Child Care, Sports Coaching and Teaching - Volunteer Reviews

NEPAL

Read what our volunteers say about their time volunteering

Find out more about volunteering in Nepal

Pam, Child Care - 2019

“I spent two weeks helping in a nursery in Pokhara and loved it. There were 17 children in this year’s group, all about two and a half (they start school at three). We spent the day with a mix of free play, constructive play (nursery rhymes in Nepalese and English, counting games, colouring, story telling) and some direct teaching on a variety of topics such as hygiene and different animals and the way they lived. We danced, sang and enjoyed ourselves. They had a very simple lunch (rice and lentils/ eggs/ bread and milk) and then (the most challenging!) settled them for a sleep.

I stayed in a Homestay run by a lovely American couple and was fortunate enough to have my contact, Janice, living next door. I found the cold water (I went to Nepal in February) challenging but I survived!

Pokhara is fascinating with its busy, noisy teeming life in the foreground and the wonderful Annapurnas in the background. Highlights, apart from the children, was the climb to The Stupa (boat across the lake then through the wooded hillside to the beautiful Peace Pagoda) and the early morning trip to Sarangkot to see the sun rise over the mountains.

Don’t go expecting to ‘give’ - go expecting to learn. The Nepalese have a lot to teach us in terms of patience and enjoying life despite physical challenges

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?

Remember that the children in the nursery are very young. They can speak very little in English and you will need to be very hands on with toileting etc. They will want to climb all over you and prod and poke you like all toddlers. Take PLAIN paper - it’s by far the most useful and very simple picture books that can be read in English by you and then translated as you go by the teachers. Enjoy."

Frido, Teaching - 2019

“Since I am also a teacher in Germany, but for adults, I was interested in teaching English and art at a village school in Nepal. So I moved to Pokhara for two months. The small school with 85 students is located on a mountain that you have to climb every day, and is practically not equipped at all. Only sometimes they had electricity, no windows, no electric light, five small dark classrooms with wooden benches and a whiteboard and a marker as the only teaching materials. The teachers teach with memorization and then recite, the school seems like it’s fallen out of time. But it helps to remember that also in Europe the children were beaten at school only fifty years ago so judging or even condemning does not help here at all. And changes take time.

At some point it was possible for me to talk to the students so far that they understood me in English (I cannot speak Nepali), it was a huge success. And some have started talking to me in English in recent weeks and told me stories, this was an even bigger success. I was fortunate enough to teach my own class for up to four lessons a day.

Since it was a governmental school, there were only very poor children or children from an orphanage. Everybody who has even a little money, sends his children to one of the many private schools. In contrast to the governmental schools, which are free, private schools cost a lot of money. There is hardly any teaching material for the governmental schools, and the English booklets, of which only every second child has one, are filled out in lead pencil to delete later or are filled out not at all, so that the booklets can be used for two more years.

So I've often bought educational materials for the children in Pokhara, notebooks and also coloured pencils. It took a while for the children to paint with them, they were only used to pencils in black and white. They gave me many of their pictures, which I took with me to Europe.

Sometimes it is very frustrating when you have everything prepared and at the last moment everything is thrown overboard by this chaotic school. But if you understand that change takes time, and small successes can be great, if they last, I think you can have a very nice and satisfying time like I had."

Suki, Child Care - 2018

“Volunteering for the first time is no easy decision so you need all the help you can get and research to choose the right company, country and project to volunteer with. The process was easy with POD once the prior research was done. Choosing a non-profit organisation was also important. My placement in Nepal was an amazing experience - made amazing by the people and children around me. Firstly, the children full of energy and excitement made the experience so rewarding, even after a month, I felt I could have carried on for another month or so. I am so glad I changed my mind from a 2 week placement to 4 weeks. I would say 2 weeks is not enough - but obviously not everyone can offer more time. Whether it is 2 weeks or 2 months, the children still get attached to you and still learn from you. There are of course challenges like resources, classroom environment - dark and when it rained leaks in the roof, language barrier. So you need to be prepared for that and come with patience and an open relaxed mind. That is the reality but then that shouldn’t be a surprise as that is the environment and why these projects need help. Anyone considering volunteering I would say don’t think too much, just make the decision to give it a go and research well to get the right placement for you and get the rewarding feeling at the end like I did! Good luck.

What did you find most rewarding?

That as the days and weeks went by the children were learning what I was teaching and the teachers were learning too and using some of the techniques. When I said goodbye at the end the children gave such a rewarding goodbye.

What did you find most challenging?

The teaching is so different and repetitive vs the teaching you know so you have to have a lot of patience to work through this. A lot of patience needed with the children as in the class the age gap is wide.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?

To just do it. They will really enjoy it if they come with open mind, relaxed attitude, come prepared with creative ideas to teach and bring lots of stickers, colouring books and learning support."

Eliza, Child Care - 2018

"Janice was amazing! Volunteering in Nepal was the most wonderful, bizarre and amazing experience of my life. The children I worked with were so lovely and kind and very polite, even with the language barrier. I found that both myself and the kids worked really well together as it was clear that all parties were fully involved and determined to try. Some aspects of the child care placement were of course challenging, but in the best and most rewarding way. Pokhara is a beautiful place and the local team were amazing at looking after me. I’d love to go back one day.

What did you find most rewarding?

Using the flash cards I’d bought in class and tutoring kids one to one.

What did you find most challenging?

The language barrier

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?

I would say bring loads of resources (or as many as you can) because the school does not have much. I’d advise bringing story books, stickers, flash cards etc!

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?

They seemed the most ethical organisation I had researched in"

Sabina, Child Care - 2018

The placements were great fun! The children need constant attention, interaction and desperately want to learn/create/play. They were all truly amazing. It's hard work because you want to give them so much and you only have a certain amount of time. I would recommend to anyone going to have a few tricks up your sleeve. Some easy competitions are great for street kids such a skittles, juggling balls and targets. As well creative activities - we made dream catchers, origami and paper hats.

