My friend Jason and I wanted an experience that would contribute to our own personal growth and, at the same time, enable us to help others who are less fortunate. After we decided that we would volunteer in Nepal, I conducted some internet research and found Volunteer Nepal and felt strongly that it was the right choice for us.
While making our plans, Jason and I realized that others might like the opportunity to be a part of our experience. We have different networks, so prior to leaving for Nepal, we asked people we know whether they would be interested in donating cash or goods to Nepal Orphans Home.
One friend, whose family owns a chain called Drake Supermarket, got the word out to others. His effort resulted in donations that filled 29 boxes with sporting goods, toys, coloring books, pencils, children’s books, jigsaw puzzles, and more. The boxes containing the donations that Jason collected were delivered to Drake’s warehouse where I prepared them for shipment. Drake then delivered them to a company that agreed to ship them to Nepal for $1,200, which seemed reasonable compared to much higher amounts quoted by other companies.
When we arrived in Kathmandu, we inquired whether the boxes had arrived and were told that they had not. When we made calls to the airport during the next two days, we were told conflicting stories, but when we checked on the internet, the tracking database indicated that the shipment had arrived. The next time we called we were informed that it would cost $1,000 to pick up the boxes. We could not believe it. In hindsight, we may have been very naive. Jehan did tell us before we left that getting packages delivered could be an issue, but by then we already had the donated gifts. We spoke to someone in Kathmandu who agreed to make inquiries on our behalf and let us know the outcome, which ended up being that he could “organize delivery” for $600. Again, we were disappointed, so we decided to go to the Australian Embassy for help. They told us to speak to the Director of Air Freight. We did so, but he was rude and arrogant, and told us that Nepalese people did not need our donations. We left there disillusioned.
Two days before leaving, Jason and I had to decide whether we would just leave the goods there or spend the money to get them out. We talked about our options and decided to pay the money. Manou and Elodie, two volunteers from France, offered to donate $200 toward the cost of the required bribes and we gratefully accepted. We arranged to hand over the $600 and for delivery to the Volunteer House the next day.
The boxes were at the Volunteer House when we arrived home the next night. Our last day was a holiday, so Michael had all of the children at his house by 8.30 a.m. Jason and I unpacked the boxes, and the children lined up and were each able to choose a gift. This process took about an hour, but the looks on their faces and the happiness that we saw in their eyes made it one of the best days of our lives.
My experience as a volunteer was very rewarding. I got to share my Bowen Therapy skills with the physiotherapists at SERC, where they rehabilitate children with varying disabilities. I have formed wonderful friendships with the group of people there and will definitely return to build on what I have shared with them. Being with the children at the orphanages was both sad and wonderful at the same time. I’m sure that anyone who has volunteered will completely understand what I mean by that. It has changed me as a person and the way I view life.
Jason loves a project to sink his teeth into and helped paint the house adjacent to Papa’s House. He also paid for some of the paint. He loved spending time with the boys, and we spent our flight home discussing what we learned about ourselves and what changes we want to make as a result of our amazing experience.