Sunday, April 28, 2013

S.O.S. Bahini - A short Film

This is a short film about one of our projects here with PoD Nepal. SOS Bahini is a refuge and home to over 60 girls in Nepal. They provide a safe and loving home, education and ongoing support to many girls from a variety of different backgrounds.

Our female volunteers often get involved in Bahini by holding conversation English lessons, dance or art classes.
(You can sport Michaela, Shosh and Susie in this video!)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Volunteer Experience - April 2013

In the middle of my time in Nepal, I decided to join 4 other volunteers on the first PoD Volunteer Experience.  Over the 2 weeks we were able to visit lots of different placements and organized a wide range of activities.  We also had time to fit some sightseeing in and enjoy being in the beautiful lakeside town of Pokhara.  
Swimming in Begnas Tal

To start the week off, Chrissy took us to many famous sites.  First stop was Begnas Tul, a neighbouring village with a stunning lake.  We were able to hire boats and row across before jumping in for a refreshing swim in front of a spectacular backdrop of the Himalayas.  We then drove on to the waterfall Devi's Falls before moving on to the  Buddhist Peace Pagoda which, overlooking the City, provides fantastic views of Pokhara and the surrounding mountains. 

Our solar system!
The next day the volunteering began.  Our fist stop was Annapurna Primary School where we spent two days making paper mache planets which collated to make a homemade solar system!  In between the arts and crafts we also got the kids involved in games such as duck, duck, goose and french skipping, whilst also sharing out some yummy snacks.  On the Wednesday evening, we were then taken to Silk Road, a favourite bar and restaurant of the PoD volunteers, to learn how to make Mo Mos - a traditional Tibetan dish.  Although they didn't taste exactly how they usually do, the evening was incredibly enjoyable.

Two of the children from the Street Kids Center
On the Thursday, we took the children from the Street Kids'Rehabilitation Centre (one of PoD's projects) to a small theme park - "Cha Cha Wee".  After the very exciting bus ride, the kids enjoyed going on all the attractions.  Their favourite was undoubtedly the dodgem cars, showing some promising future drivers!  The play area was also a big success, with everyone joining in (including the volunteers!)  The next day we took them to the International Mountain Museum.  The kids became very interested by the exhibition, even taking their workbooks along to write down their favourite facts.  After the museum we had just enough time for some more snacks and a climb in the trees outside. We then returned to our accommodation to learn how to make Dal Bhat from Bindu - the owner of the hotel.  This gave us a real insight into the culture of Nepal whilst also providing us with a delicious meal - Mito cha!

Hannah and her team at Shree Krishna School
After a free weekend which many of us spent white water rafting, it was straight back into volunteering at Shree Krishna school.  As it was a secondary school, we decided to put on a sports day to kept the older kids entertained.  Along with the traditional races we also introduced some fun ones including a dress up race which left everyone in stitches!  We returned the next day to set up a treasure hunt with educational questions hidden around the school's grounds.  Although some of the questions mysteriously disappeared we were able to improvise and pull it off, providing another interesting day for the kids.

The next day we visited an Orphanage on the outskirts of Pokhara called "The Asha Foundation".  We reused the treasure hunt idea which the kids enjoyed and then played bingo with some cards we had made earlier.  We also introduced them to French Skipping and set up a table tennis game in the dining room, before giving them a bag of clothes donated by another volunteer. 

The last day of the experience was spent with the Street Kids at their home.  As some of the children were at school in the morning we played a few quiet rounds of bingo before going back in the afternoon to do some drawing and other arts and crafts.

Sadly, after another active week the experience came to a close.  However, most of the group found it so enjoyable that they decided to stay on for an extra 2 weeks!  Overall, I found the whole experience incredibly worthwhile.  The fact that we were able to work at so many placements in such a short space of time showed me the fantastic work that PoD do.  The inspirational kids that I met have made a lasting impression on me and it was so rewarding to see how much they gained from the time that we spent with them.  I would recommend the experience to anyone thinking of taking part as it gives you a real taste of the work that is being done and can continue to progress with the help of future volunteers.    

