Tegan Sharp - Care & Community in Nepal
My experience with Projects Abroad this past summer was one of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences of my life. I am a 17 year old girl from Australia and I have always had a passion for social justice. After researching many different companies I finally found Projects Abroad which offered exactly what I was looking for.
As a young person who had never been overseas before, let alone by myself, I was nervous but also extremely excited. From the airport, where we met more volunteers, we drove to Kathmandu Embassy Hotel which would be our home for the next two weeks. On arrival at the hotel we were given room allocations and I was sharing with two other female volunteers my age where we quickly became great friends.
When I woke up the next day I looked out of my hotel window and for the first time got to see what Kathmandu really looked like. While the landscape, smell and food were all very different from Australia the friendly Nepalese people helped me to transition into the Nepali way of life very quickly.
Our first day in Nepal we spent mostly at the hotel waiting to meet the rest of the volunteers arriving that day, and we also got to explore the streets nearby accompanied by one of the Projects Abroad staff members.
The following day was our first official day, so once we had woken up and had breakfast at the hotel we were given a short induction. Our placement for the first week was at school in the outer districts of Kathmandu, where we painted classrooms and got to play with the children. Upon arrival at the school we were greeted by the principal and then given a traditional welcome ceremony where we were blessed and given scarves and tikkas. We then began painting the classrooms where we split into groups of about 6 and started the base coats for 3 of the classrooms.
For the next five days we painted the classrooms and by the end of the week we had completed a total of 5 classrooms that each had murals on the walls to make it a more positive learning space. During recess and lunch at the school we got to play with the children where we taught them a few games we knew and they taught us some of their favourite Nepalese songs and games. Each afternoon we finished our placement at about 3pm and we got to do various activities that had been scheduled for our trip.
On the first night we got to go to our welcome dinner which was at a beautiful little restaurant walking distance from our hotel. Here we got to see a cultural performance while being served a variety of Nepalese entrees, main meals and desserts, which left us all feeling very full. Some of the other activities we did included: shopping for saris, quiz night, care workshops, and a language class.
Weekend trip away
In the middle weekend we got to go on a trip to Chitwan National Park which was absolutely incredible; so after breakfast we got in the buses for our 5 hour journey to Chitwan. When we arrived at our hotel we were given a guided tour of the local village and taken to a café by the river to watch the sunset over the wilderness. It was amazing to see just a different landscape in Chitwan with plants and animals compared to the sprawling concrete jungle of Kathmandu. Then we went and saw a cultural show and all got an early night for our full day of activities the following day. We got up nice and early and began our day canoeing down the river we had watched the sunset over the evening before.
Then we got to go on a jungle walk before visiting the Elephant Breeding Centre which was home to many elephants being trained and bred. After having lunch back at the hotel we got to go on a 5 hour jeep safari through the National Park where we saw two rhinos, a sloth bear, and heaps of crocodiles and deer. The following morning we got up and went birdwatching and despite foggy weather it was nice to have a walk in the wilderness before heading back to Kathmandu.
During our second week of placement we visited a HIV/AIDS children’s malnutrition home where we learnt about the foundation and got to spend time playing with the children. Then we went to another home for malnourished children, where we saw a presentation about the hospital and its rehabilitation programme.
The following days of placement were spent at a different school in Kathmandu where we got to teach the children English as well as play games with them and run a dental outreach programme. Similar to our first week, placement ended at about 3pm and we got to do heaps of fun activities in the afternoons such as: visiting a tea house, doing a yoga class, and going to both Boudhanath Temple and Monkey Temple.
On the final day of placement we went back to the school we painted in the first week and taught the children there English. Then we were given a farewell ceremony where we were again blessed and given gifts. The principal and teachers thanked us for our contribution to the school and wished us all the best for the future. That night we had a farewell dinner with our whole group where we got to wear our saris.
Finally the time came where I had to say goodbye to the lovely hotel staff and was driven to the Kathmandu Airport where I said goodbye to my wonderful projects advisor; I was sad to leave Nepal but excited to get home and tell everyone about my amazing adventure.
Another highlight of my trip was when I flew out of Nepal and got the see one of the most spectacular views I’ve ever seen of the vast Himalayan Mountains. This experience was certainly something that I will remember and cherish for the rest of my life. I am glad I took the opportunity to make new friends from all around the world while experiencing a new culture and making a positive difference to both Nepal and myself.
Read more about Care & Community Short-term Special in Nepal.