The school as no clear curriculum and although I went as child care support I was asked to teach the classroom. Be prepared for this!! Have some simple yet fun maths and english lessons at the ready. Also time telling. It's pretty spontaneous and there is a lot of stuff to carry so bring a good rucksack with you to bring supplies from place to place.

Nepal is a wonderful country and has an amazing people. They are incredibly welcoming and beyond humble. On my last day at school I was given a blessing by the school teacher Tika who said ‘I have nothing to give you but friendship’ and that will always stick with me.

Friendship is something they all genuinely offer. Every one is incredibly kind and it's such a privilege. There are so many things to eat and do on your time off too. You won't be disappointed.

What did you find most rewarding?

Seeing how eager these children were to learn. They all have the greatest imagination and are so curious. Being able to encourage and support this was incredible.

What did you find most challenging?

The schedule changed quite a lot but was already briefed on this so wasn't a massive shock!

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?

Do it!

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?

My main concern was ‘will I be able to make a difference?’, so I spent time researching volunteer companies and stumbled cross POD – I liked their ethics, they seemed thorough in regards to their chosen placements and also with the safety of the children I would be working with."

Rachel, Teaching - 2017

Volunteering in Nepal was incredibly worthwhile, both for myself and for the children and staff that benefited from our placements. I was very impressed with the straight forward application process, with information booklets that clearly laid out everything that could be expected from a volunteer teaching placement. The POD staff members, both in the UK and Nepal, were extremely helpful, always available and incredibly friendly.

Since returning to the UK, lots of people have asked what my favourite part has been. However, it's too difficult a question! I loved teaching in Prabhat primary school, the kids were so excited to see us and engaged in our lessons brilliantly. On the occasions were festivals/holidays occurred there were other schools to visit and I enjoyed a visit to the Nursery school as well as the secondary school to do some sports coaching. Janice, Bindu and Julia are the most fabulous hosts and only go to make the whole experience even better - sari nights, Nepalese meals and fabulous conversations.

What did you find most rewarding?

The learning that went on in Prabhat school - although we're only there for a short time I know I made little steps to Class 1 recognising their colours, Class 2 learning parts of their body Class 4 and 5 learning a few traditional tales and most of the school knowing 'If you're happy and you know it!'

What did you find most challenging?

Teaching verbs/adjectives with few resources!

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?

Go for it! Pokhara is a lovely place to be based, Janice is an incredible source of information and can sort anything out for you. Be flexible - there are changes that take place to the normal everyday timetable but Janice will always sort a visit out to a placement so you are doing something each day. Pack in a couple of games so you have something new to take along.

Helen, Child Care - 2017

"I will look back fondly on my two weeks in Nepal with Pod for as long as I live. As I sit here and think about it now, the images that spring to mind are: laughing more in two weeks than I have in two years, making connections with pupils and teachers at our primary school, making friends for life in the other volunteers and being really excited to see the kids every day, the beautiful city

of Pokhara, the warmth of Janice's family, sari night, Bindu's cooking, teaching the time to class 2.

This was one of the best experiences of my life.

What did you find most rewarding?

Being with the children and seeing them light up when we arrived and - after what felt like hours of trying - seeing kids in our school remember something we'd taught them and apply it to a different scenario; even in just two weeks with one or two hours a day with each class you can see some progress in their learning.

Also, connecting with a culture so different to the one I live in and not just learning about it, but being welcomed in to it. Bindu, Janice and Julia will treat you like one of their family.

What did you find most challenging?

I suppose plucking ideas out of the air for lessons with limited resources. If you're a teacher, or just if you have plenty of ideas, take some things along with you such as flashcards or worksheets. There are a few things already there but it's easier if you've got a few things together before you go. If I went again I would get in touch with Janice to see what's available and bring things like mini whiteboards and mini clocks from my school. There wasn't really much else that was challenging - other than marrying in my head the time spent with the children who essentially don't have much, and spending time in nice restaurants with the other volunteers; it's a bit like living in two different worlds simultaneously!

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?

Do it. And be prepared to get stuck in to everything. Say yes to everything and get out and be useful. Even if you're having a bad day or wondering why you went, plaster a smile on your face and go and have fun with the kids; it'll make a difference to them."

Rachel, Sports Coaching and Child Care - 2017

“I had an amazing experience, the living conditions and life in Nepal was better than I expected. It's definitely worth the trip if you are looking to change your life in certain ways. It's an eye opening experience and the warmth you get from helping these kids from adults and from the kids is incredible.

What did you find most rewarding?

I found how it impacted myself was most rewarding as well as the smiles on the kids faces when teaching them.

What did you find most challenging?

I think the language barrier was a little challenging however it was sometimes easy to read what they were trying to say by expression.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?

I think go in with no expectations and this placement will be one of the best experiences you've had.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?

I chose POD because two of my friends have been through POD and completed placements in Thailand I knew how good POD was for them and that it is a genuine charity company"

Alexei, Teaching - 2017

"What did you find most rewarding?

The relationships that you build with the children and seeing them learn the things you are teaching them over the (relatively) short time you are there for.

What did you find most challenging?

The language barrier between us and the kids. Although some teachers do know a fair amount of English and can translate for you, be prepared for days that the teacher may be off work.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?

Get stuck into the placements and culture and really try to connect and have fun with the kids. And try to attend every placement as each one counts and you never know when the school may be doing something special (such as a festival celebration) that you may miss out on otherwise!"

Steve, Sports Coaching and Child Care - 2017

“All very positive. Sports was difficult at this time of year due to the weather and facilities/equipment were even more basic than expected. This was why I chose to spend additional time supporting with childcare.

