Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer Daniel Flaherty shares thoughts from his volunteer assignment in Nepal earlier this year:
I had a wonderful volunteer experience in Nepal. This was my first time to Asia, and I was amazed with the amount of human activity at every turn in Kathmandu. Every conceivable form of transportation seems to be used in Nepal, from motor bikes, rickshaws, water buffalo & cart, horse & cart, bicycles, tractors and automobiles. I am glad I didn’t have to drive here with no traffic lights and driving on the left hand side of the road. I was so surprised how the cows would just lay in the middle of the road without a concern in the world.
My assignment was to improve goat productivity in Nepal through the use of the FAMACHA card. The FAMACHA card is a technique used to detect the level of internal parasite infestation in sheep and goats by evaluating the lower eyelid for signs of anemia. The learning went both ways, as I learned about goat production in Nepal, and participants learned about improved goat production techniques. We held the trainings with the Agriculture and Food Security Project (AFSP), Nepal Junior Technicians, equivalent to our county extension agents in America, in classroom settings and in the field on farms. I found the in-field experience was very beneficial to the participants. They eagerly implemented what was taught in the classroom. The practical application of the theory learned in the classroom was reinforced in the field through demonstration of goat best management practices.
I especially enjoyed our visits to the Village Development Committees (VDCs). These are groups of farmers that work cooperatively together to improve farming productivity in their region. The farmers treated me as an honored guest at each of these farming communities. I was welcomed into their community where we were always fed a delicious meal after our in field training. They were so warm and hospitable. I even had the honor of having the Tika red mark placed on my forehead, a sign of honor and blessing. I would like to thank each of the farmers from the VDCs who provided their goats for the junior technicians to practice with their FAMACHA cards and weighing tapes.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my host Shiva Prakash Acharya from the AFSP, Nepal and Krishna Prasad Rijal from FAO. They did a yeoman’s job in organizing the trainings and farm visits to the VDCs. Their organization made the trainings a huge success.
Lastly, without the assistance of the Nepal Winrock local staff, this rewarding and wonderful experience would not have been possible. They made me feel most welcome and did everything you could imagine to help me adjust to the Nepal culture & environment.
–Daniel J. Flaherty