Gaden Relief Projects

Helping Tibetans preserve their unique culture.


Joint Zadoh-ACORN Meeting Guelph

University of Guelph's School of Environmental Design and Rural Development

May 21, 2003


Nonita Yap PhD
School of Environmental Design and Rural Development, University of Guelph (

Farokh Afshar PhD
School of Environmental Design and Rural Development, University of Guelph (

Zasep Rinpoche
Zadoh Project Leader, Gaden Relief Projects (

Robbie Chase MD
Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba; Zadoh Project Leader, Gaden Relief Projects; Project Director, ACORN "Afghan Children Organizing to Rehabilitate Nature" (

Rob Stevens
"Peace Through Health" Coordinator, Centre for Peace Studies, McMaster University; Project Manager and Coordinator, ACORN; Zadoh Committee Member, Gaden Relief Projects (

Candace Cole MD
Expedition Member, Zadoh Project Expedition Member, ROKPA International Family physician, Central Vancouver Island Health Region (

Daud Saba PhD
Project Officer (Technical & Cultural Liaison), ACORN Project Environmental specialist. Born in Herat. MS in Economic Geology and Earth Sciences, Kabul Polytechnic Institute, PhD, University of Bombay; Founder Hindu Kush Environmental Watch; (,

Sharon Gretzinger
Zadoh Committee Member, Gaden Relief Projects

Conrad Richter
Coordinator, Gaden Relief Projects.

Part I: ACORN ("Afghan Children Organizing to Rehabilitate Nature")

[Note: the ACORN project is not part of Gaden Relief Projects; several members of the Zadoh committee are members of ACORN — C.R.]

Robbie: Initiative new curriculum working with minister of education with proposal peace building fund to set up 12 regions to provide curriculum peace, conflict resolution and an attempt to move into the community. Warchild Canada, Daud, from Harat, mission to make local contacts for a children's garden project psychosocial and cultural aspects of butterfly garden, but including horticulture, waste disposal, demonstration project, take messages into their homes, tree nurseries, restoration of local environment.

NGO partner required for CIDA (none there) but piggy back on McMaster University proposal to CIDA already submitted.

Copy of scenario given out by Robbie.

Canadian gov't 250 million dollars promised to Afghanistan and main wish is so interim government so funding can be administered through them. Three themes of security including a local security, livelihood, natural resource management. These three have been chosen by Canada.

NGO project facility, Afgan desk (Peggy Florida Senior Program advisor), was to meet with Afgan doctor Seddiq Weera, Must use 1/2 of that money. (administrative burden is high) so need capacity building and technical experience in the field. See if we can devise a consortium of universities and others that can help the Kabul Government work toward nation building. Needs and curriculum. Meet after one year to debrief progress.

Pitch for 5 million dollars that would have Canadian activities. Propose a working conference in Ottawa in fall with the various working arms to look at the feasibility of that.

Nonita: Clear line whose is responsible [is important]. CIDA finds the more people involved the more difficult, the harder to make decisions. Too many people are involved in making decisions. Either McMaster University or Warchild might be the best organizational home. NGO at one University might coordinate and fit other things underneath it.

Daud: (briefing) Most of the NGO's involved level of help doesn't move from level of giving something so they don't die. Help offered is not what the people expect to change the lifestyle, many environmental issues, sanitation issue, refugee camps drought the situation is very bad. Latrines onto city street and kids are playing there. Water based solutions won't work. Composting units. Component of garden sample unity: show product is usable. Garbage dumped on streets. 95% is organic and compostable and reusable. Ancient cultural link has been used long ago. Help by teaching the children they can teach their parents. Reforestation, water issues are possible in the future but would require other partners and are too big.

Question: Sanitation-pit latrines -- no solution but they throw under the ground and pollutes the underground water. Compost units can be built into the house, redistributed around the farms. Organic waste could be composted in the household and back into the household. Wish to introduce idea into the society. Model demonstration project in the garden. Multifaceted. Government should be involved, UN etc.

UN rehab project, for UN Centre for Human Settlements

UN extended a pipe-unknown benefit. They are talking about a huge project. There is no solution with water as it is a dry country. Lambert Otten, Chair of school of Engineering -- does a lot of volunteer work. __(expert on composting) Nonita working with him on Southern Africa. He finds the simplest local use and solutions.)

