Nick James Macaluso, an alumnus of GlobeMed at Tufts, is currently working with our partner organization, Practical Help Achieving Self-Empowerment (PHASE) Nepal at their headquarters in Bhaktapur. He answered some questions about his experience over email.
PHASE’s new office building
Nick James (NJ) Macaluso graduated from Tufts last year and was a GlobeMed member during his time as an undergraduate. He served as GlobeMed at Tufts’ Grassroots Onsite Work (GROW) Coordinator on our executive board. The GROW team organizes our summer internship projects; NJ was able to visit PHASE Nepal during the summer of 2014 as a GROW intern. He is currently working with PHASE Nepal at their headquarters in Bhaktapur. He works under the Communications Manager, and has been helping with PHASE’s website, including creating graphics and generating future website content, among other projects.
NJ’s biggest project with PHASE so far has been creating a summary sheet for each Village Development Committee (VDC) where PHASE works; he described a VDC as “kind of like the subgroup of each district—for example, Rayale is a VDC of Kavre.” These summary sheets include project information, donors, and demographic information.
NJ is also helping plan the 2016 GROW trip. His history with GROW and previous role as GlobeMed at Tufts’ GROW Coordinator has informed his work with PHASE in this aspect. He wrote, “As coordinator last year, a big part of my job was figuring out how to make the trip unique from the previous year, and I’ll continue to do that here on the ground in Nepal.” NJ will be traveling to Rayale, where this year’s team will be placed, to evaluate their needs and help next year’s team develop a project that will benefit PHASE.
The view from where NJ is living in Nepal
The massive earthquakes in Nepal on April 25th and May 12th of 2015 and their aftershocks left thousands of families without homes or livelihoods; the earthquake on April 25th was of 7.8 magnitude; the two major aftershocks on May 12th were of 7.3 and 6.8 magnitude. On NJ’s first night, there was another earthquake of 5.3 magnitude. He wrote, “It was absolutely terrifying, but such aftershocks have become the norm for most people in Nepal.” NJ was in Kathmandu at the time, relatively far from the epicenter in Sindhupalchowk, so he was unharmed.
NJ stated that since his arrival in Nepal, he has seen countless construction projects. However, Bhaktapur and Kathmandu, the two areas he has visited so far, were not among the areas that were severely damaged by the earthquake. According to NJ, many popular tourist sites were damaged; tourism is a large contributor to Nepal’s economy. For example, two of the sites he visited on his first trip to Nepal—Bhaktapur’s Durbar Square and Basantapur—have been significantly damaged by the earthquakes.
Damage in Bhaktapur from the earthquakes
PHASE Nepal’s Relief Efforts
Like the organization’s name suggests, self-empowerment is central to PHASE’s mission. As stated on their website, PHASE Nepal’s vision is “A self-empowered and self-sustained society, where all kinds of discrimination are absent.” PHASE Nepal is a non-profit, non-governmental, nonpolitical, social development organization founded in 2006. PHASE Nepal’s core programming includes health, education, and livelihood projects for disadvantaged populations in the Himalayan regions of Nepal. PHASE strives to break the cycle of poverty in these regions by helping communities achieve a self-sufficient future.
In addition to these core projects, PHASE has implemented an Emergency Relief Program for VDCs of Gorkha, Sindhupalchowk, and other districts. NJ wrote, “These projects include distribution of shelter materials and other necessary items, construction of school TLCs (Temporary Learning Centers), roof reconstruction, winterization projects, and WASH [Water And Sanitation for Health] projects. PHASE attracted many new donors around the world after the earthquake who have been responsible for these projects.”
Students celebrating Saraswati, a school holiday devoted to the Goddess of Education/Knowledge
GlobeMed After College
NJ said, “My involvement in GlobeMed definitely made this all 100% possible!” He also stated that things our chapter discussed during our weekly Global Health University (ghU) lessons have informed his volunteer work. For example, one of his projects is updating PHASE’s donors on Nepal’s progress in the Millennium Development Goals, a topic we covered in ghU last semester. He added, “GlobeMed is definitely a great tool for those who would like to work with NGOs or have a career in public health. Even the structure of GlobeMed is similar to the office structure of PHASE, and it’s nice to feel comfortable in this setting, delegating work within teams and sub-committees.”
NJ with some students of Shankhadhar Memorial School, which is located right near the PHASE office, during their Parents Day program. The students did performances, such as dancing, singing, playing musical instruments, karate, gymnastics.
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Taylor Kennedy is a senior majoring in Child Study & Human Development and Clinical Psychology. She served as GlobeMed at Tufts’ Director of Communications from 2013-2015.