I was born in Eastern Nepal and moved to Kathmandu to complete my Bachelor’s degree in Law and Master’s degree in Political Science. I also worked as a Senior Language Instructor, Cross-cultural Informant, and Volunteer with Peace Corps Nepal, School for International Training (SIT), Gap Activities Project (GAP), Canadian Crossroads International (CCI), Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO), NDI, European Commission (EC), and with several otherdevelopment projects and individuals. I cycled cross country US from San Francisco to Washington DC through Just Act.
What makes the country of Nepal so special and what do you love about living here? Where are you located?
Well, Nepal is a country of High Himalayan Mountains, artistic monuments, exotic wildlife, colorful festivals and diverse culture. Nepal is a home of unique topographical and climatic diversity. Nepal is often considered the biggest natural museum in the world. Occupying only 0.1% of the earth this ancient Hindu kingdom is home to:
2% of all flowering plants in the world
8% of the world’s population of birds
(more than 848 species)
4% of mammals on earth
11 of the world’s 14 families of butterflies
(more than 500 species)
600 indigenous plant families
319 species of exotic orchids
and of course…33 million gods!
We are located in the northern suburbs of Kathmandu
What types of volunteer opportunities do you provide
It all starts with the cultural immersion program, with a bit of adventure and sightseeing so volunteers can observe the lifestyle of the local people. We offer many different placements so that volunteers can use their interests as well as their specialties and abilities to help the local people of Nepal. We try our best to give priority to the interests of the volunteers as we believe they should do what they love while adding value and helping the ones in need.
Once volunteers arrive, what can they expect? (arrival process)
There is a saying that, ‘if we have expectation, there is frustration’. However, when volunteers arrive we understand they have had a long journey, and normally want to settle in. We try to make them comfortable with the Nepali lifestyle and give them more information about the country and its way of life.
How do international participants manage language and culture barriers?
Well firstly, all of our staff speak and understand English. During the orientation, we give a basic knowledge about the Nepali language in order for them to get to know the country better. We also provide a session on the cross culture about the do’s and don’ts of the Nepali way of life. And throughout the program we help and support them with all the information and cautions so that they feel comfortable and happy in Nepal.
Can you share some important cultural customs, traditions, norms, or “need to knows”
Every country has its own cultural values, customs, traditions and norms. In Nepal, there are certain customs and traditions especially in terms of clothing, toileting, eating, bathing of which we give all the knowledge to the participant during the first day of the orientation so that it would help them prepare for the new country.
How has international participation had an impact on your programs and the community?
They have been supporting and helping the community and its people who are in need of assistance via our various programs for kindergartens, schools, women empowerment, special education, earthquake disaster relief, animal shelters, hospitals and more! I am happy to say that with that little help some children were able to get proper education and shelter. Also some animals from our dog rehabilitation project have received proper homes around the world.
What has been the response from the NGO’s and community about interactions with international participants?
They are very happy to receive the volunteers in their institutions. They welcome them and support them during the participants’ stay. Some of the schools and centers find it a great assistance to provide an opportunity to interact with international volunteers so that they learn about a different country, culture and traditions while of course learning and conversing in English.
We are recognized by many public as well as non-governmental organizations locally in our efforts with the international volunteers to help the ones who are in need.
What can participants expect to experience in a typical day here?
Monday to Friday, you will start your day with breakfast at our center at 8.00 am after which you will be transferred to your project at 9.00 am. You will be engaged at the project till 12.00 noon and then you will be back for lunch at 12.30. After lunch, you will get a little free time to get ready for the evening session which will start at 2.00 pm and will continue at the project till 4.00 pm. After the day’s work at the project you will be back at the center to relax. At 7.30 you will have dinner at the center.
Apart from daily routine at their placement sites, the volunteers can explore the world heritage sites, local markets, temples, and ‘Kumari’ one of the living goddesses and the lifestyle of the local people.
Can you tell me about the food and accommodation for participants?
The volunteers receive 3 meals for weekdays and 2 meals for weekends. We provide traditional Nepali food as well as western food and have options for everyone who is veg or non-veg. Participants love the food we provide and we make sure that everyone feels full and happy with every meal.
Accommodation in Kathmandu is where the volunteers get all the facilities and shared rooms shall be given to participants including lockers. We have wifi in the common area and an open dining room facing the city and the mountains around.
What are the best places to visit or things to do on days off, while here? (weekend trips, local sightseeing, activities, food, etc)
“Thamel” is one of the touristic downtowns where the participants can go to buy souvenirs and gift items.There are various cultural as well as historical plus natural heritage sites, viewpoints, Durbar Square, exotic wildlife, white water rafting, bungee jumping, paragliding and many more.
What facilities are available nearby and what can a participant expect to spend on weekly expenses here?
We do have nearby grocery stores, banks, ATMs, local transportation and taxis. It takes only 10-15 minutes’ walk to reach nearest café and restaurant to enjoy a weekend meal or to reach the swimming pool, tennis court or the library.
How can participants best contribute to their programs and their own experience?
Every person has their own interests, views, ideas and opinions. But to be the best and contribute to their program they should have their plan and vision how they can make their stay meaningful and mutually beneficial and it would be a memory for their entire life.