Marie Pillar - General Care Projects in Nepal
I knew my journey had really begun when my plane was descending into Kathmandu airport. The land was so contrasting; beneath me the land looked rustic, lots of oranges and browns, the hillside was tiered with little houses made of wood and corrugated iron and against the dry landscape was the backdrop of the snow capped mountains of the Himalayan Mountain range. It was a whole other world and I was so excited about finally arriving in Nepal.
I was greeted at the airport by a Projects Abroad representative and taken to a hotel where I met some other new volunteers and had an induction. The following day I was taken to the school where I would be living and then I was taken to the Life Development Centre (LDC), which would be my work placement for the next two months. As soon as I entered LDC I was met by lots of children, talking quickly in Nepalese and looking at me with curious and excited faces. They run up to shake your hands and hug you, they are so eager to show you what they are doing or the little things they have. It was such a warm welcome and it continued over the next two months. I had such an amazing experience and I wish I could do it all over again.
You get the chance to get as involved in the culture as you like, you eat the traditional dish called Dahl Baht, we attended Nepalese dance lessons, we also all wore traditional saris for a school picnic and got involved in all the festivals which they seem to have every week there. One particular festival called 'Holi', was the festival of colour. During this time the streets came alive as every one throws water balloons, buckets of water and coloured dye at each other.
It was a lot of fun even though you are scrubbing your skin for weeks after, still trying to get the dye off! You get the chance to have so much fun, make new friends and most importantly have a positive impact on the people you are working with.
At LDC the students had learning difficulties ranging from mild to severe; this means everyday can be different depending on who you are working with. The activities could include teaching basic English and numeracy, arts and crafts, playing football, badminton or rounders, or painting and dancing. You can also take a few of the children out into the town or to nearby attractions. Also as a volunteer you have your weekends free to explore other parts of the country.
Nepal has so much to offer your weekends are full of exploring; whether its white water rafting, trekking, going on Buddhist retreats or visiting the many beautiful temples and stupas around Nepal, it really is a beautiful country.
The Nepalese people have the happiest faces and are the friendliest people I have ever met; although a poor country it is spiritually so rich and I feel lucky I had the opportunity to enjoy part of their culture and been welcomed into their lives.
The importance of volunteers in Nepal is so significant, the students at LDC love having volunteers as we guarantee lots of fun, lots of laughing and lots of cuddles. Because of this type of programme you really do bond with the children and make lots of new friends. I am now looking forward to my next trip back and can't wait until I see them all again.
This volunteer story may include references to working in or with orphanages. Find out more about Projects Abroad's current approach to volunteering in orphanages and our focus on community-based care for children.