Minutes of CFFN 2015 Annual General Meeting and Directer’s Report

Ottawa, June 28, 2015

 Canada Foundation for Nepal (CFFN) held its Tenth Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Sunday, June 28th, 2015 at the Ottawa Citizen Hall Conference Centre. The main aim of the meeting was to review CFFN’s past activities,  elect new candidates for CFFN board for 2015-17, and discuss ideas of how to move forward our agenda for the education and wellbeing of Nepal and Nepalese.

Welcome: Bishwa Regmi, Executive Secretary, welcomed members and guests to the event.

Approval of Agenda: The meeting agenda was approved by CFFN members as presented.

Annual Report: Govinda Dahal, Executive Director, presented the key accomplishments and next steps for CFFN including Community Child Care, Book Project on Sustainable livelihood systems in Nepal and conceptualizing research opportunities for rural livelihood sustainability in Nepal (Please see the report below).

Financial Report and Appointment of Auditor: Ben Wood, Treasurer, presented CFFN financial and auditor report of 2014/15. Mr. Wood informed that CFFN raised more than $2000 for helping Nepal Earthquake victims.

Prajual Karki is appointed as an auditor to perform CFFN audit for the 2015/16 Fiscal Year.

4C Project: Martina Casey, Director of the Community Child Care Centre (4C) initiative presented progress on the 4C activities. Martina informed that 4C project at Humin village, Palpa District is progressing satisfactorily. Also, 212 (from 2012 onwards) Early Childhood Educators have received Montessori Training. Translation of Montessori curriculum materials into Nepali is in progress.

Book Project: Ishara Mahat, Director of Research, spoke of the book project. She informed that the final manuscript of the book project is submitted to IUCN, Nepal for publication. Ishara thanked all those who contributed to the completion of the book.

Reflections on CFFN Activities: Chief Guest His Excellency Kali Prasad Pokhrel Nepal Ambassador to Canada praised CFFN’s work and wished for its fruitful years ahead. Likewise, Sara Chhetry-NRN Canada, Hari Neupane-INLS, and Krishna Hari Gautam-NCAO emphasised the need of CFFN to continue its mission in promoting education and well-being program for Nepal and Nepalese.

Election of Executive Board Members: A two member electoral commission, comprising of Shiva Ghimire and Pradip Sharma, officiated the election. The executive board members were unanimously elected for the two year term (2015 to 2017) with the following outcomes.

Executive Director: Govinda Dahal

Executive Secretary: Bishwa Regmi

Treasurer: Prashanta Dhakal

Member: Sara Chhetry

Member: Yogendra Bhattarai

Member: Ishara Mahat

Member: Martina Casey

Member: Robin Pudasaini

Member: Drona Rasali

Member: Jaya Ram Simkhada

Member: Hari Raj Neupane

CFFN Volunteer of the Year: Dr. Govinda Dahal offered his thanks to all of CFFN volunteers including board members. Moreover, he praised the contribution of Dr. Kalidas Subedi who tirelessly volunteered for the completion of the book project and declared him as the “Person of Excellence – CFFN Volunteer of the Year”.

Vote of Thanks: Prashanta Dhakal thanked everyone who attended the AGM. He appreciated outgoing treasurer Ben Wood for the contribution he made to CFFN.

AGM Closing: Govinda Dahal welcomed re-elected and new executive board members and expressed his concluding remarks.

Annual Report presented by Executive Director, Dr. Govinda Prasad Dahal for AGM 2015

Dear Chief Guest His Excellency Mr. Kali Prasad Pakhrel, representatives of NCAO, NRN-Canada and INLS Ottawa, CFFN colleagues and associates and all well-wishers,

Warm welcome to you all once again!

I am delighted to give you a brief overview of what we have done so far this year.

Before to start, I would like to remind you all that based on our by-laws- we focus our programs only on education and wellbeing.

Life cycle approach

Dear all, we have adopted a life cycle approach while we implement our programs to achieve our goals.

We have used health research to contribute to the health of new-born children when they start life in their mothers’ body. As maternal health has a big impact on the health of new-born children, we contribute to new knowledge to promote better health of pregnant mothers and their new-born babies. Our publications in international journals in this regard provide this evidence (e.g. http://manuscript.sciknow.org/uploads/ijmch/pub/ijmch_1421323544.pdf ).

