The Umbrella Foundation

About

Ten years of civil war in Nepal has displaced tens of thousands of children. With countless children orphaned and even more trafficked and/or abandoned, Umbrella Foundation was established to rescue destitute children and give them access to education and the possability of re-integration back with thier families and communities. The Umbrella Foundation provides care for more conflict-displaced and trafficked children in the Kathmandu Valley than any other INGO and actively works to re-integrate our children back with thier families in thier native communities around Nepal.

Founded
2005
Headquarters

PO Box 3356
Thornton NSW 2322
Australia

Reviews

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Caite
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I spent about two months with Umbrella, living in the Kathmandu volunteer house on weekends and the village that was hosting me during the week. I planned and facilitated lessons and games for the local school-having the ability to choose what age groups I wanted to work with. The language barrier was more challenging that I had anticipated, and there was some pressure in preparing the students for their exams, but the Umbrella staff were amazingly supportive; providing substantial resources and open communication. I was able to learn a lot about Nepali culture and education, while refining my skills as an aspiring teacher. This having been my first time traveling alone and being away from home for an extended period, I found it difficult emotionally, but with the staff and other volunteers I felt safe, supported, and a valuable member of the organization. Volunteering with Umbrella was not only a positive experience for me, but a transformative one.

What would you improve about this program?
I would have loved to have been in touch with previous volunteers to learn about their experiences and what to expect, however that would simply be an added bonus to wonderful organization.
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Chris
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I spent just over 2 months working at The Umbrella Foundation. It was one of the most rewarding and enriching experiences of my life. The children and staff are fantastic. We had breakfast with and walked the children to school. Then we had the day to organise activities for them. We setup sporting events, participated in a women's rights day and performed for the children. We also ran the weekly pub quiz in Thamel and travelled with the children to the remoter parts of Nepal.
We also helped setup an education programme for the girls and boys.

This was a brilliant experience and one I would recommend to anyone!!!

Go, now!!!

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Emilee
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I loved volunteering at Umbrella. I fell head over heals in love with Nepal, and will be back next summer :) Mornings and Evenings were spent with the kids, who are incredible, and during the day you are free to explore the wonderful country of Nepal. This organization does a great job of exposing you to Nepali culture, as you live in an unadulterated Nepali community, complete with Nepali living arraignments, chores, and food. Still, Umbrella leaves you feeling safe while in the country, and gives you room to be a tourist, too. As far as day-to-day life goes, you eat with the kids, walk them to school, plan their activities, and help them with their homework. You are considered their di or didi (big brother or sister), and you feel like they belong to you, too. I love these kids so so so much, and am so grateful to have been a part of their lives and their family. Honestly, I can't speak highly enough of Umbrella. My summer their totally changed my life. It is wonderful. And Umbrella goes above and beyond the call of duty for these kids, in its efforts to reunite families, and give the children true homes, once again. It is an incredible place, changing the world, one kid at a time.

What would you improve about this program?
I think there could be better management at the top of umbrella in regards to staff-volunteer relationships. That said, the staff on the ground is amazing, and the kids are worth it. !10% worth it!
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Aisling
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I lived with a host family who made me feel part of the family from the very start, my host father called me his "Irish daughter"! By the end of my time volunteering at the school I could see a real difference in the English levels of some of the children, and they were all much more enthusiastic in practising their English! Apart from English classes, we had art club, played cricket and went on lovely walks with the village kids. I used to come back and spend the weekends in Kathmandu in the volunteer house and chill out, eat western food and spend time with other volunteers-a well deserved break!

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Jonny
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Apart from the awesome staff, awesome kids and the awesome other volunteers, you really get a sense of doing REAL good because you see directly where donations are going, to HELPING people - its an AMAZING programme. The reason I chose Umbrella in the first place was because they had a reputation for not swallowing all the donations in administration. I really seen this when I was there, as you could see that your donations were going to the children and they (as should be!) were the number one priority! I have raised money for other charities and will continue to do so in the future, but I have often been disappointed by the way that the money has gone to pay peoples wages rather than do any actual work for the people who need it most - that is why Umbrella is the best for me! So I'd urge anyone thinking of volunteering overseas, please consider Umbrella, you'll have the best time and you'll be doing a whole lot of GOOD!

