Flying by the seat of our Pants
After finding the VSN website and comparing our options, VSN was the clear choice for us: low fees that stay in Nepal and supportive of our young family participating together in a project that would help other families as well as our own. We decided on an itinerary that would give us the maximum stay in Nepal (150 days) to immerse ourselves in the Nepalese culture and allow us to visit other Eastern Asian countries. Our trip will return us to Australia 8 months after our leave. We purchased only our airline tickets to and from Australia, deciding to leave everything else to be done while we were in Nepal. This turned out fortuitous, as everything was achieved easily here and with less expense. All the information that we needed was on the VSN website, giving us excellent advice. Within two weeks of the decision to go, we were on a plane heading for Nepal. From our first enquiry, the VSN staff welcomed us and ensured us they would take care of us, and they did.
We were reluctant to stay with one family for five months, fearing becoming a burden or overstaying our welcome. Under VSN’s advice we agreed to a week’s home-stay while we acclimatised ourselves to our new environment and underwent an induction process that was slightly longer, as our stay was longer than usual. We were picked up at the airport, welcomed, and settled into a home with plenty of room for us, amicable amenities, wi-fi, other children for our kids to play with and delicious meals served with great hospitality. I am so glad now that we had that opportunity and we enjoyed our home-stay very much. In that week we participated in Nepali language classes each morning and guided sightseeing each afternoon. After a week we moved to our own flat, conveniently located and if anything, larger than we needed. A helper was arranged to come to our house each day and help with cleaning and laundry and to prepare traditional Nepalese food. We were able to visit VSN’s many charitable interests and projects and discuss our interest for participation.
Our Family’s Makeover
After discussion, we were placed in a volunteer position at a local school, looking after the library. This way we were able to have the children with us all day and leave early enough for the children’s afternoon nap. Our children were welcomed into the regular classes for local children, but not pressured to attend. So some days they went to their own classes and others they spent their time with us in the library. This flexibility afforded our family much peace and no pressure in what was to be our best family holiday. Change washed over us and the way we lived in Australia began to seem foreign to us now. The pressure and stress that had become an accepted part of our life melted away and we began to think of strategies to keep them from returning. We found it easy in Kathmandu to wake early, exercise, eat and clean up all before going to the school. We lost weight from the reduction of stress hormones. My wife and I appreciated the extra time we had with not only each other, but also with the kids. Looking back, I can’t believe we were leading a life that gave us only an hour, sometimes two as a family each day; now I cannot imagine taking such a small part in my family’s days. Our kids, now surrounded by other kids from sunrise to sunset, are experiencing something that was out of their reach in our suburban life, playing in the street. They play football, cricket, chase, hide and seek and more; our kids have learned to ride both a bike and an elephant here. It has been our great pleasure to watch them grow ourselves and not rely on stories from the childcare workers on their development. The lessons extrapolated from the many temples we have visited and friends we have made have shown us that we create our lives and have the power to reform them.
The amazing support we enjoyed on our Trip
volunteering-with-family-in-nepal. We were advised by government representatives, doctors, travel agents, and peers; but by far our best advice came from Volunteer Society Nepal. The support we have enjoyed from VSN has been extraordinary. They have helped and understood our family’s needs so well, it is to our wonder. Everyone has been gracious and hospitable; it is as if we were visiting family abroad. Help was always there, no matter the problem, and we never felt alone in another country. There were so many occasions of unsolicited help, offers to take a sick child to hospital, locating a bakery for a birthday cake, finding us a ride to the airport when there was a transportation strike, etc. We would like to thank them all very much for all their help.
Advice to anyone thinking about Volunteering
Relax, be still and listen to your heart. It only takes one decision to forge a new present that may lead to a surprisingly different future. Whether it is a visit of a week or a year, it is an opportunity to learn, to grow, to contemplate and plan. For us, Volunteering in Nepal with Volunteer Society Nepal has been the best decision we have made thus far.