Providing a genuine experience for volunteers in Nepal.

EHN Nepal

About

EHN was first set up in 2010 as a Nepali NGO called Experience Himalayan Nepal but in 2014 we registered as Education & Health Nepal after the two fields we want to concentrate on. And since that day And since day 1 we have been placing volunteers across Nepal (over 350 to date) in projects that we are supporting. In 2015 we registered as a UK charity and have started working on our own projects designed to support the poorer communities in Nepal. We have a policy that only the team members working in Nepal are paid so over 95% of the money generated through EHN is spent in Nepal where its needed.

Founded
2010
Headquarters

United States

Reviews

Default avatar
larlieticknall
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My time spent in the village of Gerku was magical. I enjoy travelling and have participated in volunteering across the world but this project was the best by far. I am a medical student, and so spent most of my time working in the hut of a medical centre, treating the locals with the medications we purchased in Kathmandu. I travelled with another medical student and a radiographer.
We stayed with a local family, just a 10-15 minute walk from the centre. We felt so welcome! Living the life of a local for just a couple of weeks really opened my eyes to the way the other side of the world lives. Collecting food for meals, milking the buffalo, helping to prepare dinner, all the household tasks we hate to do back home became so enjoyable. The family members spoke very good English, and we enjoyed teaching each other about our cultures. We all became great friends. The villagers are all very friendly, and are keen for conversation, to a point where you forget you are a visitor!
In terms of teaching, I only took a class or two, but these kids are SO keen to learn! They sit there wide-eyed, very well behaved and lap up all of your teaching. The younger children's English are limited, but the older kids can keep up a simple conversation, and all are striving to improve. The classrooms are very basic, with only English (and not accurately written mind) textbooks for aid. They are very good at learning the words, but their pronunciation is limited, which is why they desperately need English speaking volunteers to help out.
I have recommended EHN to most of my friends. It is the volunteering experience that is so rare to find nowadays. I have worked with many charities and this is the one I trust the most. We felt remarkably safe out there, and I really did have the time of my life.

What would you improve about this program?
EHN are trying their hardest to improve the situations over there, but obviously a higher level of approach is needed (such as improving the teaching programs at a government level). I believe they are doing their best to combat this.
Default avatar
AnhonyShock
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I volunteered with EHN for 3 weeks in September 2012. It was my first abroad volunteering experience, so it was pretty scary and was all new to me.

First thing that attracted me to EHN was the cheap program cost. That's pretty much what you initially look for, right? EHN beat everywhere in terms of cost - they're one of the most economical, honest organisations I have ever encountered.

The projects they provide are in areas of real need in Nepal, and are well-evaluated by EHN staff to ensure they're safe, ethically sound, and so you know what to expect before you start. Some of the projects were quite difficult at times; sometimes the local project staff were hard to work with, but that's essentially real life. That was the most important thing I learnt during my experience with EHN: it was real life out there, and it's not consistently easy and joyous. Really, the same applies to all projects worldwide. If you don't feel the real hardship of the community you stay with, you haven't been given the true experience that you perhaps paid a lot of money for. EHN seemed far more committed to providing a genuine experience than any other organisations like Frontier or ProjectsAbroad, and at a much much much lower price.

I couldn't recommend EHN enough for your Nepal visit! :)

What would you improve about this program?
The organisation is still young, so there were some minor hiccups. When I visited in September 2012, the organisation had experienced an unexpected boom in volunteers and the staff suddenly had a heavy workload to deal with.

I still check in on EHN at present and they have since recruited an extra group of people to help them cope with the demand and keep up the good things they do
Default avatar
AnthonyShock
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I volunteered with EHN for 3 weeks in September 2012. It was my first abroad volunteering experience, so it was pretty scary and was all new to me.

First thing that attracted me to EHN was the cheap program cost. That's pretty much what you initially look for, right? EHN beat everywhere in terms of cost - they're one of the most economical, honest organisations I have ever encountered.

The projects they provide are in areas of real need in Nepal, and are well-evaluated by EHN staff to ensure they're safe, ethically sound, and so you know what to expect before you start. Some of the projects were quite difficult at times; sometimes the local project staff were hard to work with, but that's essentially real life. That was the most important thing I learnt during my experience with EHN: it was real life out there, and it's not consistently easy and joyous. Really, the same applies to all projects worldwide. If you don't feel the real hardship of the community you stay with, you haven't been given the true experience that you perhaps paid a lot of money for. EHN seemed far more committed to providing a genuine experience than any other organisations like Frontier or ProjectsAbroad, and at a much much much lower price.

I couldn't recommend EHN enough for your Nepal visit.

