My family and I volunteered at an orphanage in Kathmandu, Nepal for a week in November of 2010. The trip was a truly humbling and eye opening experience. Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world and yet is so beautiful and full of happy, peaceful people. In 2005, Kathmandu native Rajendra Subedi began Ocean Nepal and created an orphanage for the education and care for impoverished children in the capital city, Kathmandu. Now, six years later he continues managing the orphanage and has successfully achieved sponsorship for each of the ten children as well as completed construction of a new four story home, Ramro Sathi, which means “best friend” in Nepali.
Volunteering at Ocean Nepal (http://oceannepal.org/) is a big adventure; challenging but rewarding. As volunteers, there was plenty of variety in the work we undertook. Spending time with the children included helping them in the morning with chores, getting ready for school, dropping them off, picking them up after karate practice, tutoring, and playing with them after school and during breaks. They are all very sweet, affectionate, and speak English. Although it may seem like the children do not have much, they have each other and a supportive and loving household. They have all the ingredients for a happy and healthy childhood development.
There were many "highlights" of the trip, pretty much any time we spent with the children was memorable. Our family organized much-anticipated field trips such as games and blowing bubbles in the park and watching a Nepali film in the local movie theater. We also planned a scavenger hunt around town, which was a lot of fun.
A challenge that we encountered, was adjusting to the Nepali cuisine and their style of living. At Ramro Sathi, curry is served at every meal and it was always extremely spicy! Also it is not customary to use forks and spoons, so we ate with our hands! This made for a funny and messy dining experience. We also treated the children to their favorite food: MoMos (little dumplings that are yummy but still spicy!). We soon learned the phrase “MoMo khanne? Huncha!” (Can we have MoMo? Yes! Let’s eat!).
For volunteers, working with the children at Ocean Nepal is rewarding and possibly one of the best experiences you will ever have. Not only will you be humbled by the amazing kids, you will create a life long connection with them, making it impossible to not want to return. Rajendra and his family, the other volunteers, and helpers at the house are truly special people who have dedicated their lives to working towards a better future for the children of Nepal. Also for those who have never experienced deprivation and poverty, will learn from the huge culture shock. Nepal is a culturally vibrant place, as it culminates a blend between China and India with its own distinct characteristics. Volunteering at Ocean Nepal creates opportunity to learn more about Nepali culture and life then what can be learned from a tourist vacation.
I admire Rajendra tremendously. His vision for Ocean Nepal is larger then just supplying a home for Nepali orphans. He’s paving the way to establish equal rights for all people regardless of their class. The caste system in Nepal has caused the discrimination against the lowest caste: the Untouchables. In Ramro Sathi, all the children are treated equally and given equal access to future opportunities, regardless of their class. Beginning with the best available educational opportunities (private schooling) and access to medical care. Through donations and sponsorships, they will then have the money and opportunity to go to university and pursue their interests.
I have been tirelessly reminding my parents that we need to go back to Nepal. The children are very dear to my heart, and the country is so beautiful that it really is impossible to not want to go back.
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