Life in the PHASE Worldwide office in Bristol revolves around answering emails from supporters, logging donations, preparing for events, writing grant applications and reports, etc – you get caught up in the day to day and sometimes the reasons we are actually there can feel a long way away. It’s now two weeks since my last day with PHASE and I have had some time to reflect. When I think about my last seven years two things really stand out – visiting the remote areas PHASE works in, and the people.
I joined the PHASE team in 2011, working in Nepal for four months. Feburuary 2011 saw my first visits to the project areas. I went to Hagam in Sindhulpalchok District…
PHASE was running a number of alternative schools there at the time and I was struck by all those children who wouldn’t have had an education had it not been for PHASE providing this support.
I returned to Hagam in 2016 following the earthquake, the majority of the beautiful houses seen below were gone.
In March 2011, I had the privilege of visiting PHASE projects in Gorkha. At that time PHASE areas worked right up in Samaguan at 3000 meters. In nine long days of trekking our group could only make it has far as Lho village. That gave me my first glimpse into just how remote the areas PHASE works in are, I also was able to spend more time with the PHASE Nepal team seeing how dedicated they are to their work.
My next trip wasn’t until May 2014 when I had the chance to go to Humla for three weeks, this gave ‘remote’ a whole new meaning and meant I had to face my fear of flying to land on the dirt airstrip on the side of a mountain in Gamgadi.
We walked 134 miles and were only able to visit 2 of the 4 projects in the far west. Many things stood out for me on this trip. One thing was (despite being in very different setting) how much the PHASE supported health posts are like a doctors surgery at home… patients waiting their turn, seeing the nurse, collecting medicine, and how difficult this service we all take for granted would be to access if the PHASE team wasn’t around. Also, how interested the communities are in what PHASE are doing, this was a street drama with health messages that took place while we were there…
My next trip to Nepal was booked for April 2015 but a few days before I was due to fly the earthquake hit and my time was better spent in the UK office supporting fundraising. I next went to Nepal in Dec 2015 and despite the number of photos and personal stories I had heard about the damage, nothing could prepare me for seeing the destruction myself.
This is what used to be the PHASE health post in Fulpingkot, Sindhulpalchok.
In May 2016 I returned to Hagam in Sindhulpalchok.
It was devastating to see the damage in the village I had visited several years previously, debris was still everywhere and people were still living in huts (many of whom still are). The PHASE Nepal team had expanded significantly and were engaged in rebuild projects.
During that visit it was clear the impact PHASE Nepal was starting to make at a national level. I attended the PHASE Nepal conference which was about the response to the earthquake which was attended by senior government officials.
In November 2016 I went back to Gorkha to Kashigaun, where PHASE had started a project funded by Big Lottery. I noticed on this trip was the way the staff from different trained in different areas (health, education and livelihoods) were working together to support the integrated project. I saw female farmers receiving training, the work that PHASE staff were doing with the teachers in the local school and how the health staff were working in the health post.
Also on that trip I had the chance to go see a cervical cancer screening camp in Kathmandu with some UK gynaecologists. PHASE has been training nurses in Nepal to screen for a number of years and camp ran smoothly with the Nepalese team providing all the expertise.
On my last trip to Nepal in April 2017 I didn’t leave Kathmandu as we were so busy writing DFID proposals (one of which was successful). Still the glimpse of the high peaks from Jiban’s office and working with the PHASE Nepal team reminded me why I those the day to day back in Bristol is so important.
In terms of people there are SO MANY to mention it would be impossible to do it here (and I am sorry I have not been able to write to each of you individually), you know who you are. PHASE Nepal, PHASE Austria and PHASE Worldwide would not be the organisations they are without the incredible commitment of staff, trustees, founders, volunteers, supporters, patrons, ambassadors – you all are an absolute inspiration to me. I cannot put in to words your kindness, compassion and how much you selflessly give to others. My only hope is that I can carry your friendship, inspiration and all that I have learnt from you into the next seven years and beyond. Thank you so so much for giving me the opportunity to be part of such an amazing force for good.
If you would like to stay in touch you can reach me on firstname.lastname@example.org
Sarah Galvin, January 2019
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