Volunteering at an orphanage in Nepal : to do or not to do.
When you wish to go to Nepal and you think you might like to become a volunteer there will be hundreds of different projects to choose from. However, when you look for volunteering related information online, you might come across a multitude of articles warning you against becoming a volunteer at an orphanage. Reason being, there are way too many wrong type of orphanages across Nepal, where children are being sold by their parents or trafficked from the villages into a business organization making profit from the orphanage status. It is important to be aware of this issue and careful not to contribute to this industry but, in my opinion, it doesn't mean that your help is not needed. There are still genuine children's homes in Nepal with kids waiting for love and attention.
My take on volunteering at a children's home in Nepal.
I arrive to Kathmandu at 9:30pm. This is my first time in Asia. I have no expectations but coming out of the airport I am still a little stunned by the fuss outside of it. There is a crowd of what seems at first sight like a couple of hundreds of people. The crowd is loud shouting out ''Taxi'' or ''Kathmandu''. It takes me a few moments to notice a sign with my name and recognize Sujan, who was picking me up from the airport but before I do, I am approached by a lad who offers to get me a taxi. I refuse politely and walk in the direction of Sujan, to my surprise, so does the lad. They say a few words to each other which makes me think, they are acquainted, especially when he starts following us in the direction of the taxi. He opens my door and wishes to help me with my bag. ''Is he your friend?'' I ask Sujan. ''No, he just wants to get some money from you'' he tells me. And off we drive into the dark streets of Kathmandu.There is no or very few street lights on our way so I can only see the road in a narrow strip of light projected by the taxi. After a 30 minute ride we get off into the pitch dark mud road and I follow Sujan through a slim passage, across a courtyard and inside a wooden door. The house is already asleep, we are only greeted by friendly tail wiggles of 3 sleepy dogs and I am left to get some rest in a small but cozy room on the top floor of the ''Innovative Social Center and Children's Home Nepal''. Next morning I am woken up by the noise of children laughing, dogs barking and women shouting across the yard. It is 6am and it's a perfect time to become a volunteer!
As I walk down the stairs I am greeted by 11 tight hugs and a collective ''Good morning, Sister!''. I meet and get surrounded by 11 wonderful children of the Children's Home Nepal. For the next 2 weeks I became a part of a big loving Nepali family, living with them and learning from them every day. The volunteer routine consists of waking the kids up at 6:30 am (sometimes I was the one they were waking up), making sure they clean up their rooms, finish off their homework, help with the chores around the house, the girls would help in the kitchen, the boys would bring the water from the yard. After breakfast we walk the kids to the school bus and wish them a good day. Kids go to school 6 days a week, Saturdays and every 3rd Sunday are free. When the children get home from school, we help them with their homework, play some games, dance, paint or do some handcraft, meditate and the house falls asleep after the dinner. Every day I watched these kids and admired how caring of one another they were, how obedient, how eager to learn.
The Innovative Social Center and The Children's Home Nepal have been founded and run by Periyar Family tree years ago. The Father of the Family is serving the Nepali army and is currently a volunteer at the UN in Sudan. Thus the responsibility of the Mommy, younger sister, 11 kids, 2 grandparents and 3 dogs lies on the shoulders of Sujan, who himself is only 22 years of age.
Sujan is studying to become an Engineer, it will be a useful profession in the future since his 10 year plan includes a construction of a boarding school for the orphans and the underprivileged children of Kathmandu. At his young age Sujan is the director of the charitable organization called Innovative Social Center, which not only takes care of his Family run Children's Home but constantly seeks other ways to help the children of Nepal. During my stay on this project we have gone together to visit two other children's homes in Kathmandu to offer help, bring food, donate clothes and spend some time with the children. age.
There is a school in the beautiful Nuwakot district (30 km away from Kathmandu) that was destroyed during the earthquake of 2015. Sujan helped building a temporary bamboo construction to host the school with it's 65 pupils and is currently sponsoring 10 of the poorest children's education at this school.
Sujan's mind is always full of ideas about new projects, among which is the medical base-camp he is currently working on. He had contacted a medical clinic which, together with medical volunteers will form a team insuring regular health check-ups for the street children and the children's homes of Kathmandu. In order to support the activity of this organization, Sujan relies on the volunteer weekly contribution but also constantly works on fund-raising initiatives such as producing hammocks, necklaces and T-shirts to sell.
Personally, I consider myself lucky to have met Sujan as he is one of kindest most caring and generous people I know. Sujan says ''I want to become a Millionaire''. How greedy of him one might think. But then he adds ''Then I could help a million people in need!''.
If you wish to know more about the Innovative Social Centre or help them in any way, please check out their web page or contact Sujan directly on Facebook.