Just back from a Childcare and Sport placement in Pokhara, Nepal. Had an amazing time working with children who were so positive and receptive to the volunteers. Loved singing nursery rhymes, being a climbing frame and helping children develop their English. The enthusiasm of the children is infections the staff were keen for our help. The support from Pod before traveling and then from Janice in Nepal was great. We worked hard but the free time enabled us to explore the culture, go paragliding or white-water rafting etc. as well as having some downtime in the evenings. If you are thinking about it, do it, you will love it."

Tizia, Child Care - 2017

“I think this experience was one of the most beautiful in my life. It was a last minute decision, and I am delighted. The entire Pod Volunteer team was present from start to finish and is still present today. I spent magical moments with the kids and discovered new things. During the weekend I could visit and do many famous activities in Nepal. I left 4 weeks, and they passed extremely fast. Saying goodbye was the hardest part of my trip, but my last day was one of the most beautiful in my life and one of the most touching. I think it is an experience to live once in his life, and I advise it to everyone.

What did you find most rewarding?

The most rewarding was simply the moments spent with the children. I found it very gratifying to have seen the progress in mathematics of children in the morning at school. In a very short time very clear progress was visible, it was incredible and so rewarding! To see the children and teachers of my departure made me realize the importance that my presence had for them.

What did you find most challenging?

I think what was the most difficult was to spend my first week as the only volunteer. It was not always easy to be alone with the children and especially to have no one to share my day. The language barrier was also a challenge. Everyone speaks Nepali and it is often complicated at the beginning.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?

Enjoy every day, time passes so fast. And even if you do not see the impact your coming has, she has. It's so important for children to have you. I did realize how extraordinary this experience was and the effect it had on me only the day of my departure."

Joe, Sports Coaching - 2016

“I would definitely recommend this type of experience to anyone. Especially younger people currently deciding on what they want to do in the future. It is the perfect opportunity to try something new and make a huge impact on wonderful people. It offers you the opportunity to experience a whole new country and encourage you to embrace independence and will live with you for the rest of your life.

What did you find most rewarding?

Seeing the kids smile and know you were making a positive impact on their day and hopefully their future.

What did you find most challenging?

Grasping the language. They generally spoke very good English but it was an interesting challenge trying to grasp the Nepali language and put it to use.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?

Make sure you are fully aware of the role you will be taking on and be aware of the laid back attitudes to organisation in the country in terms of placements, you may end up spending some days doing very little.”

Tiphaine, Teaching - 2016

“I went to Nepal to volunteer in the teaching project for 14 weeks and taught english to the girls at the women’s refuge. Volunteering at the women’s refuge was a delightful experience during which I got to meet and get to know a wonderful group of girls. At first they were a bit shy but as the lessons progressed they opened up and, whatever their level of english was, we had many fascinating conversations. Near the end of my stay, we went for a boating trip, as requested repeatedly by the girls, which was a lot of fun and got them out of the classroom for one day. For lesson planning, I was left to my own devise and to do whatever I wanted. I chose to teach by themes and got the girls to give me ideas on themes that they wanted to discuss during our classes. I would definitely recommend planning lessons ahead of classes and for a few days so that you don't spend your free time planning instead of visiting Pokhara or just relaxing.

One of the most helpful aspects of the project in Nepal is to have Janice there to help us from the beginning all the way to the end. She helps with the language barriers that you may encounter, with going around the city and overall making sure you are having a great time. Living with her family is also a wonderful experience as they are some of the loveliest women I have ever met. They make you feel at home and part of the family.

This was my first time as a volunteer abroad and for an extended period of time, but it will definitely not be the last time. The project in Nepal has motivated me to keep volunteering in the future and as much as I can.

What did you find most rewarding?

The most rewarding part of my project was the relationships that I build there, especially with the girls I was teaching. At first they were very shy with me but after a week or two they opened up to me and we got to have many wonderful discussions about many subjects.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?

After extensive research on many different volunteering organisations I found POD through a "the Guardian" ranking of the "top 10 volunteering trips". I checked out all of the organisations mentioned and POD was the organisation that seemed the most trustworthy and the volunteer reviews definitely helped with my decision."

Ryan, Teaching - 2016

“I was in Nepal for 6 weeks, spending 5 weeks at the secondary school teaching English. It was amazing experience from start to finish, to see how little the children have, the few resources the teachers have to use, it was an eye opener to say the least. Despite this, both the children and the adults are always up beat and very pleasant. This was my first time volunteering abroad, but definitely not my last. The opportunity to experience the culture, meet new people and help those who need it is hard to beat. Just by playing and socialising with the children, you are making a difference. Janice, the volunteer coordinator is an amazing person and staying with her family made the whole experience very enjoyable. I'm already planning on going back!

What did you find most rewarding?

Meeting, working and socialising with the children. It was also amazing to see the different sides of Nepalese culture and how much it differs from our own.

What did you find most challenging?

Probably the language barrier, trying to teach a large group of children basic English and then having the teacher translate what you are teaching can be very confusing, but it's all part of the challenge! Also the climate, when you are use to the Irish weather it can be quite testing!

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?

Nepal is a great country full of opportunities for volunteers to help children/adults who aren't as fortunate as ourselves. It's a brilliant opportunity to experience such an amazing culture and offer your help to people who need it.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?

After looking online at different organisations, I found Pod Volunteer's website very helpful and the reviews from previous volunteers encouraged me to enquiry more. After contacting Pod about volunteering I knew I was in safe hands."

Deborah, Child Care - 2016

“I have been two weeks in Nepal as a volunteer for Child Care, but I wish I could have stayed longer, I even contacted my boss to extend it for another week, but it was not possible.

