to partake in such an amazing experience. GPE Nepal Team 201720507432_1631399230235083_6847978780767474570_o20449008_1631400223568317_25956630127976700_o (1)20506993_1631396673568672_4706436796752472191_o20507422_1631397626901910_3191948203245174850_o20424197_1631399706901702_4619905609056591082_o20414108_1631397336901939_2032408219739987271_o20507387_1631399990235007_1749587557336418321_o20507493_1631398156901857_7014977552670035260_o20414203_1631400216901651_9048853235104533777_o20414284_1631398350235171_9181295567178654382_o20424011_1631399160235090_4107063118441294071_o

“Dhanyabhad and Fheri Vetaula!” 
Nepali Translation: (Thank You and May Our Paths Cross Again In the Future)

Completion of GPE 2017 Nepal Project│Meghauli Project

GPE Nepal Team 2017

GPE Nepal Development Project Team 2017

Global Peace Exchange’s Nepal Development Project 2017 finally came to an end this week. Thanks to our Project Director, Jen Concepcion for leading this year’s team and successfully completing the project. We couldn’t have done this without our dedicated and hard-working GPE volunteers. We would also like to THANK Clinic Nepal, Inc. for partnering with us for the past six years, and providing opportunities for GPE volunteers to participate in the various sustainable projects. When we started this Nepal Project back in 2012, the hope was that students achieve a shared understanding of the common human struggle to survive, and a more complete understanding of the challenges of living in developing countries. We also believe that the only way one can learn to appreciate different cultures is to experience them. And through various GPE Projects, we were able to achieve just that. We really enjoyed working closely with the local people of Meghauli and Daldale, and we look forward to returning back next year to continue the Project. Thank you Florida State University, Birmingham-Southern College, Birmingham-Southern College Student Government Association, GPE Advisory Board Members, GPE-BSC Advisors, Our Supporters, and Nepal Project Advisors for your continuous support.

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GPE Nepal Project Team Members: Jen Concepcion (Project Director), Bryan Acuna, Sophia Lisandra Alfaro, Chelsea Gow, Andrew McMahon and Meena Barakam.

“Dhanyabhad and Fheri Vetaula!” 
Nepali Translation: (Thank You and May Our Paths Cross Again In the Future)