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My Time in Nepal

I had an amazing time volunteering for Hands for Help Nepal. My volunteer experience left a deep impression on me, and it has changed the way I feel about my life and human culture as a whole. I found Hands for Help Nepal in a book, Alternatives to the Peace Corps, and I feel very lucky for having found it. I couldn’t have been happier with the way my time in Nepal turned out.

I spent the month of March 2013 in Nepal, and lived in Baluwatar, Kathmandu, with Badri’s family. It was a great month from start to finish that I could probably write a small nonfiction book about. The experience was like boot camp for my soul. I immediately connected to the people and found Nepali life to be fascinating, stimulating, and grounding. I loved every second of my days and I arrived home changed, and seized with an irrational vigor and zest for life that still has not quite faded.

I was incredibly blessed to stay with Badri’s family. He and his wife maintain a traditional and lovely home in beautiful Baluwatar. I stayed on the second level with two other volunteers from Germany. All together, including Badri’s daughter, we made six, so our days were lively. I spent a lot of time with Badri’s wife and daughter and felt very much at home. Badri has a great family and they all speak very good English so we were constantly chatting and I was involved with daily life just as any member of the family would be. One of my favorite things we did was go out to buy a freshly killed chicken and some vegetables that after many hours we made into momos.

For my volunteer work I helped in a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in the city, and at Kanti Children’s Hospital. I loved my time spent in both locations. At the monastery I taught English to monks ages 5-13 and they were incredibly bright and interested in what I taught. Volunteering there was pretty straightforward because they had lesson plans for a lot of the classes. The monks were great at asking questions though so what started as a simple lesson would always get very complex and I ended up spending a lot of time explaining grammar and decoding stories. In one class we had a sophisticated discussion on medical ethics during World War I. I loved the monastery but didnt stay there long because I felt slightly out of place there as a woman and I wanted to respect their all-male custom. However I feel so appreciative of my time there. I had something to chat about with everyone there, even the lama, with whom I had a memorable discussion about eastern and western cultures.

I am a Nursing student, and at Kanti hospital I was allowed to help in the Burn Unit and the Physiotherapy Unit. I met so many wonderful parents and adorable kids in the hospital and it was another good experience. In the Burn Unit I saw a lot of brave little kids with bad burns who had to stay there for weeks. Most of the time their parents stayed there in the bed with them which was really nice. The other student nurses there were also great about including me in their rounds. In the Physiotherapy Unit I worked with the presiding physician and patients, mostly children with developmental delay. They were all incredibly cute and I was included in discussions about their care and in helping with some difficult cases which was a great privilege for me. I spent most of my time in the Physiotherapy Unit and took pages of notes on everything I learned.

Between my volunteer days, Badri’s family, and time exploring the city, I had long, full days. I was mostly busy with volunteer work but got plenty of time on my own as well. I loved Kathmandu. It is a giant melting pot of people from all walks of life and in all kinds of situations with beautiful mornings, peaceful afternoons, and a good nightlife. Everyone asked me when I was getting out of the city and going to Pokhara and it became a running joke for me that I was never going to Pokhara. Despite Kathmandu’s overcrowding and smog, I never wanted to leave. I explored, bought traditional clothes, got a tattoo and a piercing, and wound up lost in early monsoon rain. There were plenty of people to meet and things to see and there still are.

I will never regret my month volunteering with Hands for Help. It was affordable and gratifying, and I would go back and do it again, especially with an interested friend or family member. My time was filled with rich experiences that have become surprisingly vivid memories I hope never leave me.”