Volunteer stories : Disaster Relief in Nepal – Fleurine Tideman
Going to Nepal was one of the scariest experiences of my life. I had been extremely excited when planning it, getting the necessary vaccinations and kit. But as soon as I boarded that plane to Kathmandu I was filled with terror. But I am so thankful that I overcame that fear and went, as this trip turned out to be one of the best of my life. This trip pushed me far out of my comfort zone and gave me the best experiences that will stay with me.
Disaster Relief project
In Nepal I took part in the Disaster Relief project, which aimed to repair the intense damage done by the 2015 earthquake. The earthquake was followed by numerous aftershocks and its effects were devastating. I was working at the Sunrise Boarding School, which had been heavily damaged by the earthquake. I was assigned numerous tasks in my four weeks there, such as digging, laying bricks, passing buckets and bricks. The work was tough, but the fun and relaxed atmosphere on site made it so enjoyable.
Within an hour of my first day I felt instantly welcome, as my fellow volunteers were quick to introduce themselves. It was interesting how instead of asking age, people would only ask your name and where you’re from. But of course, social time was mainly kept for after 3pm, site time was for making a difference and it was wonderful to see this difference, to leave after four weeks and know that you’ve left a mark. The children at the school were wonderful, eager to practise their English with us and even teach us a few Nepalese words.
Staying at a host family
I am so glad we stayed with a host family as this allowed us to be truly immersed in the culture and to experience Nepal the way tourists never could. The meals they provided us were delicious and filling, always different every night! They managed to give us true Nepalese food whilst making it suitable for our Western taste buds. The rooms were spacious and clean, giving us a nice space to relax after a hard day. But most evenings we all sat in the living room, playing card games and getting to know each other.
I met people that I will not forget and that I am already arranging to see again! It was different than people you meet in your daily life as these people are so similar to you; they are all there for the same purpose, the same wish to make a difference. Their age, experience and background does not matter, in these kinds of trips all that matters is who you are right then.
Although many feared for the danger of the country, given the recent aftershocks, Projects Abroad always kept in close contact and made me feel safe. We were given the coordinators personal numbers and told we could call if we ever had any issues. We were given a lot of guidance on a range of topics, from as simple as the address to tell a taxi driver to what to do in case of another earthquake. It really helped to put me at ease and insure I felt safe.
Weekends in Nepal
The weekends were great. We had no work and had the opportunity to go on trips to Chitwan and Pokara. I was lucky enough to go on both and got to experience both these amazing places. The wildlife in Chitwan was incredible, once you got over the intense heat! We got to canoe with crocodiles and take a jungle trek. It showed us the quieter side of Nepal, and getting to see such untouched beauty was a rare treat.
Pokara was equally great, but for different reasons. Its intense views were breath-taking and we were provided with the opportunity to paraglide or bungee jump. If you are to go Nepal, I strongly recommend partaking in these trips! The bus rides may be long, but it gives you a chance to relax and recover, whilst also bonding with your fellow volunteers. There are numerous temples and markets full of Nepalese culture and new sights.
Four weeks in Nepal may sound like a lot, but it was nowhere near long enough for me to enjoy that amazing country and all it has to offer. I initially went intending to only stay three, but was lucky enough to be able to extend my trip by a week to enjoy it even more. The time flew by, but the countless memories made there will stay with me. What will also stay are the schools being built, as they will provide shelter and a place of learning to the children of Kathmandu for many years to come. Projects Abroad gave me the chance to give back to those in need, whilst also having the trip of my life.
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