When volunteers complete their time in Gorkha, we ask for a report and feedback from their visit. This is very important to gain updates on projects and to help understand what is going well and what problems there might be.
Volunteers also find it interesting and helpful to share their experiences and this will then act as an insight for future volunteers.
Aidan has vast experience of life and education in Nepal having lived and taught in Kathmandu for 10 years. He has written a number of books including Better Classroom Better Teaching which has been translated into Nepali for use by teachers. Now retired, Aidan and his wife Caroline wished to return to Nepal and offered to volunteer through GDS and help Laxman develop a course for Training Teacher Trainers. The aim is to have a number of trainers to present Teacher Training courses in rural Gorkha so expanding the delivery of the courses that GDS has funded for several years. The event was held in Gorkha town followed by a school course at Manakamana with Aidan’s book being used as a basis for the course. A success all round.
Sarah contacted GDS in October 2018 and planned her 6 week Elective Placement from Leeds University for August 2019. Gorkha hospital was in a difficult state, having at last been demolished after damage in the 2015 earthquakes and so during the rebuild, temporary rooms had been set up as wards. Our committee in Gorkha helped organise for mornings to be spent at the Government funded Gorkha Hospital,and afternoons/evenings at the private Apollo hospital nearby, as well as involvement in GDS funded projects.
An insight into the daily hospital routine for a Medical Elective Placement and a review of the whole experience can be seen in Sarah’s Report. Sarah kindly provided additional feedback and guidance for future volunteers which is integrated into our guidance.
Fiona Shaw – Speech and Language Therapist April-May 2019
Thirty years after her first visit to Nepal, Fiona together with husband Ian, traveled to Nepal for trekking in the Annapurna range. After this adventure, Fiona spent 3 weeks in Gorkha with a homestay family and worked in local schools to support teachers of younger children as well as disabled children in Shree Mahendra School.
Fiona was able to develop teachers’ awareness of interactive learning and ‘fun’ in learning with simple games and minimal resources made from local materials. Fiona wrote, ‘I had the most incredible time in Gorkha, one of the most rewarding 3 weeks I have ever spent!’
See Fiona’s detailed and fascinating report Fiona’s Report
Eamonn Foley- Medical Elective May-June 2018
Eamonn undertook 4 weeks Medical Elective in May/June 2018. He worked alongside Nepali Medical Students from Kathmandu who he found invaluable in helping with translation and was able to share many experiences and also saw the delivery of new heart monitoring equipment funded through GDS. Eamonn was also able to work on other GDS projects such as the Hygiene programme and meet sponsored children providing invaluable feedback.
Eamonn commented ‘The kindness shown to me by the Medical students, Sarita’s family and the whole local committee of GDHEDS was truly overwhelming. The perfect scenery and simpler way of life built around habit and routine was relaxing and a lovely change. I learnt a great deal about the importance of basic medical practice. The necessity of perfecting Histories and Examinations in the absence of diagnostic tests, and just how greatly pain, its perception and management can be altered by cultural beliefs. see Eamonn’s full report.
Katie Vaneker Occupational Therapist June-July 2018
Katie is an Occupational Therapist with experience of working in forensic settings (i.e. prisons) helping to enable health and wellbeing through skill development. Following discussions with the small prison in Gorkha, they agreed for Katie to enter the prison to develop a programme. Katie did this with some excellent ideas which were checked and selected for the most appropriate and sustainable opportunities. However, before being able to start the programme, a change of Governor at the prison rejected the proposals and so sadly Katie was not able to fulfill this programme.
Katie did however join Headmaster Laxman for 5 days helping with a Rural Teacher Programme which GDS support, and also helped in the school spending some time with disabled children. Our thanks to Katie for managing through a difficult situation.
Read Katie’s report on the Rural Teacher Training experience Barpak teacher training experience.
Presented with a coloured bamboo stool made by prisoners.
Elise Kearle – Occupational Therapist from Australia – January 2018
Elise Kearle had recently qualified as an Occupational Therapist – our first OT volunteer so very exciting for us. Elise lives in Australia and fortunately came across our website and, as with many, she wanted to return to Nepal to volunteer after an earlier trekking trip where she fell in love with the country and its people.
