MEET ALL THE SMILING FACES ENCOUNTERED DURING OUR VOLUNTEERING EXPERIENCE IN NEPAL
Friday Movie for these Buddhist monks around our friend Sophia's i-Pad, Kathmandu (Nepal)
Our month spent volunteering at a local school in Kathmandu definitely enriched us way more than we could have ever imagined – every person that crossed our path in Nepal have taught us a life lesson and left a long-lasting impression in our memories.
Here are some of the amazing stories of the other volunteers who made our Nepal adventure even more special!
Not sure how to make it happen? Have a look at our article on how to make it happen!
WELCOME TO BUDDHIST LIFE!
We are so grateful to have met great people during our volunteering month in Kathmandu, especially other volunteers like us from all over the world. We got a wonderful connection with the volunteers who started their program at the same time as us and we visited most of them at their placement getting to know other aspects of Nepal.
Why, When, How, Where to travel in Nepal - Learn more from our Country Guide HERE
Let’s start with Martina and Sophia, the other very blonde volunteers who taught English respectively in a nunnery and in a monastery.
Last day of our volunteering experience - got a certificate from VIN! From the left: Christie, Sophia, Martina, me and Fabio in Kathmandu (Nepal)
Teaching English for them was probably the least difficult task in their program since the hardest aspect for them was to get used to live like their students, nuns or monks, eating, sleeping and everything else at their rhythm. They were awoken around 4.30am by the gongs and the prayers of the students and they were constantly under the radar of their young monks and nuns as there is not much privacy in a monastery or nunnery unless you lock your room’s door behind (they can always knock at your door =)).
Contrary to our belief, young monks and nuns do not choose to enter a monastery/nunnery by vocation or free choice – many of them are sent there by their families because they can not sustain them, some lost their parents at a very young age and are rescued from the streets, some were severely abused and got somehow saved by older monks and nuns.
Every kid has his/her own story and it’s difficult to get them to open up about their past – there’s both a language and a cultural barrier. Most of them only speak Tibetan language which they learn and use during “pujas”, special times of the day when they get together with older monks/nuns and they chant and recite Buddhist prayers over and over. These pujas are usually early in the morning (4.30am), mid morning (10am) and early afternoon (3pm) and prayers are recited for other people and benefactors of the monastery and nunnery.
Mum Martina with her eight nuns in the monastery where she volunteered in Kathmandu (Nepal)
Blonde Martina, originally from Check Republic and citizen of Canada and Israel, has been the mum of 8 nuns for one month – she nick-named them after fruits, veggies and two nuns got special names, “Doctor” and “Charles Dickens”, because of their passions. A big challenge for Martina was to teach English to these nuns ranging from 8 to 20 years old with very different language skills, levels and interests. She found herself teaching more about life skills than English grammar – being a nurse, Martina taught these young women first aid, how to look after one another and bought them school material and books for the most advanced learners.
Prepare yourself for a true cultural immersion in Nepal - Read our cultural tips HERE
During our visit to her small nunnery, built by a British “lama” in Kathmandu district, we took a skipping rope and some badminton gear with us for these small women who were the happiest!
Monkey, the nickname Martina gave to this little girl, skipping and having fun like no other, Kathmandu (Nepal)
Another amazing experience has been visiting blonde Sophia from Germany at her monastery on a rainy Friday afternoon. On that day, Sophia had just managed to have her students all gathered around her small iPad to watch “Justice League” – Friday was for movies. Still some students were more interested about us, visitors, and some monks took Fabio’s camera and started shooting one picture after the other of themselves – very talented photographers indeed!
Young monks after Friday class with Sophia wandering in the monastery, Kathmandu (Nepal)
Sophia’s monastery was definitely bigger than Martina’s nunnery – it hosts about 100 monks with very few adults among them who could not speak much English and still the monastery was half empty. Sophia’s guide around the monastery was a 10 year old boy who showed us the way to the monastery’s roof – quite a view above the city from there!
Fabulous view on Kathmandu from the top of Sophia's monastery, Nepal
VILLAGE LIFE WITH FIFTEEN SMALL HUMANS
Meet the dark-haired Silvia, also from Italy, one of the kindest people we met in Nepal.
