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Winter School "Microfinance in Action" in Nepal, 2018 (4th Edition)

University of Padova's students heading to Nepal for the Winter School "Microfinance in Action"

The Winter School “Microfinance in Action”, promoted by the the Human Rights Centre of the University of Padova, will last from 22th of September to 7th of October 2018.

Eight selected students from the Master's Degree in Human Rights and Multi-level Governance headed by Professor Alberto Lanzavecchia flew from Venice to Kathmandu and traveled around different areas of Nepal for an active and experienced-based learning on how microfinance can be a tool for eradicating poverty and reducing inequalities in a human rights perspective.

The first part of this project was aimed at receiving an academic background on microfinance as an economic development instrument. The students worked together on the first week with other eight Nepalese students from the Apex College and Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu. Workshops included not only frontal lectures held by Professor Lanzavecchia and by professors of Apex College, Kishore Dhungana and Bharat Thapa, on the comparison between microfinance in Nepal and Europe, but also encompassed institutional meetings with experts from microfinance institutions such as the Nepal Rastra Bank, the Centre for Microfinance, Muktinath Bikas Bank or NGOs such as Volunteers Initiative Nepal, Apeiron, Mitrataa Foundation. Thanks to a well established cooperation among Human Rights Centre, CEDACRI Group and L'Osteria Volante a.p.s., this year our team will personally deliver a donation to the Central Department of Management (Tribhuvan University) of 11 laptops and academic books, in order to set up a new computer room.

After this academic exposure, students had the possibility to experience how microfinance works on field. Indeed, they visited farms and other business developed thanks to micro loans. Moreover, they were in a guest house run by one of the borrowers. These visits were guided by operators of a microfinance development Bank, Muktinath Bikas Bank Ltd., which is committed for good corporate governance practices and banking activities with prudent banking culture. Thank to its commitment, the students joined an environmental cleaning campaign aimed at mobilizing the civil society and rising awareness about this sensitive issue.

In Nepal, beside economic development, gender equality is one of the major human rights concerns. Thanks to the several meetings with women’s groups and cooperatives, the students had the possibility to experience how microfinance can be a fundamental tool to enhance women’s empowerment.

The second part of the Winter School is devoted to discover other realities in the Nepalese context more focused on human rights, gender inequalities, social discrimination and right to education. The group traveled to Butwal in the Terai region, in order to meet Aman Pariyar's family. Aman is a human rights defender and, with his association Farm House Nepal, has developed a comprehensive approach in eradicating poverty among marginalized people. Their activities range from training in farming techniques and supporting education to raising women’s rights consciousness, in cooperation with international experts.

The last days of the project were spent in Sindhupalchowk district, the region of Nepal most affected by the 2015 earthquake. In Meshipa, the students visited Shree Koldaung Devi Secondary School, damaged by the earthquake, in order to deliver the funds collected with the campaign “United for Nepal 2018”. This initiative was organized in Padova by the MA Human Rights and Multi-level Governance students with the aim to support the work of Sagarmatha International Foundation in this area. The group had the possibility to see the progresses in the reconstruction but also to talk with the teachers about further needs for this rural school’s development. They renewed the commitment and their will to further help them in the coming years.

The students who participated in the Winter School “Microfinance in Action 2018” are: Arianna Giandon, Demet Gümüş, Hải Ly, Teresa Negrini, Maria Palumbo, Maddalena Righi, Francesco Tuffi, Lycel Yeung.

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