I travelled to Nepal in May 2018 with Plan My Gap Year. I have volunteered with this company twice before in Ghana and India, therefore when wanting to volunteer in Nepal, I wanted to go with a company I knew and trusted.
The support from PMGY before arriving in the country is always so responsive and puts me at ease. Any questions I have are answered so quickly and their knowledge of Nepal and the projects were reassuring. As I was already travelling Asia at the time of booking the programme, Philip assisted in booking my flights for me and advised in getting my Visa.
We were picked up at Kathmandu airport as arranged (although I have been with PMGY before this is always a scary process as I always question- will somewhere be at the airport to pick me up??). The first few days were spent exploring Kathmandu and we were given 'orientation'. We were shown around the city and learnt a lot about the local culture, history and the language. After a few days in Kathmandu we were given the opportunity to choose the project we wanted to do- you can choose to volunteer in three cities in Nepal- Pokhara, Chitwan or Kathmandu. Our coordinator called Asim explained the programmes in each city and where more help was needed. We chose to go to Pokhara as there were no volunteers here and they needed help building the children's orphanage.
Everything was quite structured and it was very clear what we were doing and what was expected from us. The project was so eye opening, we were building in the day and in the evenings playing with the children from the orphanage and helping them with any homework they had to do. As the orphanage was being built it had no running water at the time therefore for the children's to wash we would walk them to the river nearby and everyone would go for a wash and swim.
Impact wise I felt as though I was making such a difference. I felt as though our presence was needed and even though some evenings there was no homework to go through or the children didn't want to play sports, some would just want to sit and chat and attempt to improve their English. I have recently seen photos of the completed orphanage and it just makes me so proud knowing I was apart of building it.
Whilst in Nepal we wanted to do some trips and explore and our coordinator in Pokhara was so responsive when we asked to do something and very helpful in arranging things for us. Some incredible things we did that was recommended to us is; rowing the lakes in Pokhara, the Panchase trek, Chitwan national park, watching sunrise over the Annapurna mountain range- we did this on my birthday and was truly incredible!!
I felt very safe in the country and although we were staying in a home stay we always had contact with our country coordinator and he checked up on us regularly. The homestay was an incredible experience, I would highly recommend that if you get the option to choose the homestay as you learn so much about the culture and you get to immerse yourself completely into the local lifestyle. All meals were provided and cooked by the mother of the homestay, dhallbatt is what we ate regularly- the traditional veggie curry and rice. Sometime's if we felt a bit tired of dhallbatt we would buy the mother looking after us some chicken and she would cook it for us- if you're not happy with something its definitely best to act on it rather than leaving unsatisfied!
If I was to advise anyone going to Nepal with PMGY, I would say go with an open mind and be pro-active!! Read the handbook- that was so useful and be flexible when you’re there, as their culture may mean things aren’t as structured as you expect them to be.
My experience with PMGY was overall extremely positive and the support from Plan My Gap Year is amazing. The company is organised and I couldn't recommend them more. I have volunteered with PMGY three times now and I will definitely be going a fourth time!