Monday, 29th of June, 2015, Kathmandu
"Being able to solve some of the problems of people we meet is the greatest award for us", remarked Ashika Khadka, a Mobile Citizen Helpdesks (MCHD) volunteer from Lalitpur. Our volunteers serve as intermediaries between front-line workers and local governments, connecting people with appropriate service providers, but also explaining the bureaucratic procedures and assisting citizens who need further help with their paperwork. MCHDs not only connect citizens with essential services, but also help clarify confusions about the government role in the post-earthquake efforts. Many people have very little information on the services they are entitled to, and tend to believe rumours about the inefficiency of the government. Our volunteers have been instrumental in clarifying misunderstandings about the role of government and the international community in response to the earthquake.
On June 24, two representatives of MCHD funding partner, Humanity United (HU), visited us to get a first-hand account of our work and progress to date. In the first half of the day, MCHD volunteers and coordinators discussed their work, major successes and challenges. In the afternoon, our visitors went on a field trip to Bhaktapur to accompany our local volunteers.
The discussion opened with a presentation by Madhusudan Guragain, district coordinator from Kavrepalanchok, who gave an overview of MCHD daily work, challenges and achievements. After a general introduction, HU representatives were keen to hear more about our volunteers’ experiences. "Do you think your work benefits local communities?" asked Sam Lee from Humanity United. Paras Ranjit, a volunteer from Lalitpur explained that he realized the importance of his work on a daily basis. Many citizens approach MCHD volunteers to help them understand how to access aid or obtain government entitlements.
Going to the field, our guests were impressed by the welcoming attitude of citizens and their recognition of our volunteers’ work. First, we went to a VDC office where local officials updated our team on the progress in the disbursements of funds for the earthquake-affected households. Afterwards, Bhaktapur volunteers Suyasha Koirala and Prakash Bhatt conducted their daily round of community visits. "These young people provide us with information we need and link us with resources and services we are entitled to. They are genuinely interested in our lives, while no one else comes to us to hear our perspective", we heard from a group of senior citizens who were happy to see our volunteers again in their community.
As the day came to an end, our visitors and MCHD coordinators drove back to Kathmandu, reassured about the importance of our project.