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Supporting AVP Facilitators in Nepal

                by John Michaelis

Kishor, John and Subhash, the facilitation team

I was privileged to travel to Kathmandu in 2008 to meet and facilitate several AVP workshops with Subhash Kattel including his facilitator training. Since then he has organized and facilitated about fifty workshops in Nepal, most of them AVP Basics. Earlier this year he was asked by the United Nations (UN HCR) to organize a series of workshops in two refugee camps in Eastern Nepal where violence has been on the rise in recent years.

 

The kingdom of Bhutan, a small country bounded by West Bengal, Sikkim and Tibet and China, has interested me since I learned they base their economy on the GHI (Gross Happiness Index) rather than GDP (Gross Domestic Product). However, my opinion of Bhutan has changed since I learned that seventeen years ago they forced out more than 100 thousand of their population, mostly ethnic Nepalese, more than fifty thousand of whom are still housed in refugee camps near Damak, in South East Nepal.

(Map below courtesy of Human Rights Watch)

As often is the case in such situations, substance abuse in the camps – mainly alcohol consumption by men – has risen to the point where violence against women and children has become a serious problem.

I received a plea from Subhash a month or so ago to drop everything and come to assist in training a facilitation team to work in the camps. The training is now complete. Fourteen new facilitators are keen to practice newly acquired skills. I plan to remain in Kathmandu for a few more days to meet with camp organizers to discuss future plans.

I followed much of the AVP process I learned from Nadine in Indonesia. In the Advanced and T4F (training for facilitators) AVP workshops the participants set ground rules they would follow in their daily lives, not just while they were in the workshop. They chose as a goal, to live AVP transforming power in their lives. They felt that transforming power as described in the AVP mandala was insufficient for their purpose and after thoughtful discussion they defined transforming power as loving yourself, loving other people as you would like to be loved, and practicing integrity in all aspects of life.

New (and some not so new) facilitators

The consensus process in the advanced workshop followed the principles of discernment. We practiced times of silence, listening to each other speak from the silence, recognizing the wisdom of each participant and seeking the best solution for the situation regardless of personal interest. We dealt with complex decisions including whether to not to cancel a basic workshop that was scheduled to follow the T4F.

An amazing group of fourteen facilitators were trained, and four of them including Subhash are now in one of the refugee camps in Damak facilitating the first workshop there. They hope to complete at least twenty workshops by year end.