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October 30, 2014

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October 30, 2014

This is an excellent small organization that helps marginalized communities across Nepal develop their own capacity in the domains of children's education, women's empowerment and agriculture. They have worked effectively in one of the village areas where I have worked for over 15 years as an anthropologist - succeeding in improving living conditions in a way on other organization has. I strongly recommend ETC's small-scale, sustainable model. It works!
October 22, 2014
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October 22, 2014
1 person found this review helpful


A Small Organization
from which
Governments and International Aid Agencies Could Learn

“Leader Urges People to Revolt”, “Local Government
Consolidation Recommended”, “Homeless Tell Their Stories.” These were fleeting stories recently - there one minute, forgotten the next. They had to do with dysfunctional government and social arrangements, a source of discontent in many places around the world. Let’s take Nepal where Ithaca based ETC (Educate the Children) works. Long standing and unfortunate social conditions there festered into a bloody civil war which is finally coming to an end. As will be the case one day in Iraq and Afghanistan, peace in Nepal will open the door, ever so slightly, for humanitarian relief and for the rebuilding of individual confidence, family cohesiveness, community cooperation, government services, national infrastructure, businesses and employment. Peace will not automatically eliminate lingering grievances and without the skillful repair of fundamental conditions, things will eventually come apart again or at least not work very well. The end of war in Nepal leaves social marginalization, economic disparity, gender discrimination, illiteracy, disease, landlessness, malnourishment, orphan-hood and homelessness intact. Somehow people’s fear and distrust, caused by both sides when kidnapping, property destruction, killing, torture and detention were practiced, will need to be addressed if neighbors will ever be able to face each other and communities work together again.

Several governments and international agencies will no doubt move to help the people of Nepal. Multi year, sector wide projects, farmed out to international companies and costing millions, will be designed. Complicated programs costing even more and designed to work through broken government departments, will be put into place. Donor motives will be honorable and the potential for considerable good will obtain. But much of what is done in this way will eventually run off. Donors could learn from a small Ithaca based NGO called ETC which has been working in Nepal for years. Large donors will understandably have objectives like 4000 classrooms repaired, 1500 wells opened, 500 clinics stocked, 4000 teachers trained, 300 miles of freight path restored, and so on - all worthy and needed. The thing of it is, displaced and disenfranchised people, together with alienated communities, will need to be brought together as part of the repair and redevelopment of Nepal. Wind will have to be breathed into the body. Otherwise accomplishments will be shallow, partial and temporary. This by the way would be necessary to any rooted development which has a chance of being sustained, even where there had been no war.

ETC/Ithaca is an organization that works hand and hand with local people as they are ready, depending on them to decide what needs to be done and relying on them to bring about needed change. While it has always worked in this fashion, this is especially critical at a time when an abundance of cynicism, fear and fatalism has accumulated and makes any, lay it on approach, suspect. ETC personnel work shoulder to shoulder with individuals, project groups and communities, trusting and respecting their insights and integrity. Development objectives are based on locally identified needs and desires. ETC has learned that the ownership which comes from participation is necessary to the sustainability of any accomplishment. Efforts are not limited to any sector but rather take on whatever is needed as a group or community progresses. Development is understood as a continuous problem solving process. Interventions are not seen as stand alone but as building blocks. Attention is given to the needs of whole families and communities, knowing that progress and motivation are interrelated. There is willingness to engage in every element of an endeavor, e.g. cooperative planning and decision making, group or community organization, advocacy with government offices, fund raising, training, child care, family nutrition and so on as needed. Each local success is seen as putting understandings and skills into place which make higher order accomplishments possible. The satisfaction of aspirations induces further ambitions. Surely the work of large donor organizations is important and productive in places like Nepal. However, the thoughtful approach used by ETC Ithaca could increase impact considerably while providing opportunity for the development of relationships which are so important in times like these.

Donovan Russell
3627 Rockefeller Road
Moravia, NY 13118
Tel 315-784-5706

The ETC website for anyone interested, is www.etc-nepal.org
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