International Volunteering with Street Child - Charlotte's Time in Nepal
Charlotte spent 5 weeks as a Communication Volunteer in one of Street Child’s projects in Kathmandu, Nepal in 2017. We interviewed her to learn more about her experience.
You decided to volunteer as a Communication Volunteer in Nepal. What were your thoughts behind that and why in Nepal?
I took off a year from university and wanted to do something different. My best friend did the same, so we started to look for volunteer opportunities together. It was actually her mum who found Street Child’s International Volunteering Programme online. I remember being super afraid that just one of us would be accepted as a volunteer and the possibility of maybe not being able to do it together. But our worries where unnecessary and soon after we both started our journey to Nepal.
So there wasn’t really one specific reason why I chose Nepal, it just seemed very interesting at the time. And regarding the position, there where two positions open to us and my friend really wanted to work as a Research Volunteer. So, I took the job as Communication Volunteer, which turned out to be great decision as I enjoy photography a lot and got the opportunity to speak to a lot of interesting people.
How did you experience the fundraising before and during your volunteering?
Street child offers fundraising aid, they help you to set up a fundraising page and provide you with different materials if you need them. Since my friend and I mostly share the same circle of friends we decided to actually not use those sites but set up our own for both of us together. We also didn’t want to just post the link to our fundraising page on social media and ask people to donate. So somehow, we came up with this weird idea and ended up walking from London to Cambridge in a chili pepper and a carrot costume and posted pictures of it on social media. It did draw a surprisingly large amount of attention. We also organized bake sells and my friend sold glow sticks in a night club.
Getting started was probably the hardest part, but overall the fundraising was a lot easier than expected!
What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think back to your time as a volunteer?
The office in Kathmandu. Most of my coworkers where locals and everybody was so friendly and welcoming and also just dedicated. It was a really nice atmosphere.
Can you tell us a funny story that happened during your time in Nepal?
On a free day I went to Nagarkot, a smaller town close to Kathmandu together with my friend and another volunteer, who was 193cm tall. Which is tall even by our European standards. In Nepal though, 193cm is like being a giant. And many things, especially public transportation just isn’t made with people that tall in mind. So when we arrived after a drive of more than an hour he couldn’t wait to leave the car and stretch out his legs that where clenched between him and the front seat the whole time. So he got out and his legs just…collapsed and he fell in the arms of our poor taxi driver who got obviously caught off guard by his body weight but did his best to catch him and somehow carry him to a nearby bench. A few minutes after everything was fine again, but the scene was just hilarious.
What was your favorite food you ate in Nepal?
In the office two Nepalese women would always prepare us our lunch consisting of Dhal Bat (Nepal’s national food, rice and lentils) with different kinds of curries, which were always delicious.
Also Momos, dumplings filled with different kinds of meat, usually chicken or buffalo!
From all the people you got to know during your experience, what story impacted you the most?
Not necessarily a story that impacted me the most, but a very fond memory that describes the Nepalese mentality I have experienced very well. We went to a town called Dhunche in the Lang Tan district, north of Kathmandu for a field visit. There’s a famous pilgrimage trek there that we walked about half of when we had some free time. On the way we met the cutest two children, who, without speaking a word of English, invited us to their home for tea. We didn’t really speak a word in Nepalese either but somehow, we were able to communicate and had a really great time.
What did you learn during your time in Nepal? If you look at your life before the trip and now back home, do you think it impacted your lifestyle?
I got to do a lot of interviews, spoke to a lot of locals and many people impacted by earthquake, which definitely had an impact on me. When I got back to England and saw all these Skyscrapers and huge super luxury hotels I just had to think how unnecessary they are. Stuff like that doesn’t even exist in Nepal. Yes, they also have nice and more expensive hotels but nothing comes even close to what we have here.
What’s your travel tip for anyone interested in getting to know Nepal?
Don’t worry about what you eat, just try everything, even from the smaller places. Food quality is actually very good in Nepal (I very rarely had problems with my stomach)!
And get to know lots of people, especially locals, they are super welcoming and friendly and will help you find places you’d never find on your own.
Is there something else you would like to tell about your experience?
If you do an IVP, plan in some extra time afterwards to travel. Nepal is a beautiful country and there’s just so much to see!
Interested in International Volunteering with Street Child? Check out our International Volunteering Programme!