Working in Florence as a shop assistant, her real dream is to become a writer and she is on the right way, having already published a great book about her volunteering experience in Tanzania (have a look here: IO: 9000 Km e Hakuna Matata).
Heading soon to Nepal? Check out our favourite spots in Kathmandu HERE
Silvia's passion for kids is contagious, here with this cutie in Kevrasthali, Kathmandu (Nepal)
No fancy hotel or seaside resorts for her only annual holiday – she put aside enough money to come volunteering for one month in Nepal and her placement was probably the farthest from Kathmandu district, among green lush hills in a very small village, where she helped a local teacher with fifteen young children in a small kindergarten. This school was appositely created to give these young kids an introduction to school and hopefully to convince local families to send their children to school on a continuous basis.
Silvia is writing a new book, taking inspiration from her volunteering experiences - Check our her blog HERE
Silvia's homestay was very basic - red clay walls and floor and a laminated roof on her head, Kathmandu (Nepal)
Welcome to Silvia’s host family home – red clay walls and floor with a laminated roof and an outside squat toilet with cold shower. During her first three days she remained without electricity and only with 3% battery charge on her mobile! The only shop in the village was selling very basic items and no food but water bottles.
Are you ready for Nepal? Check out all our health & safety trip HERE
Silvia with her class of fifteen small humans in a village outside Kathmandu (Nepal)
As mentioned, nothing fancy but still this was what she came for and she fell in love with Nepal just like that! Those small kids who were gathering around her and were smiling for an inflatable ball and some soap bubbles, who could not speak a word of English but could show her the way to the bus stop with their hand gestures, whose noses were always running – these are the real reasons why Silvia was happy. Even eating only plain rice morning and evening with few biscuits for lunch, even having to travel back and forth to Kathmandu for more than two hours on a very bumpy and muddy road, Silvia was still really happy.
If you want to read more of Silvia's experience in Nepal (in Italian =) ), check out her beautiful blog HERE
The world just needs more people volunteering and living in another reality, less fortunate than our lucky Western world – just trying to understand the world from another perspective. Everyone would have so much to learn and would realise that there are millions of ways of being “happy, “rich” and “beautiful”.
How to stay safe on the road everywhere in the world - Read more HERE
One, two, three - click! A Perfect selfie for Silvia and her small students during her volunteering in Nepal
A DOCTOR AMONG THE RICE PADDIES
Meet Sireesha, a New York-based soon-to-be doctor originally from India, who decided to do her internship in Nepal.
Here is Sireesha during the Teej Festival, drawing a wonderful Mehndi on my hand, Kathmandu (Nepal)
We visited her in Kavresthali, a northern rural neighborhood of Kathmandu, during the Teej Festival and her host family was the nicest! They took us to the local Hindu temple to take part in the celebrations.
Don't miss hiking on the Himalayas along the Annapurna Circuit
Kavrestahli is immersed in rice fields and surrounded by lush green hills. To get there from Kathmandu centre it’s a bumpy drive and the closest thing to a hospital is a health post in the village centre which is still twenty to forty minutes walk from most families.
Infinite rice paddies outside Sirresha's host family home in Kevrasthali in Kathmandu, Nepal
During her one-month internship Sireesha visited more than fifty families with the help of local volunteers who were translating in Nepali. Sireesha interviewed them about non-trasmettable illnesses to gather information on the families’ knowledge about these health issues. She got confronted by people who are living in quite harsh conditions and this made her realise that she forgot how comfortable her life got in the USA after spending all her childhood in India.
READ MORE ABOUT OUR OTHER VOLUNTEERING EXPERIENCES IN:
What should you pack for a one year trip around the world? Have a pick at our packing tips HERE
We would highly recommend VIN (Volunteer in Nepal) to everyone who would like to volunteer in Nepal –
it is 100% local and they know what they are doing.
Amazing group of volunteers and friends met at VIN in Kathmandu, Nepal
We always keep our door open for new projects and ideas – we’ve been already volunteering and travelling in Nepal, Philippines, Malaysia, Tanzania, Uganda and we are currently in South America - stay tuned for more!
As our motto says: we travel, we learn, we grow.