Nepal Volunteer Program

Map Nepal

Background:

No part of the world is more geographically inaccessible than Nepal. Until 1950, it was closed to foreigners. According to the National Geographic magazine published in January 1950, no more than 300 westerners had visited Nepal in its entire history. Now the number is over 175,000 every year.

Nepal, a small country about 500 miles long and 100 miles wide, has most of the highest peaks of the world. Tourists are attracted there to see the towering peaks of the Himalayas. A few days' trip is enough to see the mountains of Nepal. However, to truly understand this country and its people, one must spend time in a village working with the villagers.

Nepal Mission

Mission:
The mission of the program is to encourage and invite university students to learn about the people, the culture and environment of Nepal through volunteer service in the public schools and mountain villages. This program is designed for students who wish to travel in Nepal and share their skills with the people of a Nepalese village. Students can earn university credits for their work in Nepal.

Program Objective:
In this age of the Internet, one can get information about anything by just sitting in front of the computer and clicking a mouse. However, one needs to come out from in front of that computer and travel to explore, see and experience the real world and all its wonders. Our program has the following objective:

  • Provide a first hand experience of Nepalese village life
  • Provide a teaching opportunity in a public high school and/or elementary school.
  • Provide an opportunity to learn about the natural environment, the environmental problems of the region and work on conservation.
  • Provide an opportunity to teach skills such as handicrafts, food processing, weaving, and knitting so that villagers can produce something saleable to earn cash income.
  • Provide opportunity for community service on public health, sanitation and culture conservation.
  • Provide assistance for the participants to do research in such areas as anthropology, health, ecology, vegetation and culture of the region.

Who operates this Program?
The Department of International Education, University of Nebraska at Kearney, operates this program in collaboration with Himanchal High School, Nepal.

Himanchal High School is a not-for profit high school. The elementary and middle school section of the school is government supported. The high school, started in 1992, is supported by the community and receives no funds from the government. The community has initiated different income producing projects such as rabbit and duck raising, camping sites for the tourists, yak farming, raw material processing plant for handmade paper, etc., to make the school self reliant. Until now it has gained some success in some of
the income producing projects.

Location of the Village and School:
Himanchal High School is located in the northwestern region of Nepal. The elevation of the village is about 7,300 ft. The Dhaulagiri ranges and the Annapurna ranges of the Himalayas, which has several peaks over 25,000 ft, is about 25 air miles from the area. The road distance from Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, to Beni, the nearest town, is about 190 miles which is about a thirteen hours bus ride. From Beni, it takes about a nine-hour walk uphill to get to the village.
 

Nepal Lake

The high school is situated in a wishbone shaped valley with a total population of about 3,500 scattered in six villages including Nangi. Nangi village itself has a population of about 750. It is in the middle of five other villages within a walking distance of two and one half hours. 99% of the people of the valley belong to Pun Magar tribe.

Eligibility:
The number of participants in the program is limited to four at a time because of the shortage of living facilities in the school. Opportunities are available year around. We suggest, however, that you do not plan your trip during the monsoon period from Mid-June until the end of August.

Cost:
Participants need to pay for their own air tickets. A small fee will be charged to cover the expense of the teacher who comes to pick up the participants at Kathmandu airport. There is no charge for room and board in the village but participants can donate money monthly to help buy needed supplies.

Participants who want to earn credit must register with the University of Nebraska at Kearney. The course is a variable credit course from 1-6 hours. Please contact the International Studies Director (lillyc@unk.edu) for information regarding course credit (1-6 hours). Those participants, who don't want to earn credit for the program must pay an application fee of $25. At the end of the program all participants will receive a certificate of recognition from the University of Nebraska at Kearney for their service.

Participants must bring their own medication and provide health and accident insurance.