The house of compost used to be done years ago -- had the technology long long ago but -- nothing needs to be imported. People already build latrines, could change CCODP-Catholic Care Organization for the Development of Peace. World Vision? There are 1300 NGOs registered in Afganistan. Chaos, overlap,

Unsolicited proposal route. Someone in CIDA who will run with it, supports it can be approved in two to three months. Someone inside who believes in what you are doing. As soon as it hits 5 million it has to have a signature by the minister. Contacts: don't have to be an NGO-talk to someone who has to agree with your idea, own it. CIDA rewrite the proposal by woman who knows-Nonita-First actors on Canadian side agreement in principal. Simplify your life, not too many involved, institutionally, must reside in MacMaster for example, even though other institutions involved.

Pushtun and Dari languages -- peace building and psychosocial issues -- stories of children rebuilding, conflict resolution techniques, helping Afgan children environmental curriculum, MSF Canada has devised a program model as a mental health initiative. Bring elements together in children's garden, linking to school and bring in local community.

Question: Garden project could be located within the 12 schools proposed by McMaster, composting would be a demonstration project, helping to sustain the school. Adopted by a nucleus of people the dental authorities might decide to upscale and use elsewhere or more widely, convince the gov't to take a stake and solve it's own problems.

Conrad (question to Nonita and Farokh): What happens to these proposals you have written? Are they written up and published, use or applications in the future?

Nonita: Guelph is an applied school -- not conventional. Professional, like a school of engineering. A practical impact. Environmental design. Institutional governance and organizational issues. Interested in a research component. Credible to a project that can be scaled up to city wide. Requires research. How do you have a community management process through which this can be applied. T informs how it can be practically applied. Any paper should talk about he practical aspect of research component and application: practical field action fielding learning exercises. Action learning, action research. Credible research supporting them.

Nonita: We all do things differently in this school. She works consultant CIDA and volunteer OXFAM, monitor for a project in Bangladesh. Research is the least of her work. University: consultancy piece if paid, not recognized, even if publication is done. Reports are owned by CIDA. Volunteer book never written. Can't write it up. Do use in her classroom. Students given real experience. Part of training planners. We do things differently. University only recognizes out reach program or research. You have to publish in periodic journal if research based. Full time teaching but also only teach graduate school. Masters students only. University allows 20 d per year to earn extra money. You can do volunteer work. Only travels in summer and she isn't teaching then. NGOs think that if you do volunteer work you must not be competent -- otherwise you would charge.

Bangladesh has crisis in arsenic (10 times over level). From river sediments and now in Burma also. In the sediments which for some reason are being mobilized. No science to prove why. Whole families dying painfully from it. When people won't change even when -- prestige socially acceptable, tube well gives prestige.

Change is difficult. How do you make people change? Status.

Another route to CIDA (tier 1 funding) is open to universities. [Involves] different branch of CIDA that would commit to working with a project. University to university based. Working out of a university is very difficult place to work out of.

Part II: Gaden Relief Projects (Tibet)

Robbie: Zadoh at 13,000 ft. grown 4 times size in last 10 years as heavy snowfall and herders now farming.

Town counsel met 2 years ago. Sanitation issues go back to this council. Local pharmacy of Tibetan Medicine is the major focus. Durability and sustainability of local health care is the focus though western doctors visit and provide self contained clinic/care for a couple of weeks per year.

Coldest temp -10 below zero 25. snowing now and rain. Lots of sun, cloud stay in Himalayas and not much in this area. '95 ice storm caused huge animal loss. [Nomads were forced to settle in towns.] No jobs, no training, no idea... Roaming in streets, government provides little. Qinghai is poorest and most remote [province in China], forgotten, communication and travel is so difficult.