Overall Nepali people are fantastic; the children from the projects are too cute and the teachers I was working with are really good ones. In the mornings I went to the nursery where the little ones, around 3 years old, are there for 3-4 hours every morning, so their parents can go to work. Then in the afternoon I used to go to a community project to play with thekids, teach them new sports or art activities, whichever skill you have just show it! This is my first time as a volunteer abroad, but it will not be the last one, now I want at least once per year do some volunteer. The timetables for the projects give you also time for you to explore the city and meet new people. Pokhara is a great place where to stay, there are so many activities to do and people from around all the world. I even learnt some Nepali as well. Janice, the volunteer coordinator is great and staying with her family gives you the opportunity to meet local people.

My advice is that you stay longer than two weeks and enjoy every minute of every day as I did.

What did you find most rewarding?

The first days at the nursery some of the kids cried when their parents left them at the school, maybe for 10 mins, but in my last week I could see how all kids were so happy to see me every morning and they did not cry any more.

What did you find most challenging?

Everything was very smooth and pleasant, maybe because I wasn't there for too long I didn't find any challenge.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?

Learn a few words in Nepali, they are so happy to see us trying to speak a little bit. And also there are many projects in Nepal which need help from us, so get involved as much as you can.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?

Because of the good reviews from other volunteers, from other well known sources, such as rewards. And because I could only take two weeks from work, so it's good for short projects (although you regret later to not staying longer)"

Egle, Child Care - 2015

"I've been wanting to volunteer for a very long time but somehow I always found excuses not to do it. Until one day I said enough is enough and accidentally stumbled upon Pod's website. The reviews and the support network on the website seemed incredible and the placement fee reasonable, so I decided to give it a go. And it's one of the best decisions I ever made. The arrangements for the placement both in UK and Nepal are really well executed. Of course, as on all big journeys there are some unexpected challenges and difficulties, but all the time I was there I felt safe in the hands of Pod and knew whatever obstacles came my way, I'll be able to overcome it with the help of Pod and volunteer coordinator in Nepal, Janice. A big thank you to all of you.

So if you're a first time volunteer and going to a strange country alone, like I was and you're feeling a bit nervous and unsure, I urge you not to be afraid and give it a try with Pod. Based on my experience, it's an organisation you can trust.

What did you find most rewarding? Working with kids was very rewarding. I was able to see different sides of Nepalese culture and educational system.

What did you find most challenging? To see and accept the level of poverty and how little the kids have and how humble they are at the same time. Also I was quite shocked that there aren't separate schools for children with special needs and how they don't get the attention they deserve.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement? Try and come prepared, kids like to be entertained but they are not fussy at all. They enjoy playing games and learning new things. So make sure you bring loads of energy and enthusiasm!

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer? I chose Pod because based on their website and reviews from other volunteers, it seemed like a very trustworthy and reliable organisation. I was a nervous first time volunteer and I wanted to go with the organisation that I felt safe.”

Katie, Teaching - 2014

“I had a fantastic time in Nepal. When we arrived I immediately felt looked after and safe. Sarah was there to greet us in Pokhara and showed us around the town as well as giving us an induction on what we should expect at our placements.

My placement was really interesting, I was teaching English to nursery and class 1 and 2 at Shree Krishna School. The school had basic facilities so it was helpful to have prepared some activities and resources to bring, such as flash-cards and games. The teachers were friendly and keen to improve their own English with me. A highlight of my time there was during the Women's Festival, the school had a day of celebration where we danced, sang and ate delicious food that the teachers had prepared!

On the weekends we were able to go on trips and explore Nepal. One weekend we went on a trek to Poon Hill which was a great experience, I found it extremely physically challenging but definitely worth it for the views and to see more of the beautiful country! Another weekend we went to Chitwan National Park where we saw rhinos and crocodiles! It was a really nice way to spend a weekend! I would also really recommend Paragliding, which is a popular activity to do in Pokhara. The views were outstanding!

How would you describe a typical day teaching in Nepal?

School started at 10. Would start by taking groups of students from class 1 to the library for about 10/15 minute sessions on basic reading and writing. Would then do the same with class 2. After lunch I went to the nursery class where we played games, practiced the alphabet and numbers, sung songs and did some arts and crafts. School ends at 3.

What did you find most rewarding?

Seeing the progress in just 4 weeks by some of the students. (Particularly in the smaller groups that I took out the library - which I found an effective way of teaching as the students benefited from more one-on-one English practice.)

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?

Make sure you come prepared with some ideas of what to teach as well as resources as it is nice for the children to have access to resources that they would not usually get on a day to day basis such as arts and crafts materials and games.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?

Teaching English to children who are disadvantaged abroad is very rewarding. It is also extremely important and helpful for them because tourism is a big source of income and therefore being able to communicate in English will benefit them financially."

Kim, Teaching and Child Care - 2013

"I spent three weeks volunteering in Nepal and I can honestly say it was one of the most rewarding and interesting things I've ever done. In the mornings, I was teaching English at SOS Bahini, a centre for girls who were at risk of being sex trafficked. Given what some of the girls had been through, I was a little apprehensive that they might be very vulnerable and I wasn't sure how I should approach them. My fears were unfounded, however as the girls were an absolute delight to work with and despite what some of them had been through, they were no different from any other teenage girls. I found that I was able to quickly build up good relationships with them. As well as teaching them English, they also taught me many fun games and a great deal about Nepali culture. It still amazes me how Nepali children can come up with amazing games and entertain themselves with so little - even a pad of paper and some crayons can keep them busy for hours! Aside from the volunteering, I was lucky to meet some wonderful people amongst the other volunteers and I have made some good friends. Despite differing ages, nationalities and social backgrounds, we all had the same things in common - our love of travelling and our desire to help people less fortunate than ourselves and it is these things that helped us all bond. We also had the opportunity to be tourists - one weekend, a group of us went paragliding one day and the next day, visited a Tibetan village. Bindu and her family were the perfect hosts and welcomed us into their lovely home as if we were lifelong friends. We all had fun on momo night (we all tried our hands at making the Nepali dumplings, mine weren't great though!) and sari night where we all got dressed up in Bindu's saris and took lots of pictures! For anyone who is considering doing this, I would say - do it. It is such an amazing thing to have done, the kids are fun, fantastic and cheeky and make you rediscover your own inner child! It is also the perfect opportunity to meet some wonderful people, not just the other volunteers but the amazingly warm and welcoming Nepali locals who make you feel like part of their family. I spent a total of five weeks in Nepal and I didn't want to leave - I'm already planning my next trip back as I miss Pokhara so much - I think I've found my spiritual home.

