Going into Nepal slightly anxious, I arrived and realised I needn’t have worried. Nepal is a beautiful, welcoming country with many friendly people. Meeting everyone there was a wonderful experience and a great relief.
The first week was packed full of Nepali lessons, it wasn’t quite what I expected from a training week, I think I would’ve understood training to be more of a practical experience, lessons that would prove useful for the actual work we were doing. Nevertheless, Nepali lessons were really useful and I particularly enjoyed learning it and putting it to use in the village. It helped me build good relations with all of the villagers I met, and the mutual learning of English/Nepali by the community/volunteers was a wonderful thing to be a part of.
Travel, accommodation and food were all continuously provided by both the charity and the family we stayed with. Whilst the drive to Sima was very scary, the welcome we got there was charming and felt undeserved. Janak and his family are some of the most generous, accommodating, funny and hard-working people I’ve met. The food was delicious, and only tedious for the first few weeks (I could put away 3 servings of dal bhat each meal by the end). Ama was a great cook and we definitely all learned the best way to converse with her and make her laugh by the last few weeks.
The project itself was overall a success, but there were definitely some struggles in the first few weeks, as the rain made work difficult, meaning we were left without much to do or with little work to do each day. Finishing at 3 on days where we could definitely work longer was frustrating and I began to feel a bit volun-touristy for the first 2 weeks. After that, the work began to pick up a bit and after a visit from Shushila, our language coach and an official from PSD, our partner charity, we had some discussions with Janak, and we felt that the volume and effectiveness of the work definitely increased, and the days passed more quickly than ever and we were all happily exhausted by the end of the day.
Adjusting to life in Nepal wasn’t easy, but it was far better than I had fretted about at home. The group got along well, challenging each other but having loads of laughs at the same time and working together as a team when it mattered most. The relationships and skills I built up in Nepal are certainly ones that’ll last a long time.
Having anticipated a massive culture shock upon arrival, and then watching the community’s daily life, I came to the realisation that perhaps the further you go away from home, the more you realise that at the heart, people are all the same!