Project Profiles - Nepal
Politics in Nepal
Thousands of former Maoist rebels stuck in camps for five years are joining the army or going home to start new lives. Long-feuding political parties have called a truce and started talks on how to restructure the country.The progress has stirred cautious optimism that this Himalayan nation — one of the world's poorest — can build on the hopes for economic development promised by the end of a brutal civil war five years ago and the abolition of the monarchy in 2008.While major hurdles remain, including the writing of a constitution, any movement is seen as significant in a country that has had five coalition governments since elections were last held in 2008.
None of our volunteers have reported being worried by the security situation in Nepal,and,provided you take sensible precautions as advised in the travel advisories issued by various governments including your own, your chances of being affected by such violent acts are very small. You are, however, likely to be inconvenienced by strikes and long power cuts.
(Updated 2 December 2011) Check our blog's geopolitical category for more background.
For up-to-date information about the security situation, you should consult the travel advisory services of your government. This is the British government's advice. You may also like to see the US State Department's travel advice.
The task of identifying schools and orphanages in genuine need of assistance is undertaken by trusted contacts, known to Jim Coleman over four decades. Only projects serving poor communities are selected for assistance.
In addition to teaching, we are looking for doctors, dentists and nurses for a clinic in the western region of Nepal.Shorter assignments of at least three weeks can be considered for these non-teaching posts.
If you would like to volunteer in Nepal, click on a region that interests you on the right.
The regions in Nepal HELP currently sends volunteers to are listed here:
Click here for opportunities in India
The School Year
Because the school years in India and Nepal differ, it is possible to teach at HELP sponsored school through the year.
In Nepal the school year normally starts at the end of April and finishes at the end of March. There are, typically, 10 days of summer holidays in June, and another 10 days of winter holiday in January (except in the Western Nepal schools). However, there are variations to this general pattern depending on the individual school.
In addition to the holidays mentioned above, the school programme in both Nepal and India is interrupted first in early October by the major annual Hindu festival of Dussehra (or 'Dasain'), and then 21 days later by the festival of lights called Diwali. These festivals add up to roughly two weeks of holiday. Therefore, at this time of year, preference is given to volunteers who can commit themselves to three months. The weather is usually wonderful in these autumn months, so the holidays provide a great opportunity to trek or travel, or to wander around and observe the many religious activities taking place.
From the schools' point of view, the best times for volunteers are from May to September, and from December to April, but other times are possible.
Kathmandu Valley (Nepal)
The Kathmandu Valley, which is the cultural and political centre of Nepal, covers an area of 360 square kilometres at an altitude of 1336 metres above sea level in central Nepal. It is home to three fabulous cities : Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, Lalitpur (or Patan), and Bhaktapur.
The valley, a roughly oval bowl measuring 24 km east-west and 19 km north-south, is encircled by a range of green terraced hills and dotted by compact clusters of red tiled-roofed houses. Most of Nepal's ethnic groups can be found there, but Newars are the indigenous inhabitants and the creators of the valley's splendid civilization.
Legend has it that the valley was once covered by a lake until the Bodhisattva Manjushri raised his sword of wisdom and sliced a passage through the mountain walls, so draining the water. Modern geology suggests that it was indeed once a lake.
The Valley has become densely populated, and Kathmandu in particular has seen rapid growth in the last three decades. Apart from the rich elite, the standard of living in Nepal is one of the lowest in the world.At present we are supporting a primary school in a picturesque village on the edge of the valley
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Western Region (Nepal)
This is an administrative region of Nepal which includes the northern zones of Dhaulagiri and Gandaki, and, in the south, the Lumbini zone. It is in this region where the famous treks to the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri mountain ranges take place, with Pokhara as the base. In the extreme north of this region lies the district of Manang where the projects we support are located.
We currently support two village schools, and,in one of these villages, a medical clinic. These are remote assignments, and require some hiking to reach them. We are looking for nurses and doctors and dentists for the clinic. Shorter assignments of not less than three weeks are accepted from medically qualified staff.
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Pokhara, with a population of around 95,000, is situated at an altitude of 827m from the sea level and 200km west of Kathmandu valley. It boasts several beautiful lakes and offers stunning panaromic views of the Annapurna mountain range including the beautiful Machapuchare (fish-tail) mountain. The city is the starting point for many popular trekking and rafting destinations.There is not much of a nightlife in Pokhara other than dining. The town shuts down by about 10:30 in the evening.
Pokhara is part of a once busy trade route linking India and Tibet. To this day, mule trains can be seen camped on the outskirts of the town, bringing goods to trade from remote regions of the Himalaya. This is the land of Magars and Gurungs, hardworking farmers who have earned worldwide fame as Gurkha soldiers in the British and Indian armies. The Thakalis, another important ethnic group here, are known for their entrepreneurship.
We currently support a school in Pokhara itself and another on the edge of the Pokhara Valley. Both schools teach all age ranges.
The climate of Pokhara is slightly warmer than Kathmandu with daytime temperature hovering around 15 degrees Celsius in winter and 35 degrees in summer. The monsoon season which lasts from mid-June to mid-September is very wet; in fact Pokhara has the highest rainfall in the country.
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