Posted by Ian Ballantine on Nov 04, 2020
Here we were at 7:30 pm sitting very comfortably at home looking at each other through the magic of Zoom and amongst us were two visitors Richard Buhrer and Alex Zahnd, our two guest speakers meeting with us in Switzerland. It would have been 5:30 am and as they said while were in the dark in the evening, it was still dark in the morning. As was mentioned the magic of Zoom! Kevin D hosted the meeting and while welcomed our special guests, he also welcomed President Ian Kirkwood and   PP wife, Faye, Dora, Sophie and PP Merv from the Rotary Club of Caulfield. President Geoff also welcomed us all and thanked Richard and Alex for their time. He announced how pleased he was for the lifting of restrictions so we can be starting the market on Sunday. He reminded us that plans for familiarization of the market rules will start on Saturday. He reminded us that will be doing somethings that we have not done before but we need to make sure we are following COVID rules, and more than likely we are better to err on the side of caution.
Kevin introduced Richard Buhrer and Alex Zahnd, both men representing RIDS-NEPAL. Rural Integrated Development Service-Nepal is a Social Non Government Organization (NGO). It was registered in the calendar year 2005(2062) with the Government in Lalitpur, in the Lalitpur District Office and the Social Welfare Council in Nepal. It is a NON-Profit body and the majority of its long –term Holistic Community Development (HCD) projects and field based research projects are financed by the donations from individuals, charities, communities and INGOs. This where we as the Rotary Club of Bentleigh Moorabbin Central fir into the larger picture of RIDS. The Rotary Club of Caulfield is also part of the donating group which allows RIDS to do their amazing work. Richard spent a lot of time to gain a global grant while Alex has been there since 1983 doing organizing the on-site work in Nepal. Can we imagine what it would be like to live in a barren place such as Pere Village which is in the remote North-East of the Jumla District, Nepal’s least developed District of 75. Jumla District is in the Karnali province of Nepal and its highest elevation is 4,679 meres. It is extremely cold so cold that until RIDS came, people used open fires to cook, could not grow vegetables or wash between the months of September to April! There was widespread deforestation due to high firewood demand due to inefficient cooking and heating methods and back breaking working hours for the women. The impact of RIDS is Pit Latrines, Smokeless Metal Stoves, Drinking Water Systems, Greenhouses, Solar Driers, and Slow Sand Water filtering systems.  Alex showed us slides of the building of Latrines. The houses are very close but the people have to give land to build the toilets close by. The Jumli people work together with the Pere people in building the pits. Where there is not enough room, individual toilets the community work together to build a communal one. Pit latrines last for 7 years and each toilet can be flushed and the smell is evaporated through a ventilation pipe that also keeps out flies. Solar systems have been built so that a High Altitude Green House has been built and the village is able to grow crops and produce. The excess can be dried for later use or sold.  The slides showed the examples of the use of a newly installed large solar system which offers hot water for bathing and washing.  We were able to see the photos of the smokeless metal stoves and the manufacturing of them. RIDS offers education in nutrition for mal-nourished children and their mothers and non-formal education for women and out-of-school girls. By Kevin asking the question, it has taken many days and many people to be able to get the supplies to Pere Village. The development has taken 10 years and a   rough road has been built so a tractor can go up the mountain. If the river is not too high, the tractor can go through. Tons of material such as the 45kg stove have been carried there but of course having a road makes everything much easier. Alex told us that local participation is not paid.  The stove uses firewood but 60% less than before and is sustainable. We were also informed that men from the lowest caste have been taught and have been able then to teach other villagers to build. This has enabled them to earn and gain dignity which was not there before. So the question that would come to every one’s mind, Why Live There? The answer: “This is my land, this where I was born. This is home!” This whole project is tremendous. One village at a time and the very poorest of poor could have access to water, sola power, safe sanitation, fresh food and education. The Villagers of the Pere Holistic Community Development with the improvements to their living conditions will enjoy for many Generations to come. Both Richard and Alex have passed a huge “THANK YOU” from the Pere Village to Rotary Club of Bentleigh Moorabbin Central and Rotary Club of Caulfield for the help we have contributed towards this fantastic project. We also in turn thank Richard Buhrer and Alex Zahnd for sharing their story with us. As was said earlier, the amazing time and distance link that Zoom offers. Moving on…Ron advised us that that we need to temperature check us and get customers to fill in questionnaires all being part of keeping the market COVID safe. He also shared that the market is fully booked which is a very good sign. NO MASK, NO ENTER!  The AGM is on November 25th and as Helen says we need the members to own the club so we should ALL attend.  Helen also advised us that the we should diarize the 13th December for our Christmas gathering. Venue to be advised. She also advised us this would be the last evening meeting for the year.In closing the meeting Pres. Geoff once again thanked Richard who now had his beautiful grandchild on his lap and Alex for telling us that RIDS is doing and how much we enjoyed having them at our meeting that seemed to go so quickly. He wished those on market duty an enjoyable morning and we should remember ROTARY OPENS OPPORTUNITIES
Zilla (Bulletin Reporter)
Please visit our REIDS-Nepal YouTube channel at:
Please also visit our RIDS-Nepal website at: to see a bit more of the various holistic community development cocnepts such as the "Family of 4" and the "Family of 4 PLUS".