Why did I decide to come to volunteer here
I was in the final semester of my MA studies, working on a research for my thesis, when I started realizing that I am going to be done with a huge part of my life of going to school. After this I wanted to keep on pursuing things that I believe in which are human rights.
I wanted to expand my research into different environments throughout the world and Nepal was on my list of countries for my research so, I went.
The Himalayas themselves have always been appealing to me so it seemed like the right choice to make while my body can still handle these conditions well enough. My academic desires and personal dreams kind of joined into and idea of going to Nepal.
Once I decided to pursue it for real it was not too hard to google my way into a remote NGO working in the far-west Nepal doing developmental work for the villagers that suffer from the lack of basic needs.
I decided to help out an organization called Creative Innovative Himalayan Group which does have a certain swag to it’s name.
I talked to the director of this locally based NGO for 10 minutes, while we discussed practical questions that you need to ask before coming. It basically came down to: “Come to Chainpur for as long as you like, your research is most welcome. We will see you at the end of September.” This made the planning so much easier, because I had to do everything any tourist would have to do without any complications :).
My decision to come specifically to Bathekhola was therefore purely a throw of a dart on the map and randomly picking the most amazing piece of peace on earth.
What did I expect from this experience at the beginning
Having three months to prepare for a trip that should have lasted for unknown time, I expected many challenges for the lack of preparation. But to be honest I spent more time preparing mentally that there is no way around getting sick for sure at least once, and that for certain there would have to be an adjustment period, which of course there was.
I expected that some moments might get uncomfortable and challenging so I tried to make my peace with it before.
I also expected new perspective on the global problems from such a different culture that I am used to seeing in my travels and studies. The things even little kids in my country know about Nepal is that it is the roof of the world and that badass dads go to Annapurna.
However after actually landing to Kathmandu, all my expectations shattered and open up to an unbelievable experience from the very first moment to the last.
What has this experience enriched me and what did it take from me
I could write fifty pages about everything that happened during my time in the remote mountains, which seem like an island to everything else that is actually going on in the world. However, if you are a traveller or an actual researcher, this is THE best way how to explore a country- through the areas where governmental help is not reaching full development of some areas such as Bathekhola valley, next to Chainpur, Bajhang district.
The views are stunning from literally wherever you stand on the mountain, the higher up you go to take a hike you discover breathtaking views of enormous chunks of earth that these mountains are. You really get a new perspective about the remoteness of these villages when you look at most of these mountains.
The biggest thing you realize in Nepal is the connection of the villagers with nature, dependence of their daily schedule upon the sun, with the appearance of modern looking clothes and great sense for general good looks and self care. Influenced by the teachings of great Hindu teachers that believed in natural beauty and kindness make, Nepalese villagers are the most amazing and peaceful people I have ever met. To live among these people and be so welcomed as their guest even as a teacher in the local school was an amazing experience.
Yes, the aforementioned challenges of “third world nature” took some toll on my body during and after my stay. Was it worth it? Absolutely, any day, always. I did not find myself missing any sort of food since their cuisine is well balanced and tasty, I had just enough technology to create comfy environment and I was waking up with a fat smile on my face every day, (even through the cold mornings).
There was no need to spend money only for everyday dirty pleasures of candy of all sorts and unlimited amounts of mountain Nepalese black gold for virtually nothing. Time and money well spent as far as travelling goes.
I was an active teaching staff member for nearly 3 months however, due to some administration issues I did not end up teaching appropriate time. The staff of teachers were a group of amazingly educated people assigned by the government to teach in these remote areas. I quickly became friends with the teachers and spent countless hours talking, half nepalese half english.
However, overcoming the small obstacles was easy when I realized that I have a 2 hour workday and the best chance to catch up on my sleep that I lacked a bit during my college years. Meditation, reading and workouts naturally got some time in my daily routine as well. I went to explore the mountains als much as I wanted and could and found a lot of hidden treasures that Nepal has to offer.
The best overall experience was working with the children. It kind of really feels rewarding when you teach a little rascal how to wash hands and the concept of putting shoes at the right feet- entertaining in the best way possible for me, educational and entertaining in the best way for them. I call that WINNING.
What I recommend for future volunteers
Take Nepal as an experience that will change you or your perspectives in some ways. Take it as exploration of everything different. If I took Nepal for everything it fails to be, I would not enjoy it as much as when I chose to enjoy this life for everything it is.
Prepare for a journey not a destination and you will discover amazing places of all sorts on every corner in Nepal. From remote Bathekhola lifestyle, through trekking the Annapurna Base Camp trek from beautiful Pokhara, or crowded Kathmandu which looks nothing like Doctor Strange’s version; everything in Nepal is an amazing opportunity to discover, research and open up new perspectives, whether through fellow Nepalese or fellow tourists that you meet in Nepal, or the countryside itself. Himalayas are amazing, enjoy it and learn on the way. So while in Nepal, whatever your job is, explore and never stop wondering.
Sum up the experience in one sentence
“Simple living, high thinking”- old nepalese proverb. All you need to kno