By Hannah Bottle, volunteer in Nepal for 8 weeks 2013. 

If you would like to join the next Volunteer Experience on September 20 2013, then please email Gemma in the UK head office  Click here to see more photo from the Volunteer Experience in April.

Monday, April 15, 2013

A Northener in Nepal

With Purnay, one of the Street Children from a center PoD works with

Celebrating Holi festival
After travelling for more then 24 hours without sleep, enduring flight delays, cancellations, lost luggage and having virtually no sleep, the first thing that hits you when you arrive in Kathmandu is the sheer craziness and mayhem of the place. Bikes, taxis and busses, with luggage and people piled high on there roofs and spewing out of their doors, all jostle for position on the city's dusty and dilapidated dirt-track roads. It's fair to say that even the most experienced traveller gets that "what was I thinking?" feeling when contemplating the prospect of spending three months in this crazy country. The ironic thing however is that, the one thing that unsettled me most when I arrived in Nepal, that being the total mayhem and disorganisation of the place, is now the thing I love most about this wonderful country. The hilarious willingness to close schools the week before exams because of strikes and hour long waits for drinks in bars only add to your admiration of the Nepalese people and the way they embrace life by taking things, (and indeed themselves,) a little less seriously.

Any feelings of doubt whatsoever disappear the next day when you leave Kathmandu for the calm of Pokara and within a week, thanks to Bindu and the girls along with Chrissy and Phil, you are not only settled into your new home but well on the way forging long lasting relationships that will allow you to make a real difference during your time volunteering in Nepal.

The bridge I cross every morning to get to Balam
Teaching at Shree Bhalam primary school, PoD's furthest placement from lakeside, means taking an hour long bus ride the outskirts of Pokhara and then crossing a huge suspension bridge to get to work. The bus ride is probably one of my favourite part of the day as, despite being groped, given Nepalese kids to hold and travelling with boobs in your face, it is a real chance to see how the real Nepal works and how its wonderful inhabitants interact with each other. At school I spend my time teaching English to kids across the school. When I arrived in school I was given a timetable for my classes and now plan and teach my classes completely independently; PoD placements allow us all to be as independent as we like so you feel although you are really making a difference where you are and are being appreciated by both your students and teaching colleagues alike.

There is a great network of support here in Nepal, whether this be from the PoD team or the other volunteers here; there is always someone to discuss your day with and we all enjoy sharing ideas and techniques with each other at the end of the day. The social scene in Lakeside is also amazing, along with some great nights out, the central location of Pokhara means we have been able to enjoy trips to Chitwan national park, Lumbini (Buddha's birthplace,) weekends rafting and weeks in Kathmandu. One of the highlights has definitely been watching the sunrise over the Himalaya during one of our treks!

Living at Bindu's is amazing; Bindu, Janice and Julia welcome you into their home from your first day and are always on hand with a wealth of local information and funny stories! There home is the perfect balance between hotel and home-stay; you are welcomed into their family, eat and socialise with them, however are still given the freedom to come and go as we please. Bindu is always on hand to deal with whatever Nepal can throw at you, be this water and electricity shortages to bringing you soup when you are ill.

Top of Poon Hill, a three day trek I did with a friend
In short, my time in Nepal has been awesome, having made some amazing friends and met some amazing people; it will be a shame to leave. I feel I have made long lasting relationships, not only with the other volunteers here, but also with the teachers and students I have worked with every day. I really feel I can leave Nepal having made a positive impact on the people I have worked with; this has only been made possible because of the wonderful people of PoD, (Gemma and Chrissy in particular,) their meticulous organisation, support and friendliness mean my whole trip has been hassle free from start to finish. I know its a cliché but, forget any worries you have about coming to Nepal, when you arrive throw yourself into the culture and you'll never forget it; I cant wait to return!