Dreaming of Nepal
Nepal is a country that has always appealed to me. And not because of anything I really knew about it. It was more my impressions of what I thought the country was like that made me so curious to visit.
I remember hearing a lot about Nepal when I was young. In school, we learned about Edmund Hillary, the NZ mountaineer and his Nepali sherpa Tenzing Norgay who were the first men to summit Mt Everest. And the stories and photos of friends who travelled to remote regions of the country to help build hospitals, schools and villages intrigued me.
Towering mountains, windy rough roads, difficult to get around, welcoming people, yaks, tea houses, prayer flags, temples. I had to check it out for myself.
I decided to spend 2 months volunteering, and then another month trekking around the Mt Everest region.
Volunteering in Nepal
I was keen to help out people in a community and decided, (since my building and medical skills are rather basic) that I could teach English to kids. It took a bit of research to narrow which organisation I should sign up with but I finally settled on International Volunteers HQ – IVHQ for short.
IVHQ staff visit every destination to assess the suitability of the location, organisations, people, accommodation and projects. They then team up with local organisations, creating jobs for locals and ensuring volunteers help out where they are actually needed. Add to that, their fees were reasonable, they provided a lot of support throughout the programme and the email contact I had with them was fantastic. It satisfied my quizzical mind that they aligned with my own outlook and values.
My senses were on overload from the second I landed in Kathmandu. We’ve all been taught not to speak to strangers, but this advice goes completely out the window when you travel. And I wouldn’t have had an amazing day being shown Kathmandu by a young local girl named Chameli if I hadn’t!
My volunteering experience began with a 198km, 8.5 hour bus ride from hell from Kathmandu to Pokhara! I soon settled into my home stay living and began figuring out how to teach English to about 40 wild kids! The teachers at school welcomed me into every aspect of their lives, inviting me over for dinners and out to celebrations.
IVHQ encourages its volunteers to get out and explore the places they go to. Our team of Pokhara volunteers took a rather eventful route to get to the southern Chitwan province, before teaming up with our colleagues on a 2 day safari around Chitwan. Two girlfriends and I spent another 3 days hiking around Poon Hill, a mountain only 2 hours drive from our home. And there are plenty of touristy things to do as well around Pokhara meaning I was never bored.
The strength of Nepal
A country with so little that offers so much to all who visit.
If you travel here, please go with an open mind. Expect to be challenged both physically and mentally. Expect the unexpected. And expect to come away with a very different outlook on life. I certainly did. And I’m so grateful for all my experiences here.