The Internship That Turned The Tables For Me...........
I remember the day when a mail popped up in my Inbox confirming my internship with the Mountain Trust in Pokhara, Nepal. That day will always remain a defining point of my vocational life. This is one of my most special ventures as it was officially my first step into the real professional life. Additionally, it was also something that eventually made me realize my responsibilities as a grown up contributing member of the society. Until now, I was stocking myself with the theoretical knowledge on public health but now was the first time when I put these theoretical skills into practice. The fact that the internship was sponsored by the University of Essex was truly icing on the cake as I didn’t have to worry about the finances at all.
Undoubtedly, it was exciting. But it also made me a tad nervous. Will I be able to handle it in an alien land? ... However my doubts were cleared as soon as I met the Mountain Trust team in Pokhara. Mr. Kisan Gurung and Mrs. Bandana Adhikari were so helpful and encouraging. They gave me enough time to settle in the city, enjoy the local cuisine and beautiful scenery. It was great to have such a warm support in the new setting.
As far as my work is concerned, it surely was a great learning experience that helped me build my vocational skills and upgrade my resume to another level. I worked as the Lead Project Coordinator for the Kantitole Sanitation Project in Pokhara. As the Coordinator, my role was to conduct seminars with the help of The Mountain Trust team in the remote villages of Pokhara. The seminars focussed on raising awareness regarding village sanitation, personal hygiene and building toilets in every house. The goals of the project were to basically have an Open Defecation Free Village by building toilets in every house of the village and raise overall awareness on good hygiene habits. I made presentations and other visual aids to complement the seminar so as to make the people realize the need for awareness as well as action. Post the successful seminars, monitoring the toilet constructions and report making kept me busy during the rest of my internship.
As I had clear guidelines for my work, it became easier for me to understand my duties as the Project Coordinator. The fields of social development often merge with one another which could prove to be a handful for a beginner but I faced no such problem, thus, turning the entire experience into one smooth ride. I would also like to thank my friend, Kshitij Poudel, who works hard as The Mountain Trust Volunteer, for all his help and support. We are still in touch and I often refer to him as my kid brother from another country. He definitely added the fun element in my Pokhara experience.
The work, more than anything else, was personally an enriching experience. I got the opportunity to interact with the local women, experience their culture and as part of my work, make them believe in the need for sanitation and toilet requirements. It felt great to see convinced faces who further agreed to act as labour for the toilet construction in their houses. I was extremely lucky to see some completed toilets before my tenure ended. It was not only the toilets but the look on their faces, which gave one immense satisfaction and convinced me that I am in the right field and this is what I really want to do.
After the internship, it was easy for me start the new professional venture, and within a month I was offered to work with the ‘Society for Integrated Development and Research Training’, Rajasthan, as a full time coordinator for their projects on child health and women empowerment.
I sincerely thank Ben and The Mountain Trust for this enriching experience. This is one opportunity no student should miss...!!!