Dear Bikky, Santosh and volunteers past, present and future,
I am writing to you from Nepal as I enter my last week of my holiday following a breathtakingly beautiful and sublime experience over the last 6 weeks courtesy of Volunteers for Community Development – Nepal (VCD Nepal). I spent a considerable amount of time searching the net for volunteering opportunities I could undertake relatively last minute and as I am now 36, somewhere I didn’t feel out of place with all the gap year students and youngsters. I’ve had a hankering to visit Nepal for many years, so when I finally decided on the destination I found a number of international sites offering volunteer experiences but at obscene prices ranging from 1700 to 2500 euros.
I wasn’t overly convinced by any of the answers received about what they would be doing with the money to contribute to the development of Nepal, but not taking anything away from them I continued to look for local Nepalese organizations offering authentic experiences. I stumbled across VCD Nepal and managed to find a number of testimonials and sites authenticating them as a real organization and once I completed my application form and emailed it along with a request for an urgent response as I wished to travel within the next few days, I was pleasantly surprised to receive an email within a couple of hours from their founder.
They managed to organise my six week adventure in less than three days including pick up from the airport, accommodation in Kathmandu which was not only comfortable but included hot running water and wi-fi 24/7, and also delicious Nepali meals and excellent support from the agency who are available 24/7 and offer a wealth of information and advice at all times and generally with a smile! I’m amazed at what they have managed for me, and all organized to the highest standards using local suppliers and supporting the community throughout, for a fraction of the fees being charged by some of the international companies, VCD Nepal has managed to organize me a 7 day trek through the Annapurna region with my own guide, a 3 day jungle safari in Chitwan complete with an elephant ride and canoe trip through the national park, a white water rafting trip which almost killed me with fright but which I enjoyed immensely, an amazing half hour tandem paraglide which has left me wanting more, food and accommodation were provided throughout.
Most importantly they organized an unforgettable three weeks volunteering as a teacher in a local school. Teaching English to some of the most brightest, confident and interesting kids I will ever have the pleasure to meet in a school where facilities are lacking to say the least has certainly given me some valid lessons and I can’t express how important the work VCD Nepal placing volunteers here is to the school and to the future of the children. I was also placed with a host family who live in the same village as the school and this allowed me a unique perspective into Nepalese culture, tradition and life. VCD are also involved in a number of other community projects like orphanages and monasteries. I truly believe that VCD Nepal has a unique approach and I can’t recommend them highly enough, namely because I think they do such a great job and prospective volunteers would have the best adventure possible and see the true beauty of Nepal as well as be able to actively contribute to developing communities. I really think VCD Nepal fills a much needed gap in the ‘last minute, any age, above board organisation, volunteering abroad market.’ Much love to my two Nepalese brothers who made my trip so complete, I leave a piece of my heart with you and in Nepal.
Nadia Persaud (UK) Teaching English/adventure & office development – 6 weeks February 2013