Volunteer Review: Liam H., Physical Therapy in Nepal
‘Where is it you’re going again?’, ‘Nepal’, ‘Wow, aren’t you afraid of going all that way on your own?’, ‘No, I will be fine’. Just one of many similar conversations I had with friends and family before setting out for the trip of a lifetime. To tell the truth, I was very nervous about traveling alone. Could I really survive on my own in a totally different country? Would I enjoy it?
It didn’t take very long at all before my nervous feeling built itself into excitement and both these questions were answered with a very firm ‘yes’. To be accurate, this transformation occurred in just 24-hours, by the end of my first day. On exiting the airport I entered the ‘land of the taxi drivers’ where there were hundreds of hands trying to guide me and carry my luggage towards various taxis. This, along with the drive to Hotel Excelsior injected some culture shock into my system. Driving in Nepal seemed like a derby to begin with, with cars everywhere as they make use of every inch of road. However, it isn’t too long before you think of the traffic as being more like a beautifully choreographed ballet of cars, mopeds, buses and bikes.My first day sparked the transformation of emotions mentioned due to the sheer volume of activities which it contained. Hotel Excelsior is in Thamel, which I soon found to be the melting pot of Projects Abroad volunteers and tourists alike and, being the weekend, the pot was full. After a short induction to the area, I was immediately met by 5 other Projects Abroad volunteers with whom I spent the day. We went to the gorgeous ‘Garden of Dreams’, Patan Durbar Square and Museum, before watching a Bollywood movie.
It wasn’t long before I arrived at my host accommodation, the absolute legend that is Lok’s house, Banepa. I truly couldn’t have asked for a better place to stay in Nepal, Lok and his family are so nice, friendly and generous - the definition of a home from home. I was able to join Lok and the other volunteers in getting up early and going to yoga most mornings. It was very fun and rewarding to participate in part of the culture, as yoga is very popular in Nepal. I was also able to meet and chat to the local yoga teacher, who was very interesting to talk to.My placement was at Scheer Memorial Hospital, which is just a few minutes walk from Lok’s house. I was mainly in an Outpatients Ward for the Physiotherapy work that I did, with some ward visits too. This meant there was a wide range of patients and injuries/problems, like in England. However, one of the differences with England is that many patients cannot afford treatment, or are unable to travel the distance to their local clinic, so therefore quite a few of the patients were local and ‘well-off’ by Nepali standards. However, I did go on some home visits which enabled my to see some patients without access to the hospital, such as teenage twins we treated for club foot.
The Physiotherapists I worked with were all great and although I hadn’t started my Physiotherapy degree at that point, they still allowed me to do hands-on work. I was able to apply heat packs, do ultrasound treatments and replicate some simple massage techniques once they were demonstrated to me. Although I enjoyed speaking to and treating the local people who came in, the best moment in Physiotherapy terms was when my supervisor, Pro Lad came in near the end of my trip to check how I was doing and I did all of his treatment with a small amount of guidance. I think he was impressed!One of my favourite things about working at Scheer was that at the end of every day, a few other volunteers and I would play basketball with the local children in the sports hall on site. They were all so enthusiastic and happy; sometimes they would even find us during the day to check that we were going to play. We got boys and girls, older and younger children playing, and were all able to have good fun. It made such a difference to my experience that I was able to interact with the locals like this.
I made good use of my free time in Nepal, and was able to visit Namo Buddha and the National Park in Chitwan, mountain bike, and do many other activities. Chitwan is a must-do as it is such an amazing place. I was able to ride one through the jungle, see rhinos and other wildlife, visit the elephant breeding sanctuary, canoe down the river in close proximity to alligators, and then go to sleep with a group of geckos sharing my roof.
My trip to Nepal was really amazing and I loved every minute of it. I am sure that I will definitely return as it is such a great place. All the people involved in my trip, from Projects Abroad, the Hotel Excelsior staff, Lok and his family, the Physiotherapy staff and others at Scheer, my guide at Chitwan, all made this trip what it was and I couldn’t be more thankful for such an awesome time. They say that Nepal stands for ‘never ending peace and love’, and throughout my trip that couldn’t have been clearer.
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.