Elise worked in the hospital alongside the physiotherapist and undertook work with stroke rehabilitation. She also took part in school hygiene, women’s health and teacher training programmes and spent time assessing the needs of children with learning difficulties/disabilities to enable future volunteers to be more involved. Elise wrote a fabulous report which is available in here Elise Report.
Richard Van Neste – May 2017
Richard spent much of the summer in Gorkha and was involved in the Mahendra Jyoti school teaching and also helping with IT. Laxman arranged two teacher training courses in remote areas of Gorkha District and Richard accompanied him and joined in the very activity based training sessions. His Laprak report gives an insight into the difficulties and highlights of the eventful journey and training. He made great friends with his homestay family and has since returned for a visit in 2019.
Linda Blunt February 2017
Linda is Trustee and Chair of GDS and first volunteered in 1997 followed by approx 7 visits to Gorkha, Linda returned in Feb 2017 to meet old friends and new and to see an active and supportive programme is working and continues to be needed. Also clear is that it remains a wonderful place to volunteer.
To see full report see – Linda Blunt Report 2017
Excerpts from a number of reports from volunteers are presented below.
‘After my time volunteering for six weeks in January I went backpacking around Asia, however I wanted to go back to my Nepali home post earthquake to see friends before I headed back to the UK. I was happy to see the roads in good condition on my journey to Gorkha but not so happy as I looked out the bus window seeing some of the beautiful clay, stone and concrete houses crumbled into piles of rubble. Bright orange and blue plastic was a common sight which was either being used as tents or roofs by local people.
As I walked along my original home stay street seeing so many houses that are now only one story instead of three, now with CGI roofing instead of tiles or in the process of being demolished was difficult to see. However I was then welcomed by my family who were waiting for me outside their house. It felt like yesterday that I saw my old home stay family, even though four months had passed they welcomed me back into their home like family.
My time in Gorkha was very special. I spent my time enjoying the company of my Nepali family and being invited for food four times within my five days in Gorkha. I visited farmers in the rural areas of Gorkha bazaar who gave me Nepali black tea, force fed me biscuits and one lady persistently asked if she could make me noodles or an omelet- as her house was damaged and her family were living in a bamboo and CGI hut I couldn’t accept taking food from them!
GDS has funded the roofing of the temporary learning centres (TLC) in ten different educational institutes and it has certainly been an effective and beneficial donation. I visited six schools which all had TLC’s as they were unsafe due to them needing to be repaired or demolished completely. I attended the Nepali GDS committee meeting and their next wish is to provide solar lamps to those without electricity. They have already provided 30 of these lamps to the sponsored children which have proven an asset to their families.
Listening to many earthquake stories was emotional yet inspiring. I will cherish their kindness,generosity and good humour and cannot wait to visit them again. There certainly is something special about Nepali people that I am yet to experience elsewhere. Namaste Nepal.’
Zoe Dallow – February 2015
“All is well with me!! I felt settled the day I moved in with my Nepali family- the Maskeys! Extremely welcoming and warm people, my room is great and I am very happy.” “So yesterday I went to visit Saraswati primary school and got back a few hours ago. It certainly is rural! It was a hard two and a half hour climb but was worth it. I was not expecting the reception we had!!! Flower garlands, oranges and all the local people had stopped working to welcome Purushottham and I.”
Olivia Power – February 2015
“Everything’s well in Gorkha, I’ve been teaching at Laxman’s School the past two days!! Up at 5am everyday…! Certainly takes some getting used to but its bed every night at 9am so I’m embracing the Nepali way of life. I taught my first lesson on how to write a letter, and my second on paragraph writing, which they are finding more difficult to grasp. But I have another lesson with them tomorrow so I shall go over it again and simplify things. It’s sad to see that the privately educated children who are about ten years old speak better English than the 15-16-17 year olds in the government schools’.See Full Report
Hygiene Project – “Zoe and I have been doing the hygiene project with Sarita and members of the GWA and Zoe took a lesson yesterday on personal hygiene. It was really good she used the heads shoulders knees and toes song to teach them about washing haha. We’ve got another one today at 11, then I’m going shawl shopping with Leila then going to walk up to the temple on top of the hill with Narayan this afternoon. Fun packed day I’m thoroughly enjoying life here! The teaching is really rewarding.”
