Sally Bodle - Care & Community in Nepal
I came across a Projects Abroad flyer at school and was interested straight away in going overseas to do some voluntary work. I had always wanted to help out a third world country in some way, and felt this would be the perfect opportunity. Once I got the nod from my parents, I asked my friend if she wanted to come along too.
After months of fundraising and working we were finally headed to the airport on our huge 20 hour journey to Nepal. Projects Abroad had given us all of the information we needed so we were pretty confident in what we were doing. When we finally arrived it was a bit of a change to what we were used to. The airport was a bit daunting but once on the road to the hotel we relaxed a bit and took it all in.
Once we had met our friendly group members and super helpful Projects Abroad staff we started work at our first placement, a small school 30 minutes away, where we were to paint 4 classrooms and transform them from bare concrete walls to colourful and inspiring learning areas. This was a good start to our volunteering as we could work as a team and get to know one another better.
During breaks the children were so eager for us to play with them and hold our hands. It was very warming to see how happy these children were.
Evening activities and weekend trip
Each night after work we would head out to our main shopping street where we could go into any shop and get the usual souvenirs (this included stopping at a Saree shop to get decked out in local Nepali gear). A hotspot on that street was a French Baguette store, the guy made a fortune from us!
Once week one was over, we packed our bags for a weekend trip to Chitwan National Park. The journey there was a good 7 hours and a bit different to driving here in New Zealand, our driver was very safe though and provided some good music!
We arrived to our Jungle Lodge where we were assigned our cabins then set off to catch the sunset at the river’s edge. The next day we had an early start for our first activity of canoeing down the River Rapta. The canoes were really narrow and long and threatened to tip a few times, which we were most certainly not keen for that as we had seen the huge crocs sunbathing the previous day.
After an hour of canoeing we pulled up to the side of the river and started a jungle walk back to the lodge. On the way we stopped at an elephant sanctuary where we saw how they fed and looked after them. The next day we were crossing the river again to make it over to the other side for a five hour jungle safari. We loaded onto the little jeeps and set off, seeing Deer, Crocs, Lizards and a huge Rhino!
After the safari we had dinner (which was an amazing curry and vegetables) and then loaded onto a back of a ute and headed off to see a cultural show. We were invited up on the final dance to join in, soon we were laughing and dancing in the Nepalese style! We then headed back to another exciting week of volunteering.
The second week was spent at another (larger) school where we taught educational games to preschool aged kids and also primary aged school children.
They were all really excited, so much so that it was sometimes quite hard to teach. However, their English was really impressive and they listened to us carefully. We taught them new games which they promptly picked up and started playing themselves, which was really cool to see.
We also took the pre-schoolers in a lesson to brush their teeth properly. We gave them an introduction of how and why we brush our teeth and then handed out their very own toothbrushes for them to try out and take home. It was all very exciting and we all shared lots of laughs.
For the final Friday we headed back to our original school where we hung out with all the kids and said our farewells. They all wanted to show us their songs and games. A farewell was held by the staff and they thanked us with a cup of tea and some biscuits. We were also gifted a bottle of mustard seed oil, which was made locally, as a thank you for painting the school. At that stage we didn’t realise how much we would miss the smiling faces of the children. On that happy note we then went out for dinner in our Sarees for our own farewell.
Nepal was one of the most amazing trips that I have experienced. The country was so different and the people had so much to give and always had a smile. To this day I still contact the friends I made in Nepal. Without the awesome help of the Projects Abroad team and the bunch of friends that we made it wouldn’t have been the same. Doing a volunteer project like this is something I highly recommend doing! It’s a chance to see a new country and do something worthwhile... and it will be an experience that you will never forget.
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.