It’s been two months since I came back from my trip to Nepal and this adventure is still on my mind and in my heart.
It was one of this weekends when I all of the sudden had an idea that I should volunteer. I remembered one of my favorite organisations – All Hands Volunteers, went on their web site and put an application for volunteer position in April. That was December 2015.
Couple of months later, when I completely forgot about it, I received a reply that my application got accepted and I have a spot reserved for me for these dates in April. In order to secure the spot I had 2 weeks of supplying flight tickets and travel insurance.
Needless to say I had none of the above or any annual leave available for me…
The next day I met my manager and told her about this application and the time-frame. Amazing as she is, she encouraged me to do it and take the rest of the time as unpaid leave. I got excited at this point! Everything was booked within days and now all that was left is to check what I got myself into and prepare.
Clothes, hiking boots, rain gear, vaccinations…all was sorted just in time for this adventure. I landed in Kathmandu and was lucky enough to meet 4 other gorgeous girls to venture the local bus trip to Nawakot valley. I am so happy they were there because I think I was still in shock from the place and the chaos and I needed some extra time to get used to it! We managed to get there for a quick introduction to the base camp in which they have told us about the different projects – “We have 10 sites for demolition and we are building 4 schools on remote areas. We need people on the mobile sites, will you go?”.
We were a bit exhausted already and wanted to rest for a bit, but missing today meant missing the mobile site for another week, as they only exchange on Sundays. We jumped on a 4 wheel drive and were on our couple of hours journey up the mountain.
We got to a small village, with lots of little kids running to greet us. I discovered later that the first time they have seen foreigners was couple of months ago when the site started. We felt very welcomed. We had one family cooking us lunch and another dinner. The food was yummy, simple and spicy. The community coordinator was teaching us Nepali, and we taught the kids English. The work was HARD! We were digging trenches, measuring, shoveling, collecting and breaking rocks, cutting and bending rubber, preparing and mixing concrete. When the day was over we were struggling to climb up to our camp site after dinner. Body felt so tired and weak. Back was sore, legs were sore. Squatting constantly, I could feel my knees. Showers was one small bucket, which after the first week turned out to be more than enough.
Every morning I opened my eyes at 5AM. The birds were singing and I had just enough sleep. I got up, brushed my teeth, took my Yoga mat and went to practice. In my mind I was imagining this trip to be like this. every morning and evening an hour self practice. This wasn’t what ended up happening. After the first day, my fellow volunteers wanted to join. Some of them haven’t done yoga before. From self practice I started teaching. We had a bit more than an hour practice, just in time for the sunrise and breakfast. After few days, the kids have noticed something is happening up there at the camp in the morning. They started running up the mountain to join us. Soon enough it became a kids Yoga class as they took over. It was fun. I miss that part of the day.
This whole couple of weeks made me realize many things. Simple life made people happy. They were sustainable, they had enough to live happily and being part of a community made sure everyone was supported and safer. One of the days we were there, there was a storm. I was amazed our tents didn’t fly away. In one of the mountains close by there was a fire. All the men ran to help and they told us the next day that there were no casualties. Even though they didn’t know the family living there, they had a lot of empathy for them and for the house that was burned to the ground. I have no doubt everyone will help to build it together.
Couple of weeks were just enough to see how my habitual ways are not the only ways. Taking 20 minutes shower, is not necessary. Washing my hair every day, also not necessary. I became very aware of waste. and I also became aware of the “white people” influence. There was a little shop at the village and I don’t know why, but I was there daily buying anything cold that had sugar in it. that’s what my body was craving. I haven’t had a bubbly drink in years, but in Nepal I had one every day. The volunteers collected the rubbish and we had a fire every morning to burn it. The locals, however, were less concerned about the environment. there were packets for chips, bubble gun wraps, plastic bottles everywhere on the mountain. It will be a matter of time till they will start to see the impact of this plastic. I hope Shrada, the community coordinator will continue her efforts to bring more awareness to the communities there before it’s too late.
The mobile site is a six months project. By next month the school should be almost ready. In the 2 weeks I was there we have finished the foundation, just in time to pour the concrete. I was proud to be part of it and I hope it will provide a safe place for the kids to learn. They were very enthusiastic! As for the volunteers, I am missing all of them already. Donal, the Irish man was making us laugh until tears will not stop coming down. Rita, from Portugal, had the best sense of humor and she had hard time with the heat. Sarah from Canada was just one amazing soul. So many good people from everywhere around the world volunteering time and money to help others. That gave me hope.