Binita Maharjan
CWIN Nepal
Location: Nepal
Occupation: Humanitarian aid worker.
Binita, 31, is a young woman living in Kirtipur Municipality of Kathmandu, Nepal. She started her engagement with social work from very early age with involvement in the training organized by Nepal Red Cross for young people in her community. This training provided her with Basic First Aid and Search and Rescue training with purpose of providing services during emergencies. During the time, she was involved in many community level simulation exercises that built her skills to deal with emergency situations of any kind. Time gradually passed, and she continued her education along with active participation in community level volunteer work that continually enhanced her capacity in this field.
Year 2012 welcomed her with an opportunity to work with non-governmental organization named Lumanti Support group for Shelter project that was funded by Oxfam. Her role during the time was a social mobilizer in a community whose prime responsibility was to enhance the health sector which was a pilot project. To support community to prepare the health plan was the major activity. This project helped her build capacity to develop rapport with health institutions. She gathered many knowledge of health-related drills especially during mass casualty management.
This project improved Binita’s capacity and understanding of Disaster Risk Reduction and Health Sector Preparedness. Working closely with the communities at local level gave her an insight towards real-life scenarios and preparedness during emergency situations. After the completion of this project, she was appointed as community based social mobilizer where she worked with community members to make them aware and prepared for disaster situation through Water, Sanitation and Hygiene interventions. Most importantly, she learned what ‘Humanitarian’ meant.
According to Binita, humanitarians’ main aim is to prepare community to deal with any kinds of emergencies that may face them. And, this is exactly what she learned from her years of experience in this sector. Particularly in this project, she learned about the programs and activities to prepare, aware and capacitate local authorities as well. Besides, there were many more activities in the projects as training, campaign, infrastructure development, stock piling of emergency materials that taught many aspects of disaster. Involvement in all these provided spaces to learn and understand various perspectives of working with local government as well. Her contribution has been considered as community champion.
While Binita was continuing to contribute, and learning new skills, disastrous earthquake hit Nepal in 2015 which gave her a chance to practice all that she had learned. Her district was badly hit by the quakes. Many houses were damaged and many people lost their lives. Binita was in her house when earthquake struck. Grabbing the first aid kits and a Go bag, she ran out of the house along with her family members. Many houses were damaged and many people lost their lives. When remembering those days, she gets goosebumps.
“The tragic moment of losing your family and friends, but also keep the head high to support desperate people in needs was very challenging,”
said Binita, recalling the situation back then. 
During the time, she was mobilized by her team to stay in ground zero to communicate with existing committees, government agencies and funding partners to provide better humanitarian services to those in need. Binita is very thankful towards her team in trusting in her and allowing her to contribute first handedly in her community during the critical time.
In the very moment, blanket approach was the only option as many were affected. We carried out one-to-one communication with the affected family members; assessments to identify the basic needs. “We prioritized based on sources available and then supported the needy. Collaborated with Disaster Management Committees to work in coordination with the government for required intervention,” said Binita. Situation was very dreadful and immediate help was required.
The journey from a young volunteer to social mobilizer to a project officer at the present has made her a person she wants to become, and that is a Humanitarian. Despite of various challenges, such as lack of good numbers of tarpaulin and relief materials for everybody, she continued to face the everyday situation with great courage and calmness. Expectations from the community were rising, however, supply of relief materials were not smooth. Binita played a key role in identify the needs and connecting it to agencies who provided relief materials in that area.
“One moment when our team were sitting in an open space in nearby University with large number of Water, sanitation and Hygiene materials were stockpiled, a group of men came with a sharp knife (khukuri), expecting us to give them foods or tarpaulins. It was hard to convince them what it was. It was the most frightening part as anything could have happened - desperate times called for desperate actions, I believe,”
said Binita.
Binita’s favorite part of her journey is about learning many new things that perhaps was not possible to attain in schools and universities. In her journey, she faced many challenges where she was unable to convince people to apply and follow certain procedures of preparedness. “Convincing communities to shift from their traditional approaches has been a challenge,” she recollects. However, she considers it as part of the learning process in her life. She is ever committed to work as a Humanitarian to uplift peoples’ lives from adversity.