It was last winter when I was first presented with the concept of Global Place. A project that involved organizations from across the globe and was meant to create bridges, form partnerships and support the exchange of good practices and experiences. I was offered a place in Nepal, in the non-profit, non-governmental and non-religious organization Volunteers Initiative Nepal (VIN), based in Kathmandu. For 21 days, I would be part of the Nepali community and participate as a Job Shadower in the organization, in order to learn how they work, what methods they use and most of all, what projects they run. Meanwhile, I would merge with the locals, find out about their customs and habits, learn their history and experience their everyday life.
It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I couldn’t let it slip away. So, on August 1st, I was packed up and ready to start my adventure. An adventure that proved to be unforgettable and life changing in every aspect. Being exposed to such a tremendously different culture and environment can be shocking and certainly awakening, helping me gain so much both personally and professionally.
Volunteers Initiative Nepal runs almost 50 different projects such as support of marginalized communities, women’s empowerment, health and sanitation, climate change research, English teaching and, at the period I was there, earthquake and post-disaster relief since, due to the massively destructive earthquakes last spring, a great number of people were left without homes. My duties included office administration and volunteer coordination, so I had the chance to be both in the office and visit different project sites. Through the 21 days of my placement, I met with a lot of international and local volunteers, visited house construction sites, Buddhist monasteries, reviewed questionnaires and reports and conducted my own reports.
The experience wouldn’t have been complete though without living the Nepali everyday life but thanks to the Gurung family that hosted me during my stay, I was able to get accustomed to their habits. In my free time, I could either stay home and spent time with my host “sisters”, explore the colorful and noisy Katmandhu or go on short trips around the country with fellow volunteers.
Everything about this trip was powerful. From the tastes and the smells, to the magnificent sceneries and the people’s kindness and strong attitude towards life. I believe VIN does a great job in helping people in need. Both staff and volunteers are dedicated in doing their best for the relief of the communities, many times under difficult and demanding conditions. I am grateful that I was able to participate in this project and learn so much, and I am planning to use this knowledge in the best possible way.