Volunteer in Nepal
Only projects serving poor communities are selected for assistance. We steer clear of major tourist centres which are over-run with so-called ‘voluntourists’.
Geo-politics in Nepal
The recent earthquakes in Nepal have caused extensive damage throughout Nepal, not only in Kathmandu and Pokhara, the main cities, but in the countryside where whole villages have been destroyed. HELP is not a disaster relief agency, but this is a tragedy we couldn’t ignore since we send volunteers to schools in villages that have been badly affected. We recently raised £5,000 which is being spent on temporary shelters, food and utensils so that villagers made homeless can stay in their villages. For tourists things are returning to normal, and the advice from from governments’ advisory services is that most areas of Nepal are now safe to visit.
After nearly a decade of wrangling, The Nepalese parliament has finally voted for a new constitution. Although there is some unrest from communities that feel they may lose out, this historic agreement will, hopefully, lead to a reduction in strikes and protests on the streets in the long term.
(Updated 14th August 2015) Check geopolitical news for more background.
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.
To volunteer in Nepal, click on a region that interests you under “Locations”.
The School Year
Because the school years in India and Nepal differ, it is possible to teach at a 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 is one of the low school, and the other a secondary school with a primary section, both located in a picturesque village on the edge of the valley.
Western Region – Dhawalagiri and Gandaki Zones (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 three 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.
Pokhara Valley (Nepal)
Pokhara is situated at an altitude of 827m from the sea level and 200km west of Kathmandu valley. It is the principal city of Nepal’s Western Region with a population of around 100,000. 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.