VSSN has got more than 100 positive reviews from our volunteers around the world.
I was working as an English teacher at one of the monasteries in a town called Bhaktapur not far from Kathmandu. My day consisted of getting up at a civilised hour, around 9.00am and eating breakfast at a leisurely pace before going to an Internet cafe to send and receive emails. I then spent time looking around that amazing town. It is full of temples and other interesting buildings/architecture. The people are also worth a very big mention. They are warm and friendly and always want to help. Because tourists tend to stick to the main thoroughfares, you will find you will be stared at if you venture into the back streets and out-of-the-way places. The whole experience in this town and beyond is really amazing and I found every day a new and fascinating experience. The teaching was to novice monks in the monastery, and this started in the afternoon. In the early evening I taught to local small businessmen and women who were very keen to learn about all things western, apart from English. After some time I felt like a minor celebrity in the town because so many people knew who I was and greeted me as I walked by. All in all, I rate the experience with a gold star and will go back myself in the near future.
As a medical student from Holland, used to big white well-arranged hospitals I wanted to do something else and decided to do my gynecology internship in Nepal. VSSN proved to be a good mediator and helped me with finding the right hospital. But not only with an hospital. They were helpful with my whole feeling home in Nepal progress. It started with learning me Nepalese language. After that Nepalese food (twice a day daal bhat with my right hand) in a Nepalese family but above all they showed me Nepalese hospitality, culture and care. Supportive in making your stay in Nepal an unforgettable experience, giving a listening ear if you need it, and change the program the way it fits you the best.
John and I volunteered with VSSN for 2 months, and we have had a fascinating and rewarding experience. We helped to finish a wall-construction project at Chapagaon health centre, and taught at a local government secondary school. We stayed with Ram Krishna, the manager of the primary health-care centre, and were able to see the great benefits that the centre brings to the community. We were really impressed by Ram's commitment to the local people, and his ambitions to keep developing health-care in the area. We also enjoyed our stay with his family, who made us feel completely at home. After this, we stayed with another lovely family in Bhaktapur, and taught English at a local private secondary school. It was very interesting to have experience of both types of schools. Although the Shree Udaya Kharka school in Chapagoan faces lots of challenges: limited funds, problems with children's attendance; we thought that the standard of education was good, and the children's enthusiasm made the teaching enjoyable. We had a similarly good experience teaching at the Little World School in Bhaktapur, and were made to feel very welcome by the teachers at both schools. All in all, we are very pleased that we chose to volunteer through VSSN. The language lessons taught by the lovely Pramila were very useful, and it was good to have some guidance regarding cultural differences. Matrika and Badri have been great hosts, and we have always felt very supported by them, and impressed by the development work that VSSN is doing.
Our volunteering experience had three main phases; a construction project plastering a wall, teaching in a government school, and teaching in a private school. I enjoyed the variety of experiences, as well as the chance to see different areas of Nepal from city to village. VSSN provided an excellent introduction to Nepal with cultural and linguistic lessons, which really were superb. I have never enjoyed formal language lessons so much! The support continued throughout our time in Nepal, so we never felt isolated. We stayed with two families, who were hospitable and had fantastic cooking skills. I am a convert to Dahl Bhaat, and plan to export this to England! I was fairly apprehensive about teaching as I had no formal teaching experience. In practice however, I hardly had any problems, and really enjoyed the experience. The children were much more cooperative than I had expected and, I hope, enjoyed the experience as well! If I get the opportunity again, I would love to come back!
Hi Matrika, eventually I made it back "home"; the trip was a bit longer than expected but i killed the time practising a bit of sanskrit ;-) and guess what? they didn't find my name on my last flight but luckily I managed to solve the problem right away and it is somehow strange to be back to my Chinese life. In the next few days I'd like to write down all the thoughts, feelings and impressions that this extraordinary experience raised. I will also send you the pargraph you mentioned.
Meanwhile, thanks again for your great support in making all of this possible and best wishes to you, your family and VSSN from Shanghai.
Hello Ram and Matrika!, Namaste!
I have made it safely and sleeplessly back to new york and while it's quite the adjustment, it's good to be home. Although, i'm completely homesick for Nepal, hearing the language, speaking Nepali - just the smells in the air, i miss!
