Swarnima Shrestha


Recommended reading: http://www.practicalaction.org

Posts by Swarnima

  • A camp for Storytellers

    September 26th, 2014

    What comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘story’?
    It reminds me of the tales that grandmother used to tell me when I was a child.

    These were the starting conversation of the three day storycamp held at Narayanghat, Chitwan (Nepal). The camp was a different from other story writing training as it used advanced tools and techniques of storytelling and appreciative inquiry (AI). It intended to make the participants skilled on identifying the stories, content generation and presentation. It was based on constructivism paradigm where participants learned by doing. The camp intended to make the participants knowledgeable about different forms and methods of storytelling in the form of texts, photographs and videos.

    Participants making presentation

    Participants making presentation

    Organised by Practical Action, there were altogether 10 participants in the camp, of which five were from Practical Action Chitwan cluster office and five others were from partner organisations. The lead coach of the camp was Mr Saurav Dhakal from the Storycycle, with an expertise on storytelling and presentation. His focus area is promoting storytelling approach to cater positive change on people’s life by using new media tools and technology. Apart from him, we were a team of three in-house trainers from Practical Action communications team to run the camp – including me, Sanjib Chaudhary and Prabin Gurung.

    Day one introduced the participants about the basic components of storytelling, photography and videography. Apart from that they also pondered upon their true passion and strengths, and made plans about their far away future. One of the exercises on the day was given as homework to the participants where they had to assume that they were celebrating their 65th birthday.

    The second day commenced with the participants celebrating their assumed 65th birthday. They shared interesting stories of what they believed or hoped they would have achieved by then. It was fascinating to hear their about ambition and expectations from life. Day two was more of a practical day where the participants got the chance to use the learnings from the first day. They were divided in three different groups and went to the different parts of Narayanghat to collect a variety of stories.

    In the day three, the participants presented the stories that they collected the previous day. The stories were presented using texts, photographs and videos. It was exciting to see that they had used the tools and techniques, which were discussed in the previous days. It was interesting to witness the visible change in the quality of the products that they presented.

    The training summed up by identifying different platforms through which the stories collected and drafted can be shared to a large mass of people or to the intended target audiences. The participants can now work on a shared Google doc, listing their story ideas. The communications team will track the stories in progress and provide the support required.

    One of the participants wrote as a feedback to the training, “I liked the way the training has been managed. The method of separating us in different groups and making us involved in the real practical work was very effective learning approach. I loved that fact that we were given the hands-on lessons with focus on practical approach rather than just talking about theory. The camp has made us better storytellers.”

    I hope that we will get to hear many stories from these storytellers in the near future.

    A group picture of the camp

    A group picture of the camp

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  • How a view tower is helping to save lives?

    September 18th, 2014
    The view of Fewa Lake.

    The view of Fewa Lake.

    Pokhara is one of the most popular tourist destinations of Nepal and my favourite place of all times. It is a kind of place that makes you forget all your troubles and mesmerizes you with its unparalleled natural beauty. And no visit to Pokhara is complete without a boating trip on the amazing Fewa Lake. Most of the people visiting Pokhara definitely take the wooden boat and enjoy the beauty of this fresh water lake – the second largest in Nepal. Though not highly risky activity in itself, quite a number of people have lost their lives by drowning while boating in Fewa – an occurrence which could have been easily avoided.

    The weather in Pokhara is unpredictable and changes drastically during afternoon. Powerful wind starts blowing, making the boats unstable and filling it up with water. People who have gone to the farther corners of the lake find it hard to come back to the shore in time; at times causing them their lives. The lake stretching into the corners of the hills makes it hard for the rescue team to reach the needful on time.

    Sub-inspector Padam Pandey at the view tower.

    Sub-inspector Padam Pandey at the view tower.

    But according to sub-inspector Padam Pandey, things have changed for better now. “Going for rescue has been much easier after the establishment of the danger alert system and the construction of the view tower. We blow the danger siren as soon as we feel like the weather patterns are getting dangerous. The boats rush back to the shore when they hear the siren,” he says. Sub-inspector Pandey is a part of the rescue team under the Armed Police Force’s disaster risk reduction unit, currently posted at Pokhara.

    The view tower constructed on the shore of the Fewa Lake is a part of the Building Disaster Resilient Communities in Pokhara Sub-Metropolitan (BDRC) project. It is a DFID Nepal funded consortium project of Practical Action and Action Aid with local partners Siddhartha Club and Community Support Group. The project has been conducting various activities to build the capacity of communities to respond and prepare for disasters – the view tower is just a small part of it all.

    Sub-inspector Pandey seemed very enthusiastic to be able to work from the view tower.

    “We can have a wide range of view from the tower. We also use binoculars to spot appropriately. As soon as we see that someone is in danger, we rush out for rescue. In the past, it was difficult to locate where exactly the people were. Sometimes, we used to reach the place a bit too late. Now, it has become easier to save lives.”

    He further adds, “I never thought that a tower could make so much difference! It has made our work so much easier and effective.”

    I will definitely feel safer while boating around the Fewa Lake next time I visit Pokhara, all thanks to BDRC and brave life savers such as sub-inspector Pandey.


    The view tower constructed with support from BDRC

    The view tower constructed with support from BDRC project


    (Find a news about the life saving rescue work in this link – http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id=73116)

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