Question: Group in Zadoh, Tibet, is a committee, not an NGO. There isn't any. No way to transfer money. Who would managing the expenditure? A committee, a decision making structure. Decision made here. Bank account. Recommendation for Canada CIDA fund. Does require a local partner. U to $50,000 for first project. The local site must apply to the Canadian embassy in Beijing. Describe to you what to put in the proposal. Deadline for coming year is around Mar. 15th. CIDA runs a workshop -- Ruth Schapiro (nee Groberman), Edmonton, advise and has been there for last 30 years. Seem to welcome funding documents from Tibet. Some individuals at CIDA are sympathetic. Encouraging info given. Get the contact from Zadoh to apply. Describes priorities and guidelines.

Canada fund China doc #2, must demonstrate that you can manage the money. Institutionalize the committee.

To access CIDA need to have reports written and applications filled out. Or Department of Foreign Affairs is another funding source.

Public Health

Nonita: Local committee advising of local needs. What can we do on small or larger scale in Public Health issues? Veterinarian, David Vagner Thaves (Mennonite -- works in Kenya and elsewhere -- looks from ecosystem and health). David write about what he does and that is how we know.

Nonita's projects -- 400,000 disaster project in India. Didn't understand how hard the caste system is. NGO was doing wonderful things with sanitation and housing sanitation, but university wouldn't help. In Bangladesh [she is] monitoring project but seeing impact of arsenic situation. Trying to develop public health project around it. She is at a distance most of the time. Too many projects refused to work with government. $20 million project [failed?] because they ignore government. The most successful project she has had and worked with 10 countries and made sure it benefited everybody. Not only for poor or women only but also for all. Decision can be twisted. Requires close monitoring.

India has active NGOs, and so does Latin America, so they don't need outsiders, but in some countries people are simple. They know what problem but need outside situation and are more vulnerable. Philippines won't allow mess ups. Foreign NGOs will be kicked out.

Latin America and Thailand will do it, if you can find the money: need money but can do without involvement.

South-South transfer: India helping Tibet etc. [People of the South] know the problems and how to deal with them. Don't get much money for that. You just have to reserve it. Should have something about networking. YMCA in Thailand. Don't hesitate to ask for more money than you need.

Example: Women stirring the pot and feeding baby, nursing mother cannot have sex and [foreign] doctor had no idea about these cultural issues. Were going to feed child, weren't sure whether they could eat bananas, [but if] nursing mother eats banana, has to pay money for banana -- [NGO worker had] no idea about the local context, the reasons for why the people are not doing and doing. Have to find out. Understand the local context.

Robbie: Local people are very open and receptive.

Nonita: Make [public health education] fun. What are the local games, modify the game [as a way to get points across to people]. Theatre -- stick theatre -- amazing what it can achieve. [Was used to explain danger of] pesticide on coffee. Explain to witch doctor and they explain to them. He issued a taboo. Local theatre in the local language and easy to remember. Media more effective.

Public education, contests, if town council made a site we could provide funds for a garbage truck. E.g. Lowest caste in India, use carts, privatized and now organized with the university. Compost everything. Assisted by the local university. Experiment to make bricks made of newspaper, money from U of Florida, factory-waste processing plant. Working environment cleaner, usable etc. Roads are not passable so trucks won't work [carts were better].

Other Sources of Funding

Robbie: Informal small projects has been the style locally. We want to provide curriculum and education and having other funding agencies and what they require. Who do we work with? Would require receipts etc. which are not available.

Canadian meds. HT, cholesterol problems, cysts in liver, treatable disease echinococcus parasite -- sheep, yak, dog people. Take on a health issue. Through screening with US or requires a level of training and system. But nothing exists at the moment. Champion of the problem/project at the local level. Wash house, water, model site for good hygiene. How quickly do you move into a community? How are you sustainable? People won't change until they see that there is a problem. You can't tell them that there is a problem. Or that there is a benefit of change. Be small and effective for a while.

Rob: CIDA won't like you, can't develop a relationship with CIDA, because they keep changing they pass through people who are training to be diplomats, no experts at outset, no continuity.

Nonita: Don't hit the top or PM6-project manag't level; [instead try the] EX1 executive level -- they know who to call, how to go about it. Developing regional expertise to know something then they might be transferred. They know the ropes and channels. If they believe in you, they'll do it.

Internal connection -- institutional funding -- how to we reach these people, how to identify them.

Lisa Armstrong, in charge of CIDA Tibet fund (see notes). She is very welcoming. Basic human needs in Tibet, food and nutrition etc.

