What is it Like to Volunteer in Nepal
Wondering if Nepal a good country to volunteer? Interested to learn more about the experience and what is it like to actually live and work here? Liam Welch spent two months in Nepal and shares his experience why volunteering in Nepal is worthwhile and how it will exceed your expectations.
The Projects I Chose
I booked two volunteer programs in Nepal with International Volunteer HQ IVHQ. I spend 2 months living and working in Nepal and you can view more information about my time working on the two programs below. I have also put in brackets the length of time I suggest when selecting these types of programs, some people only did 1 or 2 weeks and even they said they wished they stayed longer.
Construction Volunteer Program (I recommend minimum of 4 weeks)
I was placed in the most beautiful home stay in Padampokhari village in Chitwan, I was to reside here for 1 month and what a month it turned out to be. There was nothing in this location other than the locals and your other volunteer peers, I came here to volunteer so I wasn’t expecting to be placed somewhere where I could go out in the evenings and treat it like ‘home’.
I was very happy with the location as I really wanted to be emerged in the culture of Nepal. I fell in love with my village and especially my host-family, they were great. I was lucky enough to be placed here and be the first volunteers to start this new project which is why I felt a lot my satisfaction from my construction volunteer project. On the other hand, others who decided on Pokhara for their location were not as as lucky as I to start a brand new project as they were going onto sites that had already begun.
If I was to speak on my experience it was really well run in Chitwan, Sanjiv my host brother, was at the site every morning to ensure we understood what was needed, he helped massively with the translation from the workers. From what I heard from construction volunteers in other locations it wasn’t as well ran as it was in Chitwan, I suppose that’s just luck of the draw at the end of the day. I wish IVHQ would regularly visit each program they have to ensure that everyone is on track and getting the most out of it like I felt I did.
Our aim was to build a wall on a section of land they have which will host two gates, one to a section that leads up to a small Hindu temple where they can worship their God. The second section is going to be a small area where they are able to meditate and practice yoga. The hours were from 7-2, however this did differ depending on the weather as sometimes it was too hot to work during middle of the day so we would come back later on in the day when it was cooler.
We were also asked to work 6 days a week where some others it was only 5, again it was all dependant on your location and set up. If you only wanted to work 5 though you could, they were really flexible. My construction project was amazing. Couldn’t recommend going to Chitwan enough!
I have a video of the project which can be found via the blog post link at the bottom of this review.
Childcare Project in Pokhara (I recommend a minimum of 3 weeks)
For my second project, I was placed right in the centre of Pokhara where it is all very westernised and touristy thus my experience here was a completely different one to Chitwan.
I stayed in a beautiful home for my second project which did feel more like a hostel than a home-stay. This isn’t a negative at all, I’m just saying that I didn’t feel the love I felt from Chitwan. Having said that they were extremely helpful with anything we needed and ensured we were good and had all we needed as much as they possibly could, but as I said it felt more like a service they were offering rather than welcoming us as family members into their home. In addition to this the Dharma (host father) was fantastic, helping you get local rates for anything you was interested in whether that was a gym, cycling, massages, food anything you can think of he knew someone who could help.
I am glad I got to experience Chitwan first as this for me was a true taste of Nepal where living right in the centre, by Lakeside, is not. The childcare project itself was great though. I worked with children aged from 5-17 who were forced into child labour and cannot afford to go to school, additionally i am told they are without parents as well thus this program is a way of giving them a little education.
The hours are from 10-2 every day except Saturdays. A typical day consisted of playing with the kids for an hour or so followed by us teaching them either basic English, Maths or Geography, we even threw in a couple of music lessons which they loved. The childcare program was hard as the abilities of the children was different which was expected due to the considerable age gap.
For anyone wanting to work with children but not be placed in front of a class of 30 this is a great program as it feels more like babysitting with best efforts to teach them what you can. I really did fall in love with the children despite how mentally challenging it was. All I will say is after having work with children I now respect teachers a WHOLE lot more!
What IVHQ Offer
When you apply to volunteer in Nepal with IVHQ you pay a fee which includes:
- Program Fee
- Travel insurance
- Criminal background check
You will need extra money for any additional trips such as safari, everest, rafting, paragliding, spending money etc. Please note this varies MASSIVELY. In Chitwan I spent barely anything as there was nothing to spend money on. In Pokhara where it is the tourist hub where there are coffee shops, restaurants, merchandise, boat hire, bike hire etc.
If you want to really be a part of the Nepali culture ask to be placed in a remote location in a rural homestay. If you wish to volunteer but have your home comforts as to be placed in Pokhara, close to lakeside, in a more modern homestay. IVHQ have both types available. Fees. I spent a whole lot more, Nepal is cheap though having said that) Last thing to note, if you get travel sick then Nepal may not be the place for you the roads are not the safest and a 5-hour journey can take 12. This has nothing to do with IVHQ so do your research before deciding to go with Nepal as your choice of destination.
Do I Recommend Going to Volunteer in Nepal?
If it is your first-time volunteering abroad then I highly recommend going to volunteer in Nepal. I felt lucky with both my programs and really did feel like I made a difference.
By Liam Welch