I wasn’t quite sure how finding volunteering opportunities around the world was going to work, I have a few potential contacts when in India and in a couple of South East Asian countries but nothing in Nepal, in fact I didn’t even know if I had time to volunteer whilst in Nepal. However whilst trekking I happened to mention to a guide I was chatting to over a Raskhi (don’t ask) that I was planning on volunteering. ‘oh my brother runs an orphanage 3 hours outside Kathmandu, you can volunteer there, here let me ring him now and you can arrange’.
There I was chatting to someone on the phone with potential arrangements to be picked up from Kathmandu once I returned and taken to help out in an orphanage near the Tibetan boarder for a week before I headed on to India. We exchanged emails and numbers and I said I would be in touch once I escaped from the mountains and landed back in Kathmandu.
Well that’s when they all started flooding in, I mentioned to my guide about my find and his response ‘why didn’t you ask me? I have lots of volunteering, what do you want to do?’ and then listed off several more opportunities.
The next day I mentioned to someone else and it turned out they ran a charity that supported an orphanage in Kathmandu I could help out with. Too many possibilities…
I stopped asking and decided to make my decision on where I should spend my time before any more offers rolled in. I could very easily spend my whole year just volunteering around Nepal, but with only a week to spare I had to pick one. I opted for volunteering at a local school in Kathmandu, where I would be teaching English and was invited to live with my guide’s family.
Here are a few things I have learnt from finding volunteering opportunities in Nepal.
- There are LOADS of opportunities available, some more worthwhile to them and you than others so pick wisely.
- ASK – pretty much everyone in Nepal will know somewhere you can help out, be it a local school, orphanage, hospital or community group. If you have a clearer idea of what you want to do, ie; teach English then they will be more specific in options.
- BARTER – It may seem wrong to barter about volunteering opportunities, but if you are travelling on a budget you want to try and volunteer as cheaply as possible. The first option I was given outside of Kathmandu included somewhere to stay and so when talking to my guide he was going to charge me until I said I had already been offered something else for free and so I stayed with his family for free.NB: Obviously don’t overstay your welcome and pay your way in some way, be it presents for their family, helping with shopping/cooking/cleaning etc. or teaching the family new things about your country or language.
- Ask other travellers about opportunities. Most of the people I have met have been volunteering for a couple of months somewhere, mainly through international organisations, now they have the local contacts and experiences they can probably help you volunteer directly without paying the international organisation.
- Some could describe volunteering is as much a privilege as travelling that many people from developing countries will never have the opportunity to pursue. Remember this and always be respectful of their ways and cultures, not being too pushy with your ideas and making sure you are helping and not hindering with what you are doing.
If you are interested in volunteering in Nepal drop me an email with your experiences and what you would like to do and I can see if I can help put you in touch with relevant people.