I want to thank you both for all your guidance, humor, insight and all the help you both gave in getting me around the country. It was a remarkable experience and i'll be in touch w. you both with further things (volunteer paragraph, the medical package for the clinic. . . Of course, no promises Ram, but you'll get it! )
I hope you're both well and i'll keep in touch. Cheers and take care,
Email from Emma's father:
Hello Matrika, Thank you for taking care of Emma. Her placement at the monastery was a great fit for her. She fell in love with the boys and the joy and compassion that she experienced during her time in Nepal has affected her profoundly. She is determined to return to your country. I hope to be able to join her if she does. Please feel free to have concerned parents of prospective volunteers contact me if you think it will help. Emma and I both feel like she was in good hands with VSSN and we both agree that this was a positive life changing experience for her. Thanks again for giving her this opportunity. Cordially,
My friend Natalie and I spent a month at the Primary health care clinic in Chapagoun a suburb of Kathmandhu. From our very arrival the staff at VSSN were there to help us to get settled, answer our questions and ensure our transition to Nepal went smoothly. Natalie and I had worked as nurses in Canada for one year (in Cardiology and Neurosurgery respectively) but we had much to learn about primary health care nursing in a Nepali community. The staff at the clinic soon involved us in the pre-natal checkups, immunization clinics, outpatient department and deliveries. Our days were also spent outside the clinic, as we assisted at the outreach posts and visited schools that were implementing sanitation and health education programs. As we had an interest in the Nepali health care system we were shown around area hospitals and even taken on the staff fact-finding trip that visited health care centers throughout the Chitwan region. The language barrier was overcome by the infinite patience of the Nepali people as we used our newly-learned phrases backed up by the ever so useful pantomime! Besides that, many of the clinic staff and our host family were fluent in English which allowed us to ask endless questions about Nepali culture, religion, healthcare, etc. Overall everyone from the clinic, from VSSN and from our host family went above and beyond to ensure we had an interesting volunteership and a great experience in Nepal. I will forever remember the early morning chiya before our walks (getting in shape for trekking), trying to eat dhal bhat Nepali style much to the amusement of the family’s children (as we gave ourselves rice and lentil facials) and the hundreds of kindnesses that we encountered every day by Nepali people that will stay in our hearts and minds forever.
I actually was looking to do a construction project at first but since there weren't enough people I decided to teach instead. I never taught a class before and I thought it would be very difficult. Especially because I don't like handing out discipline and my spelling is horrible (I had to pull out my Nepali-English book and pretend like I was looking for the Nepali translation of the 12 months when I was actually checking the spelling). During my stay I taught English, Math and a bit of Science and basic Psychology. I also learned how to trick students into working. I was also considering switching around schools partly because I wanted to travel around a bit but I decided it would be best to stay there for the full five months. I had no teaching materials since I wasn't planning on teaching and was not entirely confident on the rules of English Grammar so I bought some books.
Getting concepts across was a bit hard however the other teachers were always supportive and sometimes translated for me. The hardest part was that the children always wanted to play and its so easy to give in. It got even harder when they found out that I am only 19 and the older students I am teaching were around 15-16. They were very respectful in the way a teacher is respected until the point where they asked about my age. On the other hand since I was around their age they always asked me to play with them during the breaks and so usually when I was free I would play football (soccer), volleyball (which was flat, but we pulled it back into a sphere every few hits) or even have a wrestling match. At one point one of the students said "You're not teacher" and I thought "Dang, I failed at teaching" but then he added "You're our brother, big brother".
I was honestly moved but I made a compromise that I was both their brother and teacher. With teaching, everyday was unpredictable which was a nice change from my "School-Work-Study-Sleep" routine. What time the students would barge into your room and wake you up is also unpredictable. Along with walking to school and finding out they forgot to tell you that there's no school today. The school teachers were always supportive and friendly and after a month they also loosened up and we joked a lot. They really liked making fun of each other and even asked for criticism. Leaving was very difficult because after five months you bond without noticing. The fact that they live in a totally different world made me felt like they were so far away. None of them had an address, never mind an email address, and were too young to have cell phones. If there's a reason I would never do it again it would be because its too painful to leave. I miss everyone at Nava Jyoti and my host family. I will never forget them. Thanks Matrika, I won't forget you too and hopefully you will see my application again in a few years.
Hi all! I’m very happy to give you my feedback on my time in Nepal.
The first days in Kathmandu were great. The routine of Nepali classes in the morning and sight seeing in the afternoon helped me a lot to settle down and to feel at ease. Then I was sent to this amazing and beautiful area in the south of the Kathmandu valley where I stayed for 4 months. The family made me feel at home immediately. The food they served was very good and healthy. They made sure I missed nothing. The house in itself had a TV, a bathroom etc…
I volunteered as an assistant in a public school where most of the kids are from deprived households. I helped the teachers with English, Maths and other activities…
Teaching English was a bit challenging (be prepared to have loads of ideas for games, like for example the hangman). I preferred the lessons when I was only assisting the teacher, showing him or her learning methods and the different ways how I learned English myself…
The kids were little monsters at times, but that’s what made me love them even more. They are so lively and have hearts of gold.
Then I and other volunteers bought sport equipments. We played volley ball and badminton with the children. The real fun started at that very moment! I also enjoyed taking part in the numerous religious festivals. I learnt a lot on religions, Asian History and cultures, and was really impressed by the Nepali way of life. The most difficult moment of my volunteering experience was actually to come back to Europe. Both worlds are so different. I felt lost. But now that I’m settled back, I feel really proud to have done it. I gained both confidence and many good memories. I benefited so much from this trip! I hope the kids enjoyed their time with me as much as I enjoyed it with them.
My wish is that more people can discover how incredible volunteering can be or just simply discover Nepal in a real Nepali environment.
Feel free to check the blog I created; it’s kind of a diary where I uploaded photos:
Don’t be scared, go for it!