Hannah Habighorst - Physiotherapy in Nepal
I had always wanted to volunteer abroad, but I was unsure of which organisation to do my project through. There were so many different organisations and so many varied reviews. But due to the variety, price and reviews of Projects Abroad, I decided to do my project through them and I am so happy I did. The Projects Abroad staff were wonderful, I had an amazing host family, and my placement allowed me to learn so much. I was able to create friendships and memories that will last a lifetime.
Travelling to Nepal
Getting ready to travel abroad was a very confusing process for me as I had never travelled to a foreign country alone. However, Jessica, my Volunteer Advisor, was helpful. She always responded and answered my questions fully and to the best of her ability. I also used the pre-departure website (MyProjectsAbroad) all the time and it was extremely helpful. It included information about my placement, my health concerns in Nepal, visa information, packing lists and many other helpful topics. So the combination of these helpful resources prepared me for my journey.
My host family
I have no complaints whatsoever about my experience. My host family included a mother, a father, and two daughters. The daughters became really close with me; we would go shopping together and I would assist them with their homework in the evenings. The host family was amazing and completely accommodating with everything, including certain health restrictions in my diet. They took care of all the cooking and cleaning and made me feel completely comfortable in their home. It felt as though I became part of their family. We would all play cards or sit and talk after meals. The whole family spoke English, which helped me to feel more comfortable and I could talk to them about Nepal to better understand the country and its culture.
My Physiotherapy placement
Because of my desire to become a physiotherapist, I chose to do physiotherapy work during my stay in Nepal. At first, I was placed at a rehabilitation centre for children with cerebral palsy. I learned so much from the local physiotherapist there and I got to do a lot of hands-on work. We would pull children out of the classroom and perform exercises with them. The children were so wonderful and full of life. After becoming more comfortable with the placement, the physiotherapist would allow me to do many of the exercises independently, allowing me to gain much more experience than I could in America.
At one point, my placement was no longer suitable for me to work in, since the children went on summer vacation. With the help of the Projects Abroad staff, I was able to change placements and begin a new journey at a physiotherapy clinic. Here, I was able to assist with physiotherapy treatment for local people who had suffered from strokes, traumatic brain injuries, trauma and other injuries. It was a completely different experience to my first placement and it was amazing to see such different sides of this profession in a foreign country. The clinic had both inpatient and outpatient care units, so I was able to see a wide range of patients. As the physiotherapist at the clinic became more comfortable with me, I was able to gain more and more independence within the clinic. I performed a range of motion, tissue, wound and strength therapies. I truly felt as though I made a difference in these individuals’ lives.
My free time
I was able to create many friendships during my time abroad. I met other individuals from around the world. I created relationships with the other volunteers that lived in my host house. There was never a time I was alone in the house, which was wonderful, and I was able to learn about the cultures of the other volunteers’ home countries. We all became super close through taking adventures around the town together. Having other people to be tourists with allowed me to be much more adventurous every day! It is also very helpful to live with the same people who go to your work every day – that way you travel to and from work together and decrease your chances of getting lost in the crazy streets of Nepal!
We had weekly social events that were open to all volunteers in Nepal and they were a great opportunity to meet other people from around the world. These events were really wonderful to attend. Not only were they great fun, as we did yoga, cooked tradition meals, or learned the national language, it also allowed us to connect with other volunteers we normally would not have met because they were doing different projects and were staying at different homes to us.
I was also able to travel around Nepal creating unbelievable memories. Projects Abroad created many opportunities for us all to connect with each other and also planned weekend excursions for the volunteers. These things made it easy to truly experience Nepal and bond with volunteers from very different backgrounds. The weekend trips were always already planned for us or the staff were willing to assist us in figuring out travel plans.
During my stay in Nepal, I was able to travel to both Pokhara and Chitwan. I had the most amazing time in both places. In Pokhara I went white water rafting, rappelling through waterfalls, and hiked to World Peace Stupas. While in Chitwan, I was able to see wild animals on jungle safaris, and experience wildlife while canoeing through rivers. Both places allowed me to get further enjoyment out of my journey to Nepal. When I wasn’t travelling to other places, my weekends were still filled with fun. The other volunteers and I would explore the town, see local temples, or just enjoy each other’s company- there was always something to do!
My overall experience
My time abroad was nothing but the best and, as my last day in Nepal started to approach, I found myself not ready to leave this beautiful country I had started to consider home. Nepal is the most wonderful place, full of people who are so full of life, a culture that will change your entire view on life, and adventures that you will remember forever. If you want to make a change in the world while creating memories and having the world change you, then the Physiotherapy Project in Nepal is a perfect fit for you!