What would you improve about this program?
The organisation is still young, so there were some minor hiccups. When I visited in September 2012, the organisation had experienced an unexpected boom in volunteers and the staff suddenly had a heavy workload to deal with.

I still check in on EHN at present and they have since recruited an extra group of people to help them cope with the demand and keep up the good things they do.

Programs

Displaying 1 - 9 of 9

Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Asia Williams

Asia Williams is a 21 year old student from London who enjoys travelling, socialising, dancing and Thai food. She is a Geography student at London School of Economics and interested in Environmental conservation and responsible development. She enjoys working with children and meeting new cultures. Asia believes that life is short, you should make the most of it, enjoying thoroughly people's company, working hard and trying to make a positive difference. Follow what you love doing and don't be afraid to try something new.
Woman volunteering in Nepal

Why did you decide to volunteer with EHN Nepal in Kathmandu?

I decided to volunteer abroad because I wanted to get an insight in how an NGO project actually works, how the projects are laid out/constructed and where the money goes. I saw EHN advertised on Omprakash whilst I was travelling in India and planning to go to Nepal to visit friends so I sent them my details, explained what I was interested in doing and filled out the formal application. They were very friendly and informative and I knew that I would get the best possible help whilst working with them as they were very responsive and flexible to my time schedule and the things I wanted to experience whilst there.

Also, as it was a relatively new organisation, I was the first person on this specific school on the teaching project and this meant that they really regarded my feedback on the school, standards and elements of the project. It was nice to contribute to shaping the project and putting forward my ideas whilst working with the new staff and therefore the element of creativity is something I enjoyed also.

Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.

I would wake up at 7.30, shower and get ready to go to my school. At around 8 o'clock, I would go to have breakfast with my host family around the table which consisted of sweet milk tea and 'dahl bat'; which is rice and dhal and usually accompanied by a curry vegetable and some ghee. I would be so full after this! My host family was really nice, most of the family would be rushing off to work or to take the children to school and they were very close knit and worked together. I would have a chat with my host sister who was recently married into the family and then I would leave to walk to school which was 5 minutes around the corner.

At 8.45 the school day started; we would have assembly outside in the school playground with the children singing the Nepalese national anthem and usually one person is selected to recite a poem, give a talk on something related to Nepalese culture or ask a question that has been featured in recent news topics. There would also be inspection of the children's uniforms and registers. If it was raining we would do this in the classroom but it was usually sunny.

After 9.30am lessons would commence; there were 8 periods in a day, half of which I was allocated to lesson planning in the 'staff room' which was really just a medium sized shed in one corner of the playground where I would socialise with teachers and discuss competition ideas, supervise naughty children or those retaking exams etc. The other four periods I would teach various age groups from 6 years old to 16 years. I was the teacher in charge of most English lessons when I was there, so I taught from the Nepalese text book for half the time, then used my own planned activities and games to engage the children and improve their English speaking and understanding. Sometimes I was also the supply for example if teachers were ill and I taught Geography, Science and Citizenship also and taught them things about English culture and life in London.

What made this experience unique and special?

Everyone in Nepal was really loving and kind. I never once met anyone who did not want to help me. My host family were really amazing, if I felt ill they were really concerned and gave me the best care, food and treatment I could have ever asked for. They really treated me like part of their own family and were really generous towards me. The children in the school were also very special, everyday they would greet me on the way to school, during the day, in the playground, after school when I was walking home. The children were very respectful, intelligent and obedient and always wanted to learn more about my culture and my life. The teachers were equally as welcoming and friendly and really embraced me as part of the staff, several of them invited me for dinner and made sure that I never felt alone.

My experience was unique and special because of all the people that surrounded me and supported me in a new situation and I really felt at home. I miss them all very much. It was amazing to see how people with so much less than where I come from are more happy, caring and willing to share the little they had with me. It really opened my eyes to an amazing new culture and increased my understanding of how NGOs work. Also, having the chance to visit Chitwan and see the beautiful Nepalese countryside, having a bath with the elephants and seeing how hard the rural women work was something that will stay with me forever.

How has this experience impacted your future?

I think this experience has impacted my future, not only in regards to having a the experience of volunteering abroad, but in enabling me to have a greater understanding of a different working environment, culture and alternative lifestyles. It has also given me useful knowledge of how NGOs work and how they develop their projects, funding and different initiatives. This is something that I am interested in, as I would like to work on making NGO projects more efficient in the long term, I also have many interests in education and environmental conservation; which was partly encouraged by all the natural environment I enjoyed during my travels.

