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.

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