One day, 6 girls and 500 pictures – An alternative way of volunteering

Staying in a small hotel in Pokara, Nepal we made friends with the young girls who lived there. Four girls aged between 4 and 16 danced with us, took our photos, laughed with us, told us off for our messy bedrooms and slightly more sadly checked us into our room, cleaned the rooms and washed our clothes. Even the 4 year old helped out cleaning the hotel and cooking the family meals.

Me and the girls half way up to the Peace Pagoda

The girls woke us up each morning with new pictures they had drawn for us, asking if they could again borrow our camera to take a LOT of pictures of each other, the hotel, flowers, views of the lake … anything and everything.

Hanging out on the hotel roof terrace with the girls

They were all orphans, adopted by the family who owned the hotel, you wonder if they were adopted to help with running the hotel as they were definitely earning their keep, but in reality their life is probably much better in the hotel than an orphanage.

Rhadika taking a turn at rowing

On our last day we asked to take them out for the day and together got a boat across the lake and walked up in the midday heat to a Peace Pagoda.

trekking to the Peace Pagoda

The girls living so close had never been up to the top of the hill and had a brilliant time giggling and running up the hill in 30+ deg heat! We certainly had a brilliant day and it wouldn’t have even been half as enjoyable if we had spent the day without the girls.

Rhadika and Shukmaya

Everyone has done some form of volunteering in their life, even if they don’t realise it was volunteering, helping out your neighbour, your friend or a random old man in the street.

Definition of Volunteering 

‘an activity that involves spending time, unpaid, doing  something that aims to benefit the environment or individuals or groups other than (or in addition to) close relatives’ from the Compact Code of Good Practice in Volunteering, 2005.

I hope this story goes some way to showing you that there is always some sort of volunteering you can get involved in, even if it isn’t with a formal organisation. Here are a few more ideas of small volunteering days/hours you could try out;

  • When trekking take a spare plastic bag and pick up litter on the way
  • Take the time to chat with some local kids, elderly people or the owners of your lodge, see if you can help them learn English and you could learn some of their native language
  • Donate unwanted clothes to a local orphanage or monastery
  • If you have any particular skills, artist, dancer, theatre performer etc see if you can teach a class at a local women’s group, orphanage or school

And here are a few more of my favourite photos taken by the girls.

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