During my gap year, I decided to go to Nepal to follow a volunteering program in an orphanage. Here are the different steps I went through.
First, why did I choose to go to Nepal?
Known for its amazing mountains and landscapes, its colorful culture similar to Indian’s, Nepal is a country that I have always been attracted to. Besides, I have always been uncomfortable with hot and humid weather. That’s why Nepal was a country that perfectly suited me in terms of climate.
What kind of volunteering program did I go for?
There was plenty of different programs that I could participate in: reconstruction of buildings after the 2015 Earthquake, teaching English or French, support wildlife conservation, etc. On my end, I had always wanted to take care of children and help them live a better life and have access to education. That’s why I chose to volunteer in an orphanage.
Which program should I choose?
After many weeks of research and calls to associations specialized in volunteering programs, I realized how expensive volunteering could be. Some of them cost 2000€ for 2 months…! As a student, I did not such a budget to travel.
My family and friends recommended to read testimonials and blogs about people who went volunteering themselves. This is how I ended up on Bajura’s website, created by a young men called Paul, former student from my school. He described his experience as a volunteer at HCC orphanage in Nepal two years before. It was located in Budhanilkantha, next to Kathmandu. I contacted him in order to know more about his missions there, what he exactly did and achieved and how he proceeded. After a few days, I was decided to go there and enjoy myself by doing something positive for the Nepalese community.
Arrival to Nepal.
Luckily, Paul was there at the time I got there, in February 2019. As a young entrepreneur, he was on site to follow the production of the bags he was selling. He could thus help me to settle in and show me what he already knew about the orphanage and the Nepalese culture.
When I got at the orphanage, I met Indrakala Pariyar, the woman who founded HCC orphanage with her husband. She welcomed me by putting a flower collar, a mala, and a sort of scarf, a khata, around my neck. She also drew a red dot on my forehead, called tikka. This welcoming ceremony was very meaningful to me, and symbolized the beginning of a new adventure.
What surprised me the most at first was their notion of family. They are calling each other brothers and sisters, and the founders of the orphanage are being called Mommy andBoba( “father” in Nepali). They called me “Yalin sister” even if they barely knew me, and included me in their routine as if I had been part of their family. As most the kids spoke English, I could easily talk to them.
The following weeks went very well. I was trying to find my feet within a culture that I was discovering. For instance, I learnt to speak Nepali but also to eat dal bhat with my hands! I also found out that Nepali are very superstitious, so it is highly prohibited to whistle at home.