It's not about me, it's about them

Publish by : Alyna Renkema
I am now entering the final few weeks of my remote internship with CECI and SETU Nepal. It is crazy to think that this experience is almost over. As I finish up my work and enjoy the rest of my time working with my partner organization, I find myself reflecting heavily on the various things I have learned and experienced thus far. SETU Nepal is a small team that works with HIV positive women, as well as orphaned children in the Kathmandu Valley region of Nepal. The work they do is truly amazing and despite their limited personnel and resources, they have achieved so many great things. Not only do they run capacity building training programs for the women they work with, but they also run a small home for children, where they provide them with an education as well as teach them life skills like cooking and crafting. Also, as of late they have been conducting various COVID-19 relief activities in their community and are doing the best they can to be a helping hand for those in need. In all honesty, I am inspired again and again by the hard work my organization has done, is doing, and will continue to do even after my internship is over. Seeing all the amazing work that SETU Nepal does, and given the extremely difficult situations of those that they seek to help, I have oftentimes found myself feeling guilty. One of the main things I have been struggling with in terms of this guilt is how privileged I am. Through various attempts to navigate and reflect upon this privilege and my positionality as a white, middle-class, educated woman living in Canada, I find myself asking the same questions again and again. How can I possibly be any help as an intern? Who am I to even try to help? What if they don’t want my help? At my first meeting with the beneficiaries of SETU, I was nervous that they would be put off by my presence as a white girl from Canada who does not speak their language. I sat there on the video call, smiling and nodding while the group chatted in Nepalese and my supervisor frantically typed a play-by-play translation to me in our WhatsApp chat, and I couldn’t help but feel guilty simply for being there. However, this guilt was quickly dissipated, as the women welcomed me with open arms and were happy to have me join them. What followed was 20 minutes of the women showing off their various works to me, ranging from handmade clothing and recycled items made from old rice bags, to knit headbands and strings of beads. The kindness and positivity of the women I met with helped me finally come to terms with my privilege and the guilt I was feeling as a result of this. It made me re-evaluate my role as an intern and attempt to better understand the part I am playing in supporting SETU and their beneficiaries. Ultimately, it helped me finally see that this experience is not just about me. I spent too much time focusing on my own guilt, when I should have been focusing on my role as a supporting figure. I have to keep reminding myself that in the bigger picture, this is not about me, it is about SETU and their beneficiaries. That is what is important in the grande scheme of things. Ultimately, these past two months have been an extremely eye-opening and positive experience for me as an individual. I look forward to my last few weeks working with CECI and SETU Nepal and hope to continue to grow as a student, an intern, and as a person - all thanks to this experience.

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