What would you improve about this program?
I really have nothing bad to say about it, I loved every minute of every day - sometimes things are tough, but the Nepali people are so friendly and the staff are so kind, that I never once found myself criticising the programme or the way it was run! I would hope they could get MORE donations to help, but thats true for all programs I guess!!!

Programs

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Alumni Interviews

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

Aideen Robbins

Aideen Robbins from Ireland, currently living and working in London as a Maths teacher. She loves most sports, especially rugby. She volunteered with the Umbrella Foundation from Jan–April 2012 and looking forward to going back on 20th Feb for five more months.
Woman volunteering with girls in Nepal

Why did you decide to volunteer with The Umbrella Foundation in Nepal?

Aideen: The reason I decided to volunteer with the Umbrella Foundation was completely by chance. I am a secondary maths teacher and I was volunteering in the Maldives. My year in the Maldives was coming to an end and I was looking for another volunteer opportunity but not just teaching and for a shorter time. I saw a documentary on Aljazeera news about children in Nepal and the Umbrella Foundation was featured. I contacted the organisation the next day and booked my flights within a week.

Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.

Aideen: Umbrella currently cares for over one hundred and thirty children in five different homes in the suburb of Swoyambhu in Kathmandu. During the civil war in Nepal these children were orphaned, displaced from their families or abandoned.

I was assigned to one of the homes with 35 girls between the ages of eleven and sixteen. I have been working as a secondary teacher for the last six years and when I heard that 35 teenage girls were living under the same roof I was really interested to see how that worked. As soon as walked into the home I was giving an extremely warm welcome. All the girls treat each other like sisters and they are really dedicated to working together in the home. From getting ready for school to meal times in the evening everything in the house just amazingly works like clockwork and is run with the kind of precision and ease that most households I know dream of.

As you can imagine no two days were the same but each one was as enjoyable as the other. My role varied each day. On school days I would walk the children to school and help with homework in the evening and basically make myself useful around the Umbrella complex during school hours. Saturdays and holidays are when Umbrella really comes alive and volunteers have the opportunity to plan and carry out different activities with the children including sports of all types, arts and crafts, dance, music, reading and trips.

The Umbrella Foundation has also successfully reintegrated over 130 children to date and are continuing to support them through education and living allowances. I got to spend a couple of weeks in the stunning district of Rasuwa, helping the teachers of the school in Gatlang village. This village is where some of the Umbrella children have been recently reunited with their families. Entering Gatlang is like stepping back in time to a small farming community.

The welcome you get when you are there is overwhelming and it is pretty special to see the children back where they belong and happy with their own families. Unfortunately the level of education these schools are able to provide is limited due to the lack of training for teachers and facilities they can provide for their students. The teachers are however still very enthusiastic and showed up everyday when we provided them with some training during their days off.

Woman with football team

What made this experience unique and special?

Aideen: There were far too many highlights from my time in Nepal to mention them all but here are just a few - the food (amazing dhal bhat), the welcoming people, out of this world scenery, picnics, crazy bus journeys, football tournaments, laughing yoga, being introduced to the world of Nepali TV, crazy monkeys, beautiful Temples/ Stupa’s, festivals, momo parties and most enjoyable of all, buckets and buckets of laughter provided everyday by the children at the Umbrella Foundation!

The Umbrella Foundation really is a very special organization. The children in their care are now healthy, happy and well-adjusted. They have been given a new lease of life. For the first time in their lives they can now begin to dream of a better future for themselves and their families. It is run like one big family. Unfortunately Umbrella does not receive any government funding and relies totally on the generosity of others and the volunteers who give up their time to volunteer with them.

How has this experience impacted your future?

Aideen: The three months I spent there went far too fast. I am returning to Nepal and Umbrella in one week and this time I’m going to stay for five months!!!