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27 Mar 24

Meet Prakash: Social mobiliser

“The role of Social Mobiliser is crucial because in each and every project, staff from other locations join us and they do not know local customs and traditions, so I am an important person in the project.”

Prakash is PHASE’s Social Mobiliser for our UK Aid Match Start Strong Project in Rugin. He lives locally and so understands the community he lives in and is invaluable to ensuring the success of the project from start to finish.

What is a Social Mobiliser?  

Social Mobilisers are recruited locally from the area, and bring extensive knowledge of the local community, challenges and vulnerable groups specific to the local context. They have key involvement in beneficiary selection, delivery, communication and feedback throughout projects.

Before Prakash joined PHASE, he was a respected teacher in a local school. He has been a Social Mobiliser for 5 years with PHASE and like all PHASE Nepal staff, works 6 days a week, usually 10 am – 5 pm. He has a varied workload, supporting Auxiliary Nurse Midwives and Agricultural Technicians working with our Start Strong beneficiaries, in their health and agricultural activities. Before Start Strong began, he was already instrumental in mobilising his community to attend the Health Post more generally, visiting door to door, promoting Village Cleaning Days and being a strong link between PHASE and the community to raise awareness of their activities, building trust, connection and understanding of the benefits that PHASE can bring to the community.

Prakash ensures that ANMS never work alone, supporting them to engage with patients whether encouraging attendance at Antenatal Classes or Mother’s Meetings or with agricultural technicians at Farmers Groups. He also supports with reporting and register verification, understanding who needs to be prioritised for activities as demand allows due to his local knowledge of community members.

Prakash covers all of the Rugin area, (see map above) comprising of 6 settlements scattered around the mountainous region. He visits all the settlements once a month, some are 4-6 hours walk from Rugin (where he is based) and where the Auxiliary Nurse Midwives have their PHASE Staff House. He has to walk faster in the Winter as he has less daylight hours to cover the same distance, due to the shorter days.

Start Strong Project

Prakash has been involved from the very start and supported PHASE Staff to conduct the initial baseline survey that assessed the community’s needs. He coordinated the community to ensure that the mothers were available and engaged so that the PHASE Staff could ask their questions and collect the data they needed. PHASE Staff recorded their answers using a digital platform called KOBO Toolbox to ensure the data was recorded safely for each participant. His skills were needed to translate some technical words into the local languages as not everyone speaks the same Nepali language due to the remoteness, so variations of explanations were necessary to make sure that everyone understood the same questions.

PHASE has been active in Bajura for some years and so has a good reputation. By having a local person such as himself to support when asking questions, helped mothers trust the process even more and support them to open up when being asked about their needs and behaviours. Prakash currently lives in a house next to the ANM House, he previously lived in an upper settlement but moved down with his family to be closer to the PHASE office.

Prakash enjoys being a social mobiliser as he helps coordination with the community and is respected by local people as he gives them advice and information about PHASE activities.

He says that the job does not come without challenges. PHASE works with the most vulnerable, for the Start Strong Project this is strictly defined by female beneficiaries who are pregnant or lactating mothers and mothers with children under 5, or mothers with malnourished children and mothers with disabilities. This means that not everyone in the community can get the specific Start Strong support for a good reason, but he has the skills to explain the project aims and its processes, so he can explain the reasons behind beneficiary selection and group formation so there is no conflict or upset about allocated resources  such as poultry or vegetable  or mushroom support, or when food distributions are necessary for malnourished children so their mothers can make Sarbottham Pitho superflour.

Prakash says his teaching background helped him prepare to be a Social Mobiliser – imparting information, explaining concepts and managing conflict. When he was involved in the setting up of Farmers Groups, he supported the beneficiaries to decide amongst themselves who received the different support elements – chickens, vegetable or mushroom support, even though most people all said they wanted chickens! Now Start Strong is in Year 2, people have a better understanding of the processes and have listened to his messages so conflict is less likely. He was given orientation by PHASE on being a Social Mobiliser and as has he had worked on previous projects with PHASE in the area before Start Strong, so he was also confident in areas as diverse as the benefits of bee-keeping, growing kiwis and microfinance as well as the Start Strong benefits of increasing access to maternal healthcare and diversifying agricultural activities to increase nutrition and diet.

“I am proud and happy working for PHASE, working together for the genuine need of the people in remote areas.”

 

 

 


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