Rob: Seek independent foundation money. You don't spend so much time chasing and waiting for them to respond 6 months later. CIDA is very restricted. It is a government bureacracy.

Robbie: Look at key focussed health issues. Develop approach. What has worked in other parts of Tibet. Research it. 4-5 major health issues. Before you start that some kind of office is needed, you invest in order to develop. What we know will be useful and write about it. Write articles. Won't be shifting target to please audience if we stay small. Funding sources: individual-show video and slides, website attracts 3,

[Current features of present GRP] that attract funding: no administrative costs, direct benefit, sustainable, give skills not stuff.

How sustainable is GRP fundraising?

Hollywood actors foundation

We can only inform the people. Encourage schools to run programs. Vince Carter to speak about... local heroes of the children? Local people need to be educated because they don't know which way sickness comes. People don't have education and don't know how to approach their own governments are afraid of the communist regime. They must see a reason for applying for money. They have to see a link -- the glitter. They can see that they can live better and they can do it themselves. You have to give them the alternatives, so they can see their way out (see there is a problem).

Nonita: Swiss Sandec (email Nonita to get address for newsletter) Swiss NGO almost everything is on sanitation -- describe in detail on how to treat. Novib (dutch), Swiss and Dutch, Japan has a huge foreign aid budget. Like to spend on equipment. Incinerators, etc.

How to write a proposal (document 6). Outside values -- bringing in change.

Proposal should be integrating environment, health and education, women and children. Preventive medicine, the link between what they eat and what they do.

E.g. Brazil landless peasant movement -- occupy land -- good, people say, as long as not too many people in prison.

Monitoring and measurement: How to measure effectiveness, results based goals, steps to achieve and how far along you got? Implementation but what about effect impact assessment, changing practices? Focus group. What has changed? Other agents there. If your project is not the only project you might not be able to claim, i.e. a doctor there, might be he is partly responsible. Curriculum, interview, did you change what you did because of what you learned. People who were trained have better jobs.


-- Department of Foreign Affairs

-- CIDA see *

-- Private funding bodies: Canadian Centre for Philanthropy and web sites: easy to find and can put us in touch. Sift through and search by key words, themes health, women, Kellogg Foundation-established school of planning. Community outreach. McConnell foundation based in Toronto a lot of money they can't find money for. Introduce Bill gates foundation-technology. Regional in George Soros speculated on currency millionaire. National foundations in European countries. Find ones that support hinterlands and the margins where they don't have much support. Buddhist groups.

-- Rotary -- cost $5000 US dollars to make pills with Tibetan medicines -- taking young Tibetan students, teach them in traditional way, environmental care and education and Tibetans themselves see the value of using the system.

-- Partnership branch. Gaden relief has to be $25,000 per year [to qualify]. A certain accounting per year and local NGO partner might have it. Legally constituted committee.

Conrad: Would Nonita like to be involved, be in touch, to what extent could we call upon her?

Nonita: David Falgner [might be better suited, this] is the type of work he does. He does like to write it and share it with others. If he wants to be involved, Lambert Otten also. [He is] professor compost. Works in Colombia and other countries. His heart is in the right place. Committed. Wish to live their ideals. Nonita does industrial waste. She would be willing to be learn from David and apply it. If you decide to go to CIDA she would be willing to review the proposal. [She has been successful, to the tune of] 7 million dollars in ten years to this university. Can find names and sound out from CIDA. Think of learning from the NGO's of the regions, whoa re already going through the situation.

If you have money to bring in Filipino NGOs are the best in the world. In Philippine's 100 years of history where intellectuals work in the people who are actually working. 1000 women's groups. Gabrielle -- they have amazing mobilization skills and can work in the field. CIDA's money is our money. Tax payer's money. Learn to live with mistakes. Corruption you want to avoid.

Needs someone to go who knows about the problems -- educate people need three months someone who could donate time, training of trainers. It has to be local... the local language. How do people celebrate? Dance-horse race, monastery, market, health clinic, Zadoh city council. Composting toilet, worm toilet.

[Notes prepared by Candace Cole, lightly edited by Conrad Richter]