What did you find most rewarding?

It's hard to think of one thing as the whole experience was so rewarding - the way that the children enjoyed the simplest things and how they could make games out of practically nothing; how cheeky they are; how enthusiastic they are about everything!

What did you find most challenging?

I would say the way you have to almost overlook what some of the children have been through - some of them have been through some pretty awful things but you have to not think about that in order to just treat them the same as any other kid - they don't see themselves as victims and neither should you. That's pretty challenging.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?

Leave all your Western ideals at home and just go with the flow. Things happen in Nepali time, which is any time really! Our motto on the placement was "play it by ear" - things happen when they happen and there's no point getting stressed if the bus was supposed to turn up an hour ago and it isn't here yet - just grab a coke and sit back and enjoy the sunshine!

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?

It really humbles you and makes you realise that the silly things we worry about at home really aren't important at all - at the end of the day, if you have your health and good friends, nothing else really matters. It's good to challenge yourself and get yourself out of your comfort zone.”

Sariya - 2013

“I had an amazing experience in which I was actually able to change some things for the better, like the way English was taught at the child care center, as well as the quality of the learning-through-play. I've travelled all over the place but this was by far the best way to actually experience a new country.

What did you find most rewarding?

When the children I was taking care of would scream "P for Papaya, A for Apple..." after I taught them the alphabet. And the children not letting go of my leg on the last day."

Brydie - 2012

“Even though I had this volunteering experience organised for about 5 months before I left, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I am a fairly quiet person and had never actually taught a class before. But there was no need to worry about a thing. I was surrounded by like-minded volunteers and also had so much support from Chrissy. Even though I didn't have any really negative experiences, it was nice to have Chrissy always checking up on me and everyone else! The streets were mental and everything was quite dysfunctional, but the Nepali people were so funny and friendly that it was easy to get used to their way of life. Nepal's culture means quite a few strike days and festivals, and on these days there was always something to do or otherwise chill out and do nothing all day at Bindu's!! I loved living at the guesthouse with Bindu, Janice and Julia, who were so hospitable, fun and lovely that I felt completely at home straight away.

What did you find most rewarding?

Even though the teaching placement was a fairly challenging environment (the 5 year olds were the scariest), it was an amazing feeling when I settled in, with the classes actually engaging with my lessons and thinking about how to answer my questions instead of yelling out something crazy ("What do we call a baby cow?" ... "A PUPPY!").

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?

When you get to your placement, have a rewards system and your lessons planned out. You are only there for a short time really, so you need to be prepared and get a start on things!

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?

It really is a character building experience which is also very rewarding."

Jean - 2012

“The initial experience on arrival is a huge culture shock, and one which takes some days to accustom to, if at all. It really makes you evaluate what is important in life, from both the material and emotional viewpoint. The Nepalese people are so welcoming and friendly, and the fact that you actually stay in a family environment is a huge support. Plus the support given from Chrissy is invaluable, and, from the other volunteers. Be honest to admit your own feelings of vulnerability, and the need for verbal and emotional support. Whatever you are able to give to the project you are assigned to, you will be repaid tenfold, in affection and life experience. Don't think 'should I?', think, 'I will'. No regrets.

After a brain rattling trip on the local bus, the arrival at school is always greeted with smiles and cries of 'Hello'. Be prepared for changes in timetable, due to staff or child absence. Always have a 'magic bag' which contains items to introduce the planned activity, and replacements if the idea just doesn't work, due to lack of understanding and communication. Any small degree of understanding is a major achievement, don't aim too high, the bar can always be moved, in a positive direction.

What did you find most rewarding?

The warmth of the children, their response to your input, their sheer delight at new activities.

What did you find most challenging?

The culture shock, the heat, the food, but all could be overcome.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?

Go into this with an open mind, don't think you are going to become a crusader, and change the world. Any small input that you can make is worthwhile, and the memories are invaluable.”

Roland - 2012

“What did you find most rewarding?

The extra workshops at Shree Krishna, especially Salsa, were fantastic and my teaching highlight. These were activities where demand was high, even though the students stayed voluntarily after school. That's the best way to see that they actually like what you're doing! In general, it's very rewarding to see the students going full throttle in what you planned for them, no matter if it's singing or a group work to present to the class how to build a kite. The higher grades students sometimes came to me after the lesson and said a simple "Thank you" or "This lesson was very interesting". Made my day. Knowing that my work is appreciated not only admittedly flattered my ego, but also helped me to relax, as I tend to be quite critical about my work. The good connection with the other volunteers was good fun and an important part of the experience as well! Go go, rafting team!

Rowdy classes, same-day notices about strikes, monsoon rain five days the week, power cuts JUST when you needed to print that crucial piece of lesson content before school ... Nepal comes with plenty of ideas to turn you into a more flexible person. After all, nobody else around you is irritated, so go with the local way or find your own. Satisfaction follows when the same noisy classes enthusiastically participate in your new songs, when you fill that strike day with a trip to the World Peace Stupa, when you realize how much fun exactly an automatic umbrella can be for your beloved kids and when you improvise that lesson with some vocabulary Bingo, much to the delight of the students. Pokhara itself offers enough urban background to cater for all your needs and Bindu's guesthouse is an accommodation to stay in comfortably. It's the placement that gets you attached, challenges and moves you. "Best teacher!" shouts from a student, concerned faces because grade 9 can't participate in your Salsa course due to exams overlap, laughter and puzzled looks as you do the "Wind the bobbin up" and twist your arms. These are memories, which you won't forget. The other volunteers were super-friendly and good company. It was also exciting to see how they coped with their challenges, especially when you can see them grow or you overcome an obstacle together. You learn (about) yourself in the process, too. In general, you can learn quite a lot, especially when staying longer. I can't actually say if I had more impact on the life of the students or if they had more impact on mine! Aside from the remarkable experiences during your volunteering time, don't forget to take some time off for pleasure. Nepal is a beautiful place and you'll WANT to go rafting. Or canyoning. Or exploring bat caves. Or bungee jumping. Or hiking. Or visiting beautiful villages with impressive mountain scenery. Or all of it, and more!