Living Arrangements:
Volunteers will stay in a house built by the school. It has two bed rooms each with two beds, a kitchen, a bathroom and a common room. Participants need to cook by themselves. The school and the villagers will provide cooking oil and locally grown food such as potatoes, beans, eggs, flour, and rice. Fruits, vegetables and mushrooms will be available depending on the time of the year. Powdered milk, sugar, tea, coffee, noodles and spices will also be provided. If a participant wishes to stay with a family, he or she must pay a small amount of monthly rent to help the family buy supplies.

Simple conveniences like electricity, hot showers and computers are available. However, if a participant chooses to live in a neighboring village or school, many of these conveniences are not available. Some of the villages might not have electricity.

Activities:
The program will start with one-week language and cultural orientation program. A language class that will meet for one hour per day will continue throughout the whole period of the program. Participants will work closely with teachers of the school and those in charge of their work area such as village health workers, the forest management committee, members of the village council, to mention a few. The participants can be involved in any of the following activities and programs they are interested in.

Teaching
English is taught in the school from the first grade. In the lower grade levels, participants will teach different types of nursery rhymes and stories. In the higher-grade level, they will teach basic phrases, vocabulary, sentence structures, grammar and writing.

The curriculum provided by the government does not have anything in the area of the arts. However, participants can teach students the arts: visual arts, dance and music. Participants will be able to learn Nepalese songs and dance.

Participants can also teach computer usage to the students as well as to the teachers. The school now has five 486 and two 386-model computers donated by friends abroad. Participants can teach science, math and any other classes they are interested in.

Coaching
Participants can teach different types of sports and games to the students and the young people from the village. They can coach volleyball, basketball, soccer, karate, or other sports.

Conservation
Much progress has been made in the area of nature conservation. The village has a community nursery that produces about 15,000 to 20,000 saplings of different varieties of trees each year. Some of the trees are planted every year in the community land and the rest are distributed to the neighboring villages.

Participants can work in the nursery in producing the trees. The director of nursery has a deep knowledge of the plants and herbs that are found in the region. He will guide the participants to learn about the natural environment and the conservation activities that are going on in the village. If participants arrive in summer, they will also plant trees.

The school also has a small nursery where students learn how to grow trees. The middle school provides environmental education. Participants can create different projects and organize activities in order to get students involved in the nature conservation project.

Community Service

  • Health
    There is a small health clinic in the school for the community because there is no health center in the village. Participants can work with our "village doctor" who has only 6 months training about basic health care. Participants can also provide training and work with the villagers in the area of hygiene, nutrition and child care.
  • Library
    Participants can also work in the school library, which also serves as the public. They can help the librarian organize the library, and they can show educational videos to the students and to the villagers in the library.
  • Manual or skill labor service
    Participants can also work together with the villagers in different community works such as building construction and community tree planting. Participants also can provide skilled service such as masonry, furniture making, electrical wiring, and other areas of need.
  • Income Producing Programs
    Until now, the high school is run with the financial support of individual donors abroad. One of the main efforts of the villagers is to make the high school self reliant by starting income producing programs that are viable. Participants can help run the camping sites built by the villagers for the tourists. The income from the camping ground goes to pay the teachers.

A great need that presently exists is the creation of an eco-tourism program in the region which could be the main source of income for the school. Besides this, participants can teach handicrafts, knitting, weaving, sewing, and food processing.

Research Studies:
Assistance in gathering information and collecting data will be provided for those participants who want to do research studies in the region. Arrangements will be made for their living when they travel to various sites to carry out projects they have develop or to collect data and gather information.

Special Activities:

  • Tour Program
    Depending upon the interest of the participants, programs such as tours of neighboring villages and schools can be organized. The participants can visit and spend some times in our Yak raising project which is a two days walk from the village at the foot of the Himalayas.
  • Invitations
    Whenever local festivals or social events such as a marriage ceremony, worshiping and village fairs are organized in the village, participants will be invited to participate. They will be considered as members of the community.

End of the Program:
At the end of the program, the village council, the school management committee, teachers and students will organize a farewell party for the participants. Participants will be given a letter of recognition and appreciation for their service to the community and school. Participants will also get presents made by the villagers and students.