Volunteer Name: Marilyn Buchanan
Project Location: Kathmandu, Nepal
Program Dates: From Nov 11 2014 to Jan 06 2015
Volunteered at: Woman's Support Projects
1- How was the local ABV Coordinator and the support provided in-country?
Incredible! the coordinators were both very welcoming and informative, and I felt right at home. The sisters, our support, were wonderful and kind to us, as well as were willing to show us how to do things on our own as well as encourage us, all the while making sure we were safe and had their support. They were a family to us, and we knew they were there for us.
2- What was the most surprising thing you experienced?
The strength of the Nepali women. Not only physically, but through everything, along with the support of the volunteers, you could see them thrive and blossom with a little help. It was expected, but the way they took to it so well was a bit surprising, and how much it made me grow as well.
3- What was most difficult to experience?
The way that foreigners are treated over there. There is both a kindness and harshness, depending on where you go. If you travel alone, always be on the look out and do not show unnecessary smiles. Blending in as much as you can is key, and as long as you stay aware of your surroundings, even if people want to take your picture because they don't see many tourists, you can still know that you are in charge and not be as worried.
4- Any tips for future volunteers… (Clothing, travel, personal items, donations)
If you go in the November-December time, make sure you have T-shirts and long sleeve layers. Don't pack very much--You won't need it over there. Travel is encouraged, but also when you go to the farm or stay in Kathmandu, don't hide in your room. Go and talk with the sisters. Make friends with them. They are your support and local family. Plus, they can share a lot of the culture with you without you plunging in blindly.
5- Personal Paragraph (ABV Program Testimonial):
The farm is a good environment for anyone who wants to volunteer. If you get sick, it's alright. Don't be afraid to talk to the sisters or to tell them something is wrong. All and all, be out there and offer whatever you can. You'll find a place there for sure.
6- How would you describe your accommodation, meals, security (e: host family, on-site, shared)
Through this program, I have been able to experience a once in a life time opportunity. Not only to help those in Nepal, which included women, children, and those in the villages and in the city of Kathmandu, but to also have a time to explore this incredible country. ABV brought me together with wonderful, open minded people that allowed us to explore ways for us to help the community of Manku and Goganpani in their schools, on the farm, and through the medical clinics in both villages. I found myself engrossed in the ways of the Nepali women, and enjoyed everything, from de-licing children to helping teachers improve their English so they can better teach the Nepali children. The 8 weeks I was there, I would like to think I made an improvement, no matter how small, and that I had an impact on the women there. I hope they always remain as strong as I remember them, and I hope to go back again with ABV's help to do more work in the future.
7- What was your favorite memory of this trip?
The beds are hard, but you do get used to them. Otherwise they are very nice, some rooms are warm, some are cold. They all have an outlet with a power strip that has converting capabilities. There is wifi, even if it may go out sometimes. Any time you are too cold, you can get more blankets. Meals are all fresh and made with consideration to the western palate. If you have an idea to cook something, just tell the sisters and they'll be happy to help! Or even let you watch, so you can learn how to make Nepali meals. Security is good, with all doors able to deadbolt lock. At each house there is a "guard dog" (more like a fluffy dog that keeps a look out at night and can alert via barks) and the sisters always make sure anything you leave either at the farm or in Kathmandu is safe.
8- How was the ABV USA support prior traveling?
Meeting my friends. I can remember laughing with the sisters and the volunteers that made my experience so wonderful. I have to say that they are now a great deal a part of my life.
9 – Are you willing to speak to other potential ABV volunteers?
They were wonderful! Always answering my questions, and I had plenty of them! They made sure anything I was worried about was eased and they made the experience easy and accommodating. By the time I boarded the plane, I knew everything was planned out.
10 – Are you willing to speak to other potential ABV volunteers?
would be more than happy to help those who have questions about traveling to Nepal.