Jack Goudie - High School Specials, Care & Community in Nepal
Namaste everyone! It is very easy for me to say that volunteering in Nepal with Projects Abroad was the best thing I have done in my life so far. It has changed my life for the best and has had a serious impact on my outlook of the world. It has broadened my horizons, and helped me figure myself out as a person.
Prior to going to Nepal it was fair to say that I didn’t have a clue what I was getting myself into. I knew two things, I wanted to go on vacation, and I wanted to do some good. Up until the week before I began my project, I couldn’t have even told you where Nepal was; all I knew was that it was where the Himalayas were, and it was humid. I initially wanted to go to Africa, but I found this project was more affordable for the same kind of work being done.
Arriving in Nepal
Thanks to Projects Abroad, it was possible to find the contact details of other people volunteering in Nepal at the same time as me, who were also on my flight. This enabled me to get in contact with them before the flight so we could meet up at the airport. This removed the awkward situation which most teenagers face when they want to go on a trip like this as we could get to know each other before the flight and we all sat and talked on the plane to Nepal.
When we arrived at Kathmandu airport we immediately felt a difference. Unlike Heathrow, there was only one building, and it was basically empty. It was really hot and I was really tired. If it wasn’t for the excitement of all the new sights I would have surely fallen asleep on the journey to our hotel.
My Placement and Accommodation
Whilst on the placement we were based in Kathmandu, all the High School Special volunteers stayed together in a hotel. The accommodation provided was on the whole good. I had a bedroom and bathroom which was shared with a friend. In the bedroom there were 2 beds, a wardrobe, a bedside table, and another table with a TV on it. The bathroom was a wet room which contained a sink, toilet and shower. One thing I must warn you about Nepal is that the water in faucets is not drinkable, so Projects Abroad supply all the water you need which will be used for drinking and brushing teeth.
The hotel was full of helpful staff and offered a good selection of food. It had facilities such as computers for us to keep in contact with our family and friends, and it also had a chill-out area on the roof, which we all found great for spending time on and relaxing. We spent many hours at night talking and playing cards on the roof, whilst we could hear the night life of Nepal (mostly very bad karaoke singing).
My placement was at a local primary school. We had an opening ceremony with the children where we were given a Tilaka and they welcomed us. For the following two weeks we spent our time painting and improving the middle tier classrooms of the school. We also repainted all classrooms, walls, railings and roofs of 2 of the 3 tiers. In between this, we spent time playing with the children and learning about their culture and lives. This was a real eye opening experience for all of us, and the view from the school was magnificent. We also received an ending ceremony where the children thanked us and we got to say our goodbyes.
During our placement we also managed to help out at a local rice planting field with all the female workers. After a long day of rice planting, they showed us their appreciation by starting a mud fight for all our hard work!
At the weekend we visited Chitwan National Park. This was truly amazing. We traveled through the mountains for the whole of Friday to get to Chitwan, I thought the journey would have been boring; however I just couldn’t get over the beautiful views. It seemed round every corner there was something great to see on the journey.
Once in Chitwan we went on a jungle walk, where we saw wild elephants and rhinos. We canoed down a river, where there were crocodiles.
We also visited many places during our placement. We visited the iconic monkey temple, Swayambhunath, and Bouda Stupa. These places gave us great insight into Nepali culture, and it has personally given me a lot of understanding and respect for their religion.
We also spent time at a local orphanage. Here we had time to interact and play with the children; we also viewed the basketball court which previous Project Abroad volunteers had created at the boys’ orphanage. It is fair to say that all the kids were incredibly cute, and so welcoming. This is one of the reasons I cannot wait to go back.
It’s now nearly 3 months since I visited Nepal and I can say that I still miss the country. Even though we had many power cuts, and the constant sound of car horns, the Nepalese people are the most welcoming and friendly that I have ever met. The country is beautiful, and it is a wonderful, fulfilling experience for anyone who wishes to volunteer and I can guarantee that you would not regret visiting Nepal.