Rosemary Thoars, Australia
Volunteer Coordinator, 01/09/2014 to 28/09/2014
My arrival in Nepal was a real culture shock!
The heat, the crowds, the noise, the dirt, compounded by a tiny hotel room – that I was expected to share – made me immediately question my decision to come to Nepal.
“What was I doing? Why did I chose to do this? What am I doing coming to Nepal to volunteer all by myself? I’m 58 years old, what am I trying to prove and to whom?”
But then, I met other volunteers –
Getting out into the Kathmandu Valley with a couple of other new recruits helped. Sharing new experiences with other volunteers helped to form an immediate bond. Not only did we share information about our homes and backgrounds, but I discovered that they were also uncertain about their placements; the work they would be doing, and the host family they would be staying with.
This helped me to relax a little, obviously (I thought) my initial feelings were normal and part of the settling in process.
The first 2 ½ days with VIN were induction days. The induction went fine, we had a sharing of ideas on what I expected from my placement (from the VIN website) and what VIN wanted – they matched!
My volunteer placement was the best. It involved supporting the volunteers, which included keeping in touch with them by email and txt, as well as going out into the field to visit them. What a great experience. I also did some work in the office for VIN reviewing grammar etc. on documentation.
Being able to see the volunteers at ‘work’ I was able to find out how they were feeling about their placement, what they felt they were or were not achieving. I discovered that VIN was more than open to listening to any concerns or suggestions that volunteers had.
I also found VIN to be very supportive of volunteers, we had one volunteer who was unwell, and one who unfortunately slipped and hurt his knee. VIN was there! Transport, support at the hospital, anything they could do to help, it was never a problem.
I think that the support from VIN, their willingness to really listen to suggestions and problems, and the fact that they want feedback for continuous improvement are some of the main things that will stick in my mind.
I also think the holistic approach taken by VIN to support, empower and educate the Nepali people is working well with positive outcomes.
The longer I worked with VIN the more I enjoyed my placement and my time in Nepal. My initial reactions faded into oblivion very quickly. I am sad to leave, part of me just wants to stay in Nepal and continue the work I am doing with VIN. I will miss all of the people here, and while adjusting to a city like Thamel is (for me) a work in progress, the Kathmandu Valley needs no adjustment it is beautiful, as are the people of Nepal. Try it, and you will see.