Foreign / international volunteering (abroad)
For my daughter's 18th birthday I promised to take her anywhere or do anything she wanted. When the answer was I want to do volunteer working Nepal it literally brought tears to my eyes.
I was impressed with the projects available and my daughter and I opted to work at the Daycare Center in the Chitwan region. Admittedly, we were both a bit scared of the unknown on our way out to Nepal. We are both seasoned travellers but this was the first time we travelled to a less developed country and neither of us knew what to expect.
We were greeted at the airport by staff and we immediately put at ease. Despite the somewhat different (read nail-biting) drive from the airport to the hotel, we settled in and were accompanied by Phil Palmer into Kathmandu for a quick visit and a bite to eat. The first night was a shocker and an eye-opener having seen kids no more than 10 years old living on the street, camping by fires and sniffing glue to stay warm. The constant barking of the numerous wild dogs and the images of street kids made sleep that night hard to find.
The next day we were greeted by Phil and Sunju in the hotel. Sunju spent the day taking us around Kathmandu to temples, museums and markets. It was a pleasure to see Kathmandu in the daytime and we quickly felt more at ease with the environment. Phil and Sunju made sure we felt comfortable and that was well received by both my daughter and myself. We then took a bus to Chitwan where we were met by our homestay family.
Read volunteer stories from past volunteer teachers who have volunteered to teach children abroadThey brought us to our room and we rested up. They immediately made us feel at home and looked after us like family. We worked for week at the Daycare Center and working with the kids and staff was an absolute delight. From playing with them to teaching them the alphabet, washing their faces to fixing lunches, it was all just an amazing experience. Dilu and Binu (our homestay Dad and Mom) made our stay in Chitwan an excellent experience. We even had time for a few elephant safaris and jungle walks. To top it off they organized the biggest and best18th birthday party anyone could have ever imagined, with several people from the village over dancing and sharing local tradition with Lauren.
I was speechless. I was moved by the poverty. I was moved by the beauty. I was moved by how happy and friendly people can be when they have so little. Kids playing hacky sack with makeshift elastic band balls, families and friends just sitting and talking, people working on the farms, in the numerous little home shops... everything just seemed to be in harmony. For our second week we decided to travel and see some of the rest of Nepal. For the first time in 20 odd years Dilu left Binu for more than the day and came with us. He took us to Bandipur and to Pokhara looking out for us and taking us to visit some of the most amazing places we have ever seen. Upon our return to Kathmandu we met up with Phil and he found us another hotel on my request away from the howling dogs, he brought us there and made sure we got settled in before meeting up with us later that night to enjoy dinner with some new volunteers.
Past volunteers who have worked abroad with elephants give their feedbackI spent a lot of time talking to Raj and Phil and I am moved by their dedication and their selflessness. They work hard and make sure that the volunteers have an excellent experience... while helping people in Nepal get access to education, medical care, shelter, and some of their ideas and new projects on how to help Nepal have captivated me.
I would like thank everyone for making this experience possible. I highly recommend for any volunteer looking to help people and gain an amazing and unforgettable experience.