Teaching in monastery and school
Leaving friends and family behind I boarded a plane to Nepal to meet my “new family” for the next 8 months. Moving to a developing country across the world can be a daunting experience. However, upon arriving at Volunteer World Nepal I was openly welcomed into the Volunteer World Nepal family. Volunteer World Nepal offers a unique experience to become part of the Volunteer World Nepal team as well as a Nepali family. Although I was away from people I knew back at home, I never felt alone because I was surrounded by the warm, caring, and delightful people at Volunteer World Nepal.
Before I left for Nepal many people asked why I was going to such a dangerous place. My response was a quote from The Shawshank Redemption, “Get busy living, or get busy dying!”. Going to volunteer in Nepal is what felt right in my life. It felt like it was something I needed to do in order to feel like I was living my life to the fullest. Although I was able to witness, and in a small way take part in the wonderful changes that happened politically, I never felt in danger. Instead, I highly value the experience of watching Nepal change and grow, and I look forward to the exciting upcoming developments as Nepal reinvents itself as a democratic country.
Due to my extended stay in Nepal, I was able to have an array of volunteer opportunities. At Volunteer World Nepal it is important for each volunteer to make the most and get the most out of his/her experience. Right from the beginning, it was evident that the Volunteer World Nepal staff not only supports their volunteers but also helps them to create individualized opportunities. When I came to Volunteer World Nepal I was to teach at a monastery and go to an orphanage for 1 month. Again, I was welcomed with warm smiles and hearts at the monastery. The monks and novices took me to other temples, and cultural programs, and helped me learn more about Buddhism. I was invited to join them for their prayer and meditation time each evening, as well as their alms trip to Hetauda. Because I enjoyed my time at the monastery so much, we decided to extend my time there for another 3 months. At this time I also worked at an orphanage with 40 children aged from 1 month to around 13 years old. There are so many orphans in Nepal right now due to the political situation, poor economic status of most of the community, and poor family planning. At my orphanage, I was amazed to see the older children caring for the younger ones, even if the older child was only 1 year older. With only 3 women to care for all these children, the kids desperately wanted to be loved. Even some of the older children would come and rest their heads on my shoulders or hold my hand. I learned about the current and future situation (or lack thereof) for the children and grew aware of the incredible needs these children have for love, education, and help for the future.
After taking a break in the middle of my volunteer time to go to India with my family, go on a Vipassana meditation retreat, and go trekking with one of the other volunteers (Yes, it is possible to take some time off!), I decided I wanted to try something different. Working with the deaf community has always been an interest of mine. On one of my trips with the monks, I went to visit a children’s home and monastery in Banepa. I also learned that there was a school for the deaf just next door. So, this was an obvious next choice for me as it combined 3 joys: learning about Buddhism, working with disadvantaged children, and working with the deaf community. At the Kavre Deaf School, I was greeted with beaming smiles and an eagerness to learn. The students helped me learn Nepali signs and were eager to learn some American signs. They took me to local health camps where volunteer doctors screen people with disabilities, which turned out to be a very unique experience and a chance to see more closely the health care system at work. I also learned some Buddhist chants at the Metta Center while getting to know the 12 delightful girls that live there.
Spending 8 months with Volunteer World Nepal gave me the opportunity to see many different sectors of Nepal. It was hard to leave my “new family” in Nepal. It felt as though 8 months was not long enough. Volunteer World Nepal is a wonderful group with a positive outlook on the future of Nepal. The staff, programs, and overall experience with Volunteer World Nepal all provide a chance to find your own niche and get to see the real Nepal first-hand.