Volunteer Review: Heather T., Care & Community in Nepal
In July 2014 I got ready to get on a plane and go to a country miles away with a group of people I didn’t know all too well. Honestly, it was the best thing I have ever done. After months of fund raising I finally got the chance to go to Nepal and participate in a Project Abroad service project. During this service project I got the chance to work with a school, a HIV/AIDS centre, a children’s malnutrition centre and an orphanage. Also I experienced a new and interesting culture which I didn’t know much about. And the great thing about doing it with Projects Abroad was that I was always in a safe environment and well taken care of.
When you first lay your eyes on Kathmandu you are instantly presented with the immense beauty of the surrounding hills and mountains. Around different peaks villages accumulate surrounded by neat lush farm land. It felt like the further into Kathmandu you travelled the smaller and smaller you become. Kathmandu appeared to be a very close knit community; houses, shops and buildings were squashed together like Lego bricks and wide range of shapes, sizes and colours made everything more interesting and unique. There was never a silent moment in Nepal, the streets were always alive with car-horn happy drivers and swarms of walkers weaving in and out of the traffic, like the cars weren’t a danger or even there at all.
Our community service project was based at Zing school. I had no idea what to expect when I got to the school. I wasn’t prepared to find that the school was tired, rundown and housed almost 270 children. More than I thought was possible for such a small school. The children at the school were truly inspirational. During one afternoon we did some activities with the children to get to know them better. First we did some dancing and singing with the children we did song such as: the Hokey Cokey ; the penguin song and get loose get funky. This made the children really light up and get excited. We then spilt the children up into their age groups to do activities such as making fish out of old plastic bottles and loom band bracelets. They worked amazingly well, the children were so engaged and enthusiastic it was refreshing being able to work with such keen students.
Our main role in the school was painting, sanding, priming and more painting. The work was harder than I first thought it would be but the end results gave so much more life to the old tired school. When you think about how beautiful, clean and colourful the schools are in the UK you never really notice the impact it actually has in your school life. Being able to take a dark, dirty class room and transform it into a clean, light colourful work space made me feel that I achieved something special. Another thing we did with the children was dental outreach where we taught the children how to brush their teeth. I was shocked to see children actually fascinated with a toothbrush. After they all learnt to brush their teeth they all got to keep the toothbrush and some toothpaste. One of the most rewarding thing about the trip was having the feeling that I was a part of improving the day to day life of the children with something as simple as a 5 minute session on how to brush their teeth. Also the children really enjoyed brushing their teeth and found it really funny as we sang the “brushing your teeth song” and made “ahhhhhh” noises as we brushed our own teeth.
After two weeks I have tried many things I never thought I would and I have achieved a huge amount. My amazing team and I painted 18 class rooms; completed 8 stunning murals; taught 270 children how to brush their teeth; spent a day playing games with children in care and travelled to a country we knew very little about and a culture that was very strange to us. I have done, experienced, felt and achieved more than I can ever possibly condense into a small article.
I came home proud, more independent, more determined, more outgoing and open minded, stronger. I came home knowing I made a difference to people’s lives.
This volunteer story may include references to working in or with orphanages. Find out more about Projects Abroad's current approach to volunteering in orphanages and our focus on community-based care for children.
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. Find out more about what you can expect from this project, or speak to one of our friendly Program Advisors.