Thursday, September 12, 2013

Chloe account of volunteering in Nepal

 I have just come to the end of an absolutely amazing 2 weeks volunteering in Nepal and wish I could have stayed for longer. It was no doubt the highlight of my month in Nepal.

We spent the mornings teaching at Annapurna Primary School, a small government school in Pokhara. This was really challenging, particularly with the language barrier and the variety of ages and abilities in the same classes. But the children are extremely receptive and eager to learn. Although volunteering is, as it is regularly described, rewarding, the opportunity to get an insight into Nepalese life and education is something I would have never gained from simply travelling here.

Our afternoons were spent at The Street Kids Centre. I absolutely loved going there and it provided the perfect complement to our mornings teaching. Here it was much more informal, it was mainly fun and games, arts and crafts. The kids are adorable and so welcoming, warm and kind. We will always remember them.  

 I cannot think of any other organisation I would have preferred to have volunteered with. PoD are a not for profit organisation with in my opinion, the right attitude to volunteering. They provide ongoing assistance to the schools and centres they support and are aware of the disruptive nature volunteering can cause. On a personal level, the support from Chrissy in Pokhara made my time here so easy and enjoyable. She was a constant source of local knowledge and help and even introduced and included us in her day to day life in Pokhara. We joined her on several Zumba classes which was so much fun.

All PoD volunteers stay with Bindu and this made our time here such a comfortable experience. Bindu and her family are incredibly kind and welcoming which made us feel totally at home. It is the perfect combination between a guesthouse and a homestay and after our trek we couldn't get back to Bindu's fast enough.

Pokhara is an amazing place to do a placement. When we weren't volunteering there was always something to do. We climbed the World Peace Pagoda, bobbed around on boats on the lake, went paragliding and enjoyed the many restaurants that Lakeside has to offer. From Pokhara we spent a weekend rafting and canyoning and at the end of our trip went trekking. It is a beautiful town and an ideal base.

I cannot recommend volunteering with PoD, in Nepal enough and I would love to come back!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Teej, Kayaks and Taps

Time is flying by in Nepal at the moment. It has stopped raining quite so much now and we are actually catching glimpses of the mountains most mornings now (it won't be long until their out all the time)

This week we celebrated Teej Festival, which is the women's festival. On the first day of Teej, women have big parties and there's plenty of singing, dancing and feasting! I spent the evening with some of my Nepali friends all dressed in their finest clothes. The second day is the fasting day and the third is a day of purity. During this time the schools were all on holidays which meant we spent the majority of our time with the children from the Street Kids Center.

On the main day of the festival we decided to take the kids out of the center and down to the park (with the main goal of wearing them out so that the house mother could have a quiet day!). We quickly set about getting a game of football started and frisbee soon followed. The kids then started playing with Buttons (my dog) near the lake when they saw a kayaker approaching, little did they know it was Maila coming to teach them some kayaking! We the spent the next few hours playing about in the water with Maila teaching them some of the basics of kayaking. The kids love doing activities like this and seeing their faces light up when they were sat in the kayak was priceless.

Whilst taking new volunteers on their induction I went to Shree Krishna Lower Secondary School and was really happy to see that they were putting new taps in. A few months ago, the old ones broke which left the whole school without water. During these hot months it is so important for the kids to drink through out the day so this is great news that the taps are up and running again.

Festival season is just around the corner (what with Dashain and Tihar coming in the next few weeks) which means we will be experiencing lots of holidays at the schools. We've got lots of plans in the pipelines ready to keep the kids busy during these periods.

If you would like to join us and the team here in Nepal, then please contact Gemma on for more information.

Monday, September 2, 2013

A rainy week in Pokhara

My 2 birthday cakes! Thanks everyone.

The weeks are flying past at the moment here at PoD Nepal. It's still technically the monsoon so we are still getting lots of rain, an incredible storm last night but it's finally starting to get a bit cooler now and we are catching glimpses of the mountains every now and then :-)

We celebrated my birthday on Monday which was a lot of fun. All the volunteers and a few of my friends went to Silk Road, our favourite bar for dinner, Janice and Laura got up and sang and I got two incredible cakes from Bindu and her family! 

We currently have 7 volunteers with us at the moment working at Shree Krishna Secondary School, Annapurna Primary School, Ward 6, Asha,Street Kids and Bahini.

At Ward 6, the biggest challenge we've been facing recently has been hygiene issues. In the past we have brought soap for the center to encourage them to wash their hands, bleach to keep the kitchen and toilets clean, we have given them individual towels to wipe their faces, as in the past there was only one towel that was used for every child, to wipe the floor, wipe bottoms and faces! We have successfully managed to get them to wash their hands after every bathroom visit  and before eating food, however the towel situation is still ongoing. We have also been encouraging them to only go to the bathroom in the toilet, (rather than wherever they are!!) Deepali and Indira have been doing a great job encouraging the kids to keep clean and educating them in why it is so important. It's a problem we have faced in the past at every placement, as the kids have not been educated about germs or why it is so important to stay clean.
Asim from Asha singing his heart out!

All the schools have been having exams over the past two weeks, so we've been doing less teaching and more revision and supporting the teachers in conducting the exams. So far it looks like all our kids are doing really well and we're excited about the results. School will be back to normal from next week.

The Street Kids have been busy revising, and are so good at doing their homework. After school they sit so quietly and work for another 1-2 hours. In that time we normally come and help them with their homework (although big BJ's math homework is more advanced than any maths I ever did at GCSE and he's only 12!). On Wednesday, we decided to give them a bit of a treat, and after the homework we got out some facepaints and pipe cleaners!! Out of the pipe cleaners, they made some funky masks to go with their facepaints! Every one was covered by the time it was time to leave!

Laura on the guitar
We had a great trip to Asha last Friday, which is where we go as a group to volunteer. As soon as we got there Mina and a couple of the other girls took Gina and Chloe off to the 'jungle' to collect grass for the cows. I don't think they quite realised how far they would be walking, but 2 leeches, 2 hours and a lot of grass later they came back with food for the cows! The rest of us spent time with the kids playing and teaching guitar, and chatting about their exams.

This weekend all the volunteers went off for a rafting and canyoning trip on the Trisuli river. During the monsoon there are only a few rivers open in Nepal because the waters are so massive. They all came back full of stories and had an excellent time. They have also had day trips to the peace pagoda, paddling out on the lake and paragliding. 
Looking forward to another week ahead and two more volunteers joining our team on Friday. If you would like to join us in Nepal and continue our work supporting these local projects, please contact Gemma on for more details. 

Don't forget we have our two week Volunteer Experience coming up on the 20th September. There's still time to join this worthwhile project.