My Global Volunteer experience in Kathmandu ranks very high when I consider all of my GLOBAL VOLUNTEERS experiences, literally high in altitude, high in making dear friends, high in believing we made a difference, and high in the pure joy of being in this beautiful country with these beautiful people. My new friend Jenny, a young woman relatively new to the GLOBAL VOLUNTEERS experience, and I became the “Jenny and Fran show”. That’s what happens when one finds a soul mate among our Global Volunteers. Jenny’s enthusiasm made each day a delight. We could feel it and see it in the faces of the women and the students with whom we shared our time.
Our first week was spent at the Soroptimist Center helping women speak and understand English. The term Soroptimist comes from the Latin soror meaning sister, and optima meaning best (the best for women). We Global Volunteers joined in that quest of providing the best for women. The tears of joy we saw on the faces of these women touched our hearts. They grew more comfortable with the language as the week progressed. There are always small miraculous experiences on my GLOBAL VOLUNTEERS adventures, but in Kathmandu we experienced a plan that was meant to come together. “I love it when a plan comes together.” Our local miracle man, Ps Buddhi Man Shrestha, was aware of a book to assist in our English language lessons, but it was prohibitively expensive coming all the way from the United Kingdom. A little exploration by Fran and Jenny discovered the books were actually published in Kathmandu. Suddenly the books became accessible. The team of our volunteers, our GLOBAL VOLUNTEERS leader Stephen Raj, and our local Nepalese Buddhi Man made it all happen. The excitement upon receiving the little books in the small classroom was palpable. Global Volunteers do make a difference.
Jenny and I celebrated the Teej holiday at the Soroptimist center with Soroptimist leaders and the women in our classes. Teej is the fasting and celebrating festival of women in Nepal. It usually takes place in the month of Nepali Bhadra (August to September in Solar Calendar). We ate and danced with joy. Sharing in their special holiday is sharing love and peace. One of the joys of volunteering is becoming a part of the communities we serve. To join in daily life, in special occasions, and in making their lives better, as well as learning more about the country and its people is amazing. Yet, anything we give seems to be returned in abundance to those of us who are Global Volunteers.
For the second week, we took our “show” to St. Joseph’s School and once again the experience touched us. Our discussion in English with tenth “graders” about pollution was amazing. What thoughtful and articulate young people. Yet, it was only one of many experiences we volunteered teaching in the classrooms. It was so very gratifying to spend the time with them. And all of our time, we knew we were making a difference to those who call Kathmandu home. The principal Dambar Singh KC expressed his gratitude to Jenny and me for our time at his school, but I know that while we touched the lives of so many students, we gained so much more.
My time in Nepal is but one chapter of my Global Volunteer book of experiences. Whether I recall my times in India, the Cook Islands, St. Lucia, Poland, Hanoi, or Tanzania, recalling my weeks in Kathmandu still causes my heart to leap, my joy to rise, and my love for volunteering to grow.