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?

You'll be most satisfied if you can make a lot of impact and will be remembered well. Four concrete tips: 1) Sing a lot! Grades 1-6 (didn't teach the others) love songs, especially those with physical activities combined. 2) Offer extra activities! Good lessons are what the school needs, but fun side events are what the students want! Dance classes are highly in demand. Generally, offer something they don't use to have access to! They don't have art classes in school, no music class either. Just giving them paper can excite them. Feed their curiosity and relay your skills to them. Can you play an instrument? Consider bringing it, e.g. twice a week for a singing group. I did a computer course, which will be continued by the teachers. 3) Be an inspiration! Easier said than done? It can work on many levels. Personally, e.g. be someone the students and teachers can look up to and respect. Be on time. Show the teachers how much more fun exploring your fantasy island with your students is than just drilling the text book all the time. They are open for ideas, especially in the higher grades. Bingo with new vocabulary was always good fun. 4) This isn't a hint really, as it comes automatically: A smaller aspect, where your presence makes a difference, is pronunciation. The better teachers of the school are quite dedicated, but even they can't teach 'proper' English to the students. Some have strong accents to the point that you have to guess every second sentence. Pay attention to repeated mistakes by the students to improve understanding. In general, keep in mind that things go differently than you are used to. Students shout their answers instead of raising hands, some of the younger ones sleep in school or go into brawls in the middle of class, often organization is lacking and your carefully planned routine can be turned upside down by the cultural dynamics. Just one example: In Salsa class, boys wouldn't dance with girls.”

George - 2012

“This was the first time I have done any volunteering or 'proper' travelling abroad and I couldn't have wished for a better experience. The PoD staff, both in the UK and in Nepal, were excellent. Willing to give advice on everything from travel aspects, to putting me in a specific placement, to finding a great local meal. I went with the expectation of some disruption to schedules and I wasn't disappointed. With a national holiday every week and the occasional strike I was able to explore and do all the touristy things as well as get to grips with the placement work. If you are teaching I cannot emphasise enough the need to have a lesson or three up your sleeve ready to bring out at a moment's notice, as many volunteers found that they were put on the spot on their first day. This is a truly wonderful placement, in a wonderful country full of friendly people.

Up at around half 7 for breakfast and out the door at half 8 to catch a local bus to Bagar. A wonderful way to wake up, between the crazy drivers and bangra music you are always awake by the time you arrive at school. School is supposed to start at 10am, but be prepared for lesson times to be varied as the school day isn't as structured as the UK. Lunch, Dahl Baht (of course). A return bus ride as exhilarating as the morning one to return to lakeside. Then, if you return early enough, it is great to head over to the street kids centre, help them with their homework and play a few games before heading somewhere for dinner. Come back and do some prep work for the next day. Sleep is definitely needed around 10pm on a school night."

Nishma - 2011

"I loved that the children were welcoming and wanted you in their class, no matter what placement I was on the children would make so much effort to speak with you and they loved it when you spent time playing games, singing, dancing or whatever it is you can do. To see them smile and be happy that you are there with them was the best feeling!

I think people should volunteer abroad as it’s the most rewarding and unforgettable experience ever, it’s the best way to travel a country and live there too. You get to become a part of the community and locals, and meet people you wouldn't normally meet. It’s about living out of your comfort zone and putting yourself up to the challenge.

Whilst I was in Nepal I volunteered at Shree Krishna School for two months. Initially I found it was hard to settle in because of the lack of structure the school has, teachers tended to disappear and the Headmaster was hardly around! However I gave it time and remained positive about the placement, soon enough I really started enjoying it. The teachers are lovely once you get to know them even though it is hard to converse with them, the children make you feel welcome and at home. I gave it my all and did what I could to help the different classes. Eventually I started teaching my own classes that proved be an experience in itself, one to remember! All in all volunteering at Shree Krishna was definitely challenging but that is what made my experience unforgettable.

Overall it has been a valuable experience, all the other volunteers were great, and living at Bindu’s was awesome it really felt like being at home! Philippa is great and want to thank her for her support during my time on the placement – I will definitely be volunteering with PoD again in the future.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?

Just give it time and try your best. If teachers leave you behind follow them to find out what’s going on, do not shy away! Be confident and enjoy it!!

Reta - 2011

“I am 58 years old and have worked or looked after my children from the age of 15 but have recently retired. I was looking for something fulfilling and challenging to do. I was keen to work with young children in a caring capacity. I don't have any formal child care training but have worked in a voluntary position in Canada with children of abused mothers. Nepal is a place that sounded interesting to me so I applied at fairly short notice and was accepted. From the first contact with POD through to booking, traveling and arriving in Nepal everything went very smoothly. Philippa, POD co-ordinator in Nepal, was there to greet me from the bus in Pokhara and to settle me into my accommodation with a welcome dinner to meet other volunteers. I enjoyed my assignment working in the child care centre very much. The lack of hygiene is an initial shock. There seems to be no understanding of cross contamination from toilet to kitchen to mouth. The children are not in clean clothing and they pee anywhere and quite often don't wear underwear. All this said, they are an absolute joy to be with! The teacher and carers are amazing and three of them plus a volunteer handle a mixed age group of children quite often up to 36 children at a time who seem to arrive at odd times through the school day. You realise how much work volunteers do in Nepal and without them the people would be much worse off.  Be prepared for a lack of continuity, preparation, sometimes haphazard tuition. Also be prepared to have the best fun and fulfilling experience ever.

