In June 2017, I went to Nepal to volunteer on the Childcare & Community Work project in Kathmandu. My gap year was coming to an end and there was a voice in my head screaming to impact the world in some way before the start of the new school year. So, I thought to myself: why not volunteer in a country abroad?

Coincidentally, my mum volunteered through Projects Abroad in Nepal three years earlier. During her time in Nepal, she told me about all her adventures, and this inspired me to go to Nepal as well to contribute to the development of the country. I think one of the most special things about this trip was the fact that I was travelling to the same country as my mum had travelled to, but with one big difference: she had gone there before the earthquake of 2015 and I was travelling to it after the earthquake. It was weird to be in the same country but, at the same time, to be in a completely different world.

Once arrived at Kathmandu Airport, I was welcomed by two friendly staff members who guided a few other volunteers and me to our accommodation. This was wonderful because there wasn’t a moment where I was alone in a strange country. The two staff members gave us a warm welcome, explained us how everything was going to work and in less than ten minutes, we were sitting in a van on our way to our accommodation.

When I arrived at the hotel where I was going to stay, I was welcomed by the staff member that was going to guide my group. He explained that two others had already arrived and that the rest of the group would be arriving throughout the day. He told me he had been a staff member in Nepal for half a year and that we were going to be his last group before he would return home to Australia.

The group consisted in total of eight teens between 15-18 years old. They came from Japan, Australia, Italy, Norway, Poland and the Netherlands. Before signing up, I had secretly hoped that I would be in a group with people from all over the world because I love traveling and discovering new cultures, therefore working with people from other countries is like a dream come true.

Painting a mural in Nepal

Working as a volunteer

During the four weeks that I stayed in Kathmandu, I worked at two different schools: the first two weeks I worked at Nepal Tara School and the second part of the month I worked at Y.M.B.A. School. We received a warm welcome from both schools and were greeted by the teachers and all the students. On our first days we received a tikka, a red dot on your forehead which, according to Nepalese faith, is a sign of love for God and it protects us from evil. After the ceremony, we were shown around the school and divided into groups to teach the classes.

During class, we spoke English with the children, played hangman and told them all about our own countries. The children were eager to ask us questions about the cultures and what, for example, the most popular animals in our countries were. At the end of the week, I brought with me finger puppets to Nepal Tara School and brought bottles of bubbles to Y.M.B.A. School. The local toy store in my village in the Netherlands had sponsored me and so I was able to give these out as presents to the kids. They loved their new toys and ran around the school to show them to everyone. I helped the youngest kids blow bubbles and the principal even pulled out his camera to capture the special moment.

Besides teaching English, we also helped painting the school. At Nepal Tara School, we painted the outside of the school and at Y.M.B.A. School, we painted the classrooms. We decorated the classrooms with wild animals, flags and funny characters. During the painting, the children who had class waved at us as we walked by smiling with our wet paintbrushes.

Samara on her Childcare placement

Weekend activities

Besides teaching, we went on a lot of trips to different places in or nearby Kathmandu. From the monkey temple (Swayambhunath) to the Bauddhanath stupa, every place we visited was breathtaking. Together with a girl from Norway, I took tons of pictures to share with my friends and family.

We also did many other activities: we took a Nepali language course, joined a dance course, did yoga, cooked Nepali food, watched a fire dance performance and much more. There was something amazing planned every day. The most impressive thing was a mountain trek we did at five o'clock in the morning to watch the sunrise over the Himalayas.

Time went by far too quickly and as I was packing my suitcase, I realised I didn’t feel like going home yet at all. If it were possible, I would have stayed for a few more weeks, but, unfortunately, school was about to start again, and I had to go back home.

Afterwards, people often ask me what my favourite moment in Nepal was, but to be honest, I can't choose a favourite. The whole trip was amazing, and I enjoyed every moment of it. The people, their hospitality, the children, their enthusiasm: everything was incredible. I could get onto a plane at any moment and fly back!

Playing with children in Nepal

This is a personal account of one volunteer’s experience on the project and is a snapshot in time. Your experience may be different, as our projects are constantly adapting to local needs and building on accomplishments. Seasonal weather changes can also have a big impact. To find out more about what you can expect from this project we encourage you to speak to one of our friendly staff.

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