This experience changed the way that I analyse aspects of development initiatives as part of my degree and has given me a more global outlook in what I would like to achieve in the long term. It has also given me a wide network of new friends and I believe the experience has been pivotal for me, in shaping some of my future goals in relation to International Development and the conceptualisation of other cultures. I now see it as much more of a reciprocal process. Personally, it has made me much more appreciative of the little things in life; I lived in a developing country under very basic conditions. But everyday I could look out of my window and see beautiful mountains and walk to work seeing smiling faces. It has definitely made me less materialistic and more conscious.

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Tell us a little about EHN and your role at the company.

Woman with a child

Wayne: EHN is like a growing child you never know what is around the next corner because one day you are working on one project and then the next something comes up and its too good to miss. Just recently we were told about Bio stoves which are excellent for people in the Mountains and next minute we are planning a test run with them.

But we do have a rough goal to work to, our aim is to create a volunteer organization as a foundation from which we can launch special projects funded by us rather than rely on charity. Projects like the mobile health clinic and response team all come from personal experience and over the next couple of years will start to become a reality and these will be projects that can save lives.

When this is achieved EHN-Nepal will then become an organization that uses what Nepal has to offer to fund programs and projects that help its people rather than expect hand outs from the outside world..

My part in this well I am the co-founder and I suppose joint head of EHN. But my work is so varied I work on advertising, talking, website, developing new ideas and generally everything that needs to be done because everyone who works with EHN has a say in what goes go. But my personal goal is to see these special projects running because there are real stories behind each one and to achieve them means that we may have a part in saving many children’s lives in Nepal. Which isn’t bad for an organization that started with a website and £200.

How did you get involved in the volunteer industry?

Wayne: My first thoughts for EHN Nepal came in 2007 when I volunteered in Nepal for the first time, I was happy with the placement, the people and the area but not so happy with how things were run by the organization who ran it. Not really knowing the system in Nepal I kept quiet and just observed how things were not being done properly etc and thought I could do better.

So after returning home I decided I would try, went back to Nepal and found its not so easy to set up because everywhere you go there are Westernized Nepali who want brides so to speak to do their work. Many have come to see foreign people as walking wallets. So I had two choices one give up and go home or two to stay work a while and meet the right people to work with.

So I stayed met my wife and several good people and studied how to work in the Nepali culture and systems without going mad (because its very different to our own). Then in 2010 Mina and I decided to return to the UK to promote EHN while Raj stayed in Nepal covering the Nepali side of the operations.

What makes EHN unique?

Wayne: We are unique in many ways I suppose because our aim is to build an organization that helps people, we don’t actually like charity because we believe that you should use the natural resources of Nepal to help its people. Saying that if organizations want to invest in charity work then EHN are the people to work with because we will provide you exact records of where your money goes and how it is spent. But many come for trekking and volunteering so its only right to use this as a way to fund our work.

Another thing that makes us unique is the passion behind our work, everyone connected to EHN has the drive to do better, help more and see our projects work. When the medical centre was finished and opened we were on such a great buzz for a week. Also the final point is this, we don’t see EHN as a business but as a hobby for helping people, I am currently based in London and I work 50 hours a week here to support myself and then an extra 20 hours min for EHN because I believe that all of the fees should go to Nepal where its needed. One day I will return there to run EHN and take a salary but it will be£2000-£3000 per year rather than £20000 a year needed in the UK.

In your experience, what characteristics make a good international volunteer?

Man lifting crops

Wayne: A good volunteer is someone who can understand that they are entering a third world country and the standards will not be the same. I have seen many volunteers when I was there before EHN was created complaining about the conditions of certain orphanages I know because they were basic. I use to say to them these are basic conditions but think where the children have come from, the streets, mountain huts and other places where life is far harder than in a home. Least where they are now its two meals a day, education and safe environment where they can at least sleep without fear of getting hurt. But what I say to may volunteers is this, don’t be afraid to try everything once, keep an open mind and have fun. You will learnas much from this experience as the people you are trying to help.

How do you ensure your programs are sustainable and mutually beneficial for you, the community, and the volunteers?

Wayne: With a lot of hard work is the only answer to this. Our personal EHN projects we are constantly working adapting and trying new ideas (if one way fails then we try another) and this is the way forward by never giving up. Its not easy to work in Nepal as many people know but things can be achieved if we are willing to adapt to the situation.

Regarding projects we support every volunteer can provide feedback and we because we donate far more than most organizations to the placements we also have a certain say in what goes on. Currently one placement wants to set up on its own because their partner organization isn’t supporting them. So we have said we can give you website support, provide more volunteers and if you find several other placements in the area then we will send them though you which will provide more support. But as with us there is a catch the standards must be kept up to ours.

EHN have actually refused to work with a number of orphanages and a monastery (my colleague was met by the head monk who was driving a range rover which in Nepal costs around £50,000 which put us off straight away) because the money clearly doesn’t go where it should. We have a duty of care to the volunteers as well as the placements.