Most days start at 10am and the children are in the playground until about 10:45. In for maybe a singsong in English and Nepalese popular rhymes. ABC's and counting. Maybe a book reading. About half an hour play with toys then lunch. Lunch is served to all the kids. They sit on the floor at long benches. Some of the children can't eat on their own so jump in to help here, you may need to feed two or three at a time. The lunch is served piping hot in tin bowls which are very hot to touch and it takes a while to cool down so be prepared for some burning their mouths and taking much longer to eat than others. Each child when they have finished their meal will take their bowl to the sink which is on the floor ready to be washed up. I helped to stack these and rinsed them off and wash the childrens hands again and wiped the dhal off their faces and clothes. The children then return to the main room to sleep on mats on the floor. They sleep for about an hour until 2pm when they are collected by family, friends or volunteers. Most of the children sleep half naked so don't be surprised at this.

Getting to know the children and gaining their trust enough to have fun with them with most rewarding. It is lovely to walk into the school playground in the morning to have them run to you to say hi.

You have so much to offer, they need to learn English to increase their job opportunities, you only need a few word in Nepalese to get by. They can learn basic hygiene from you by watching what you do, e.g. washing your hands before eating and involving them in this procedure. Pokhara is a great place to be, lots to see and do. The food is amazing, I never had one bad meal in a month. The wine is usually dodgy so don't waste your money! The beer is served in huge bottles enough for two or three people from one bottle and very good. Try the fresh lemon tea or fresh ginger, excellent. Lots of lovely shopping opportunities and very reasonably priced.”

Caroline - 2011

"I taught at Shree Krishna, a middle school in Nepal. The children there were fabulous, and clearly enjoyed having a volunteer at their school. The teachers I worked alongside were friendly and helpful. I also volunteered two evenings per week at the street Childrens' centre. That was really good fun - definitely make this a part of your volunteer teaching experience if you can. It's only 10 minutes up the road from where you'll be staying. The kids really enjoy your visits, and look forward to the next one. Taking along a game of some sort is a good idea, as they'll enjoy playing with you. It can be as simple as a skipping rope!

The accommodation was really comfortable. Having my own room and bathroom was a luxury! Bindu and her family are lovely, and it was both good value for money, and culturally, to eat dinner with them most evenings. Although the food in Pokhara itself is cheap, you sometimes can't beat a home cooked meal! With regards to taking resources with you, you can probably get most of what you need in the city centre. There's no need to bring paper, etc. Perhaps some stickers would be good, but I think you can get these in Pokhara, too! Just be prepared to get stuck in and enjoy your time in Nepal and volunteering. I managed to fit a few other things in while I was there. I did paragliding (great fun!), a five day trek, and factored in time at the end of my trip to really explore Kathmandu. There is always something to see at the weekends around Pokhara, if you enjoy looking at caves, temples, etc. Otherwise, chill out with a coffee by the lake! All in all, a great experience. Plus you get to see the Himalayas! They never failed to take my breath away on my walk to school when the clouds had cleared. Stunning!

It's cliché, I know, but there's no way you can experience a country culturally unless you really spend a good amount of time in one place. Working somewhere too allows you to get to know local people, visit them in their homes and really get an idea about what a place is like. It's a step up from just a holiday, that's for sure."

Tara - 2011

"I had a really, truly, wonderful time. The POD team was supportive throughout and I never felt scared or alone, Phil and Philippa in Nepal were amazing. Pokhara is a beautiful place and working with the kids was extremely rewarding. I chose POD because they are a non profit organisation. I would definitely recommend POD to others!

I was greeted by many warm smiles at the school, we would usually begin with some maths with a quick break before moving on to English, splitting the class between the volunteers in terms of level. The kids were always happy to see us although occasionally not so happy to see their textbooks. Lessons would end with some educational games. Sometimes the kids would end up teaching us things on their breaks- such as that time I was taught the dance to Resham Phiriri! Seeing the pupils really happy about being able to do a certain sum or learn a new word was the best!

I would recommend other volunteers to pack light! Eat lots of momos and don't be afraid to practice your Nepali with people- most of them appreciate the effort!

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? Aside from doing good for a community, you learn a lot about yourself. Perhaps the greatest thing I learned is that just going for it and not doubting myself so much does really pay off. I don't think I came out of my placement a stronger person, or anything like that. I came out of it having realised how strong I could be and that I was capable of doing things by myself. My time in Nepal has really changed the way I see myself and I think that volunteering abroad is a positive experience for everyone in terms of learning about themselves."

Natasha - 2010

"It felt as though I was on a high for every single aspect of the trip; it’s difficult to point out what I enjoyed the most. The school that I worked in was so much fun. The children were very mischievous but wonderful; after being there for quite a while they warmed to me more and treated me like the other teachers. I really enjoyed teaching them some new nursery rhymes and simple arts and crafts that they had not yet come across before. I really got along with the other Pod volunteers that were living in the same guest house as me. It was good to bond further with them by going on excursions, meals, chilling in the common room etc. I actually went trekking with one of the other volunteers and we had the most challenging yet amazing time; neither of us knew we had so much stamina! Pod were amazing and I honestly believe that my experience would not have been so good if it were not for them. They are a really supportive organisation and they made me feel extremely safe and secure despite my unfamiliar surroundings. They made sure that I was well integrated into the existing group of volunteers that was already in Nepal and were free to help and advise me on any issues.

