A day’s work in Nepal

In his blog, Mainline’s Nick Veldwijk talks about his day during a recent trip he made to Nepal. The blog shows how diverse Mainlines’ work towards improving the health and lives of People Who Use Drugs is.

In the heart of bustling Kathmandu, I hail a taxi. “Namaste dhai. Patan hospital?! Kati? How much?”. I just finished a coffee meeting with a female drug user network at 8 am. 

9:30 am: Ajit – Youth Visions outreach coordinator – takes us to a marketplace where we meet clients who receive new needles, syringes and alcohol swabs. An outreach worker shows their clients a piece of paper and explains to them that:

“safe injecting will prevent a lot of issues, such as abscesses and infectious diseases.”
One goal that Mainline has is to strengthen the implementation of harm reduction services at local organisations. We provide support to develop outreach strategies. By joining the outreach workers, we observe and train our partners to improve harm reduction services. It is really amazing to join the outreach teams and be able to compare their work to that in other countries.

1 pm: The outreach worker gives me a ride back to Youth Vision’s office on his motorcycle. I have one hour with the Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) officer to take a closer look at their online database system where all the data about their outreach work is stored. I see an interesting graph on how many clients they have reached in the last 6 months.

“But how can we track all these clients in their access to HIV testing and treatment and do we ensure referrals to public health services?”

Another goal Mainline has is to strengthen capacity together with local partners; this will improve programme planning, implementation and monitoring and evaluation (M&E). A sound M&E system ensures that programmes can constantly be improved. In addition, it provides for accountability among donors and a robust basis for raising funds and influencing policy.

2 pm: I have a quick meeting with a researcher. Together, we want to set up new research to assess human rights violations and the level of access to health services for drug users in Nepal. We discuss the methodology of the research, the total number of interviews and focus group discussion to be held and set a date for pre-testing some of the questionnaires. This is going to be both important and interesting!
By studying stigmatisation and discrimination, we can advocate for evidence-based harm reduction services that leads to improving the health of People Who Use Drugs. 

3 pm: I am back at the Youth Vision office for a meeting with the management team. Subject: fundraising. As funds are decreasing, NGOs need to look for alternative income sources. Mainline has asked an expert on fundraising to support Youth Vision in their fundraising strategy. This can range from increasing income via major donors to alternative income streams such as through social entrepreneurship. With the executive director and fund-raiser an annual action plan has been developed to generate resources for the financial sustainability of the organisation.

From a sustainability perspective, Mainline finds it important to support NGOs to diversify funding streams.

7 pm: Dinner. The funding expert and I have a dinner meeting with a big international NGO. We meet with the international programme manager and the fund-raiser from the head office in Great-Britain. They have a local office in Nepal and want to focus more on health-related programmes. We share our ambition to focus more on employment opportunities – which is their expertise – so there might be an opportunity to work together.
Networking is an important part of Mainlines’ work. By cultivating relationships with existing and new stakeholders – this could be donors, other NGOs, but also UN bodies and local network organisations – Mainline spreads the word about harm reduction.

10 pm: I arrive back at the office and need to do my final preparations for tomorrow. At 11 pm, I find my bed. Done for today! As you can see, Mainlines’ work differs per day, from working directly with outreach workers and providing clean needles and syringes to strategic discussions about the diversification of income streams. Just another (hard?) day’s work!

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