Once a baby is born and grows to be 3-5 years old, they need pre-school education.  However, in Nepal, we do not have a practice to send these children for pre-school education. Because of this, we have started to implement a community child care initiative in Nepal for the last 8 years, even on a small scale.

Community child care initiative: To fulfill UN’s Millennium Development goals on universal primary education, Nepal commits to graduate 100 % primary education for its primary school age children by 2015.  However, it is almost impossible to achieve its full potential, as older siblings cannot go to school in all remote rural areas of Nepal and remain at home to look after their younger siblings in order to free their parents for agricultural work or to earn for their survival.

When CFFN realised this situation almost 8 years ago, we decided to initiate our contribution starting community child care centres as a pilot program. We thought that if the initiative worked in Nepal, this would encourage the establishment of community child care centers and encourage all parents to send their pre-school aged children (younger siblings) to these facilities. At that time, their older siblings would be free to go to school. If we could implement this practice in all of Nepal, only then, we can achieve our goal. I believe, CFFN’s efforts through early child care education and its training programs for teachers has contributed, to some extent, towards reaching the goal of universal education in Nepal.

To elaborate, for the first time, we started this program from Baglung district as a pilot program. We found that it worked well. Now we have expanded it to other districts and our focus has expanded to train teachers. By now we have trained 213 teachers in Nepal providing scholarship package from our own efforts. Tineke Casey and Michael Casey are the pioneers for this initiative in Nepal and their tireless efforts is gaining momentum to this endeavour is much appreciated.

Open University Initiative: CFFN also aims to support higher education in Nepal. We are helping the Open University Initiative from its inception. Now, The Nepal Government and NRNA (Non-resident Nepalese Association) are working towards its (Open University) establishment in Nepal.

Research initiative, knowledge synthesis and translation: When we emigrate from Nepal and stay outside working in our field of expertise abroad, we, people from Nepali origin, think about how we can help our motherland. We thought translating advanced knowledge to Nepal to promote the sustainable livelihoods of its citizens could be an effective approach.  Therefore, we decided to support Nepal through synthesizing and publishing scientific evidence for policy relevance in order to promote education and well-being of Nepalese people, especially in rural parts of Nepal.

We started this initiative as ‘a book project’ three years ago with collective efforts of colleagues of different disciplines from CFFN and beyond. More than 60 Scientists from Canada, USA, Australia, UK, Switzerland and Nepal have contributed. These colleagues have gained reputations and are experts in their disciplines related to policy and practices from both Nepal and foreign countries. To my knowledge, this is the first diaspora contribution of this kind, which shares knowledge for policy support.

Besides, we have been contributing for research and capacity building. An example that can be taken is a capacity building workshop in Nepal to advance knowledge and skills on evidence based health policy and practices among senior policy makers working in various sectors in Nepal in 2014 (http://equity.cochrane.org/equity-update-volume-8-issue-1-march-31-2014#Nepal ).

We are also supporting to facilitate Critical Care Management of hospital systems in Nepal working in collaboration with The Royal College of Doctors and Physicians of Canada and The General Hospital in Ottawa.

We have been supporting the Nepal Health Research Council for Capacity building on evidence based health policy and practices (in Nepal) and also supporting the establishment of a Cochrane branch in Nepal.

We have been working with the University of Ottawa as a collaborating partner to identify the role of media in diffusing information and its impact on immigrants’ wellbeing in Ottawa. Also, we have contributed to the area of Global Health Competencies (http://www.hindawi.com/journals/rerp/2013/208187/abs/ ).

Although we were not awarded (but found that our position was competitive) we developed a grant proposal to help Nepal in its food security sector. The amount of IDRC proposal we proposed was 3.5 million and our collaborative partners were Agriculture Canada from Canada and Kathmandu University and IUCN Nepal office from Kathmandu.

These are the highlights on what have we done so far.

Now let me highlight briefly about our Next steps:

Upon the completion of our book publication on: Sustainable livelihood systems in Nepal, we plan to publish a booklet in Nepali language summarizing the main points of this book (synopsis) and to implement where appropriate.

To develop specific projects based on our expertise and apply for grant applications.

We will continue our 4C project and will advance it whatever/wherever possible.

As final words, we will work with you all together and look forward to your cooperation to achieve our common goals. I am pleased to THANK you all for your help and moral support. I also want to take a moment to highlight and appreciate the contribution of CFFN colleagues, members and associates. The work you put in is invaluable.

Thank you!

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