Daily Routine: 7.30 -9.00: Get ready/breakfast and then make sure I catch the bus by 9.00 so that I can make it to school by 10.00. 10.00:-10.30: School assembly (prayers, nursery rhymes, children drink their morning milk) 10.30 – 11.00: Playtime, a good chance to play with the children and have fun with them 11.00 – 1.00: After playtime children are split up into upper kindergarten and lower kindergarten. I normally helped the upper kindergarten children. Class time would involve teaching them the English ABC’S/ numbers or the Nepalese alphabet/ numbers. 1.00-2.00: Children’s lunch time 2.00-3.00: Nap time for the children; it’s quite a task getting them to go to sleep but once they are out they are out. The duration that the children are asleep comprises the teachers lunchtime. This is a good chance to bond with the teachers. I also help them to prepare children’s’ homework and marking their homework. 3.00 – 4.00: Children wake up and drink their milk; then it’s time to teach them some creative skills such as arts and crafts. At 4.00 the children’s parents come and then it is home time for both me and the children. Catch the bus and reach the guesthouse at around 5; get washed and catch up with the other volunteers. 7.00 – onwards: Dinner with the other volunteers and maybe go for an evening drink afterwards!

It is a scary yet amazing experience and anybody who has the chance to do it should do it. Pod are a very supportive organisation making you feel comfortable and at home in an unfamiliar environment. You should make the most of the experience when you are there!! try to do as much as possible...

I would definitely travel with Pod again and would recommend them highly."

Will - 2010

“Working in Nepal was amazing. The country itself was stunning from the minute you can see it from the aeroplane. From there the whole experience is like one I've never had before. The best thing about this placement is that it's not all work work work. In fact even when you're working it doesn't feel like work. The students get something brilliant from it; the chance to speak English, with a better future, and as a volunteer, you get to do something very few people get to do and change many peoples lives and when you realise that, if your anything like me, you take on more projects simultaneously.

A typical day involved getting up for breakfast downstairs in the hotel or on Lakeside. Getting to school for 10am, they perform an assembly. The lessons involve the volunteers help with pronunciation, spelling, grammar etc. after school, the world was your oyster!

I came across POD looking for volunteer placements and found them in the NUS extras booklet. I would 100% recommend it to anyone considering volunteering.”

Alex - 2010

"It sounds a little clichéd to say it, but the more you put in, the more you'll get out. I found when I really started enjoying the placement properly was when I got over initial shyness for trying new ideas and just tried new things with the students. They'll appreciate the change of scene, and you'll appreciate the effects. I can't imagine how I could've grown to be the person I am now WITHOUT volunteering abroad. It really is a fascinating and fantastic experience, and a great opportunity to live and work in a community very different from your own."

Rachel - 2010

“Firstly, thank you so much for one of the most amazing experiences of my life so far. I really fell in love with Nepal, and can't wait to go back, so thank you again to POD for making it all possible!

At school, it was pretty nerve-racking to start with, especially when you are overwhelmed by crowds of excited children wanting to drag you into their classroom. But Bed, who is really experienced and friendly, and willing to socialise outside of school, helped a lot, as did Saru, a younger female teacher. As we taught alongside them, you could do as much as you wanted to whilst building up confidence, and I was soon making flashcards, singing songs, and leading lessons. I got really attached to all the children there, and was so sad to leave them.

The send off that the children gave us at each of the placements nearly moved me to tears each time! At Shree Krishna, each class wrote farewell messages on the blackboards, covered us in red tikka powder, put garlands of flowers on our heads and round our necks, and sang songs and danced for us. The teachers put a farewell lunch on for us, and presented me with a certificate of thanks and a custom-made Kurta Surwal. Seeing the fans I'd paid for with donations I'd raised at home working in the classrooms, was also a great reward. Their generosity was really moving"

Sarah - 2009

“My time in Nepal was the most amazing and awesome thing I have ever done. I was completely engrossed and absorbed in making the most of my short visit, about five weeks in all. All my expectations were swept away: the school was much less well resourced than I had imagined it would be, so that became a challenge. The non-availability of basic resources too was a shock to me: whilst paper, pens and glue sticks were easy to get hold of, paint, white glue, card and other classroom basics were simply not there. However I enjoyed the challenge of sourcing local materials and set to make some teaching aids and toys to bring some variety and enhance the children's learning. I also engaged a local carpenter to make some blocks, a play house and a storage shelf as well as two tables. I was able to do this as I had raised some sponsorship money in the months before I travelled.

The children at the primary school were absolutely adorable, loving, full of fun, naughty at times and eager to engage with us volunteers. We quickly became very attached to them and it was somewhat heartbreaking when the time came to leave. The Nepali education system is very limited in terms of what it offers the children and they are not used to much creative and imaginative play as part of their curriculum. We sang and danced as much as we could, made collages and pictures, learned letters and numbers, shared stories and rhymes. Their enthusiasm never wavered and even though it was officially school holidays we always had a full quota of children, aged from under one to about 12 years, every day. Any mums that chose to come along were welcomed too, and they clearly enjoyed participating in whatever the children were doing.

I am sure everyone says this, but I really do hope to go back, soon. GO to Nepal! You will not be disappointed!!”

Catherine - 2008

I had an amazing time in Nepal and was really sad to leave at the end, can't believe how fast the month went. I was working at Annapurna primary school which was really challenging but a lot of fun. This placement has taught me to make the most of every opportunity in life and take positives from every situation. It has also re-iterated my love for working with children and has opened my eyes to the generosity of the Nepali people. I found being immersed in the culture fascinating, and thoroughly enjoyed learning new things about the place, people and ultimately about myself. The support I received both in the UK and in Nepal was second to none and I really felt looked after and cared for.”

Find out more about volunteering in Nepal

AWARDS AND ACCREDITATIONS

  • Tourism Concern
  • Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust
  • Right Tourism
  • DOFE
  • theguardian
  • the independent
  • Sunday Times
  • Year Out Group
  • Best Volunteering Organisation
  • Wall Street Journal