Part 2 of the Storytelling Series in Nepal: Crew
Photojournalist and documentary filmmaker Steve Connors serves as the Master Storyteller for the Hilton Prize Coalition Storytelling Program. He is traveling throughout Nepal this month to capture the experiences of the six Coalition member organizations who mobilized in response to the devastating earthquakes of 2015 – and share stories about their staff and personnel, the individuals they serve, and, most importantly, their communities as a whole. What follows is the second of a series of reflections from his journey.
Bringing Together a Wonderful Crew
by Steve Connors
Saturday, February 13, 2016. Kathmandu, Nepal
We’ve had a good week. By “we,” I mean my new team and I, who were able to get off to a good start thanks to the exceptional organisational abilities of HelpAge Nepal’s Ms. Rasmi Dangol.
First, we needed a videographer, and, by a stroke of luck, Mr. Shankar Pradhananga, National Director of SOS Children’s Villages, knew just the man. Mr. Shyam Strestha is a highly experienced professional with more than 30 years behind the camera. He is now the senior cameraman on Nepal’s top television news station, Kantipur TV. Nine years ago, Shyam was also the cinematographer for a Nepalese documentary about the history and work of SOS Children’s Villages. Working with him this week has been a real pleasure.
Our team also needed an assistant, a request SOS once again filled with aplomb. For a number of reasons I’ve always enjoyed working with young people: they tend to be very open-minded, willing to try something new, and appreciate an opportunity to learn. It also gives me a chance to pass something along.
Now 27 years of age, Mr. Amul Thapa was brought up by his aunt, and at the age of nine, was delivered into the care of SOS, where, as is their tradition, he became a part of a new family, with a new mother and siblings. A few years ago, Amul struck out on his own, becoming a photographer, and cares for his now widowed aunt, as she had done for him. He frequently returns to the village in which he was raised, and says of it, “Whenever I go back to SOS Kave it is like going to heaven."
It has given me quite considerable joy this week to watch him treat with people of all ages and backgrounds, to see him light up their day with his gentle humour, and surely leave behind a memory of their meeting with him.
I mentioned Rasmi earlier. At 26, Rasmi has a Master’s degree in finance and business studies and is an Accountability Assistant at HelpAge Nepal where she has worked since 2014. Given that background and job title it would be natural to assume that Rasmi is very much at home in the office, but during last year’s earthquake crisis she was a key member of HelpAge’s field efforts; travelling to far-flung, isolated communities, to deliver desperately needed relief to some of Nepal’s most vulnerable people.
Over the next two weeks, Rasmi will be with us as we leave the capital to traverse the Kathmandu valley; journeys she has worked so hard to realise. She will be bringing along not only her talent for organising our busy schedule, but also her quiet and friendly manner which are so important in the relationships we’ll be building along the way.
Finally, we have Mr. Dawa Dai who has so far kept me from harm as he navigates the insanity of Kathmandu’s roads and traffic. I trust his skills will have things remain that way as he takes on the vertiginous mountain roads.
This project has thrown together such different people from separate organisations - and very different cultures - to fulfil a very specific task. I’ve been heartened by the degree to which everyone has worked together so smoothly, as if they’ve been doing so for months, if not years, and have fully bought in to the value of what we’re trying to achieve.