From January – April 2018 I was placed in Nepal as an Active Global Citizen volunteer with Raleigh International. Before leaving the village I interviewed Masum, my fellow team leader, to get his thoughts on the placement.
Masum arrived at the training centre feeling like the new boy in class as it was a day later than everyone else. He may also have been feeling a little nervous as he applied for a volunteer role but was placed as a team leader. His teacher was the one to encourage him to apply and Masum felt like it was time he stepped out of his comfort zone, saying “I haven’t left my home for more than 2 weeks at a time”.
During the training most of us thought Masum was the quiet type, but I soon saw him in his element as we entered community and started running sessions with young children at the school. Even when things weren’t going to plan there was never an awkward moment as Masum quickly had the children organised, singing and playing games.
Helping street children
His ease with kids is probably a result of the work Masum was doing before the placement. He and his close friend Bishal spent every Saturday giving tea and donuts to the street children in Chitwan. For three years they’ve been using their pocket money and collecting from friends and family to help fund the project. Masum is now keen to work for an official charity to gain experience working in a group and for an organisation.
His experience will be further supported with his Bachelors in business administration, which Masum is currently studying. Whilst he hopes to continue his work in the charity sector he says that he does face some challenges:
“In our culture we’re not really encouraged to work outside of our comfort zone and home environment. Volunteering isn’t really understood and I’d like this to change because I’ve got so much out of it”.
Living the rural life
Masum was placed in Archale, the most rural of the selected villages in Gorkha. The rural life and being cut off from all civilisation, without a single shop, has been very different to his comfortable home in Chitwan. It was a surprise to not have electricity for a few days due to the storm, but being without a mobile phone for that time was a good experience for Masum as he didn’t have the news and only village life to think about.
Using less of the things he doesn’t need is just one of the changes in his life. Rural life has made him appreciate everything that’s done for him back home and he’s even promised to help his mum with the washing now that he knows how to do his own clothes. He says that:
“People take everything for granted, such as water, electricity and education. At home I have a school on my doorstep but here the children have to walk up to 2 hours or go into Kathmandu.
I’d definitely recommend this programme to everyone. Normally Nepalese people won’t get a chance to work with other cultures or live in a rural area for this long, it’s a chance to see the real Nepal.”
As he looks back on his time here Masum feels surprised at his own ability to run a full project with a large team and a whole community. His favourite moments have been with the team and the achievements we’ve made together.
Visit raleighinternational.org for more information about current sustainable development projects.
Visit www.vlunteerics.org to apply to be a volunteer.
Learn more about Nepal
Nepal was one of the friendliest and most compassionate places I’ve visited. You’ll meet brave, peaceful and caring people, experience many different climates and see views that take your breath away.
Visit www.welcomenepal.com to learn more about Patan and other places to visit in Nepal.
Visit www.lonelyplanet.com for great stories advice and photography from fellow travellers.