Travel letter: WAWCAS Rises to the Sky

Jørgen Fogh Hansen, WAWCAS volunteer

In March, Jørgen Fogh Hansen and Christine Thorsen went on a journey to Nepal. Their goal was to establish a new system for collecting data. It was a journey of meetings, a lot of input and clarification. WAWCAS will be getting a new database system which will underpin the positive progress we are experiencing right now.

Since the start of WAWCAS, a lot of important data has been collected about the participating women and their conditions before, during, and after the program. This data has been saved in various Excel files and on paper. We already knew back then that this was not the optimal solution, however it was one that could be managed without any investment other than time.

Since then, the team behind WAWCAS has been working on making a specification of criteria for a dedicated database system which can manage the task of data collection and analytical work. The proposition from the Nepalese company MiDas Technology was interesting, but how can we be sure that they understand the task and that we can manage the project properly? Nina Schriver and Christine Thorsen suggested that I should come to Nepal with them to participate in a workshop with the company. This was decided and off we went. And what an experience.

After some challenges in getting to Nepal on Friday, March 6th (a blocked runway in Kathmandu), Christine and I finally arrived Sunday morning. On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday we had meetings with MiDas at their office. This was a very positive experience. With a constructive approach to the process MiDas was made aware of our wishes and we were made aware of what MiDas is capable of and willing to do.

By Wednesday afternoon most of the outstanding items had been clarified and both parties were ready to enter into a final contract for developing and implementing a functional WAWCAS Data System. A timeline has been drawn up and the aim is for the new system to be ready by the end of the year.

It has been a very productive and fruitful week with a collectively positive and engaged atmosphere. The positive result was only made possible by each participant utilizing their individual areas of competence and expertise. The expertise of Sangeeta, Sirish, Amit and Nina was essential in ensuring that the processes, daily work, reporting and analyses of the program were made clear in the specification of criteria. Christine and I have experience with structure, IT, data and system development and were able to ‘translate’ the wishes of the users to a structured IT language so that MiDas could understand their wishes.

To round off the week, on Thursday, together with Christine and Sangeeta, I had the opportunity to visit 12 of the WAWCAS women in the Kathmandu area. It was a very moving experience which confirmed my belief in the important and highly successful work that WAWCAS does. To meet these women and see how they have improved their lives warms my heart and gave me a lump in my throat. They are radiant with joy over the opportunity they and their families have been given. It is an opportunity which they have taken and which they are fully utilizing.

Among the women we met Rathamaia, who runs a small successful grocery shop. Her husband helps in the shop, she has bought some land so that later on they can build their own house and shop, and their sons have had and are getting good schooling. The eldest son has already started his own motorcycle repair shop – without the financial help of his mother. During my visit I realized that she has achieved all of this without being able to read or write much at all.

Nina asked me why I help. There are several reasons for this. It is important for me that the program gives the participants help to help themselves. In my opinion this is the only way to help (apart from in the event of disasters). At the same time it is a program which really shows results even with impressively few means. There are many ways to help and I like the fact that people can support WAWCAS by offering their individual skills and qualifications.

I can only recommend supporting WAWCAS. Whether it is financial support, offering advice within your own area of competence or by ‘just’ providing your time is not important. What is important is that WAWCAS can continue and expand its good work. There are plenty of people who need to be supported in their individual development.


Jørgen Fogh Hansen (second row, left), Sangeeta Shresta, Christine Thorsen, Nina Schriver og Sirish Shresta from WAWCAS International meeting with nepaleese company MiDas Technology.