Kitty Hardman – September 2014
‘Have had a fantastic time with the hygiene project both at Bal Mandir and Prithi Naryan Balbicas Primary school. One of the best classes was the hand-washing lesson. When you should wash your hands, why it is important and why just water isn’t enough! It’s been just amazing staying with Sarita and her wonderful family as well. They have welcomed me in and have treated me like family and shared everything, have had some unforgettable experiences and made, I hope, life long friendships’.See Full Report
Emma Rowlett – March 2013
‘My first thoughts were that it felt a lot like India, but a little less hectic. I am Gorkha-bound today. We head off and I am totally blown away by the scenery. Gorkha is situated in the mid-mountain range of Nepal. You can imagine the sights, lush green mountains and valleys. Rugged landscaped snow-capped peaks and white water valleys, a true feast for the eyes.
My partner Noel arrived to finish off my final week in Nepal with some sightseeing. Noel sprung a surprise on me, that he had arranged for us to get married in Gorkha in the morning! With the help of Linda and Geeta in London, and Laxman and Parvati in Nepal, they managed to pull off a wedding for us. It was a great morning. The best bit for me was that we both had to dance Nepali style for about twenty minutes, neither of us had a clue what we were doing but the ear-to-ear grins on our faces said it all’.
Jan Raven – March 2012
‘Coming into Kathmandu was magnificent, blue skies and a row of snow-capped mountains guided the plane into the airport. I had traveled on to Gorkha so quickly so that I could be present for a school celebration and how wonderful it was. Children danced, accepted sponsorship and listened to speeches and I sat on the stage with the local dignitaries. … The students were so receptive, we played word and colour games and taught each other songs and dances. During my stay I was made to feel so very welcome by everybody, often being invited to share their food cooked in their one-roomed homes. This has truly been the most incredible experience of my life and I can’t wait until I go back again’ See Full Report
Naomi Cairns – April 2011
‘From April – May 2011, I volunteered in Gorkha, Nepal, and I can honestly say it’s one of the best things I have ever done.
Before I left I bought a Lonely Planet Nepali Phrasebook, and this was a great help as I learnt a few bits about the language before I went, and was constantly referring to it whilst I was out there. I’m not sure I would have survived without this book, as sometimes I had to show them the word because I could not pronounce it correctly!
One of the best pieces of advice I can probably give is be prepared for anything, it is very spontaneous teaching, and it is best not to expect anything and go with the flow of it. Thinking on the spot for ideas and things was also quite a big part of it.
Overall I think this trip to Nepal was a great success. I had an amazing time, made great friendships, and gained another family. The Nepali have made a lasting impression on me, I think I gained more than I have given them, and I cannot wait to go back!’ See Full Report
Joanne Gill – Medical Elective
‘My experience in Nepal was not only medical; living in a country with a completely different culture broadened my outlook on several aspects of life.
In Gorkha, my colleague and I stayed with a local family, which was a brilliant cultural experience I feel very privileged to have had and which allowed me to learn about Nepal in a very real way. They were incredibly welcoming and lots of fun.
The 18-year-old son had had a pituitary tumour some years ago and as a result has not yet been through puberty. His treatment cannot be provided in Nepal; he must travel to Delhi to receive the massively expensive hormone injections that he needs. Although reasonably well-off by Nepali standards, the family can barely afford the treatment. This highlights how difficult it is for people with chronic conditions which require years of medication.
At the risk of sounding clichéd, my experience highlighted how lucky we are in the Western world to have access to basic amenities such as clean water and electricity, as well as to excellent healthcare’. See Full Report
Oliver Walsgrove – Medical Elective
‘The first couple of days were a bit confusing while we worked out what was going on and where, but everyone was very helpful and we soon found our way. The family were friendly and good fun, our room was fine and the food delicious. It was difficult to communicate at times, but we got used to having conversations in half Nepali and half English, and we learned a lot about the Nepali culture.
Overall we have a great time, and will recommend this placement to anyone else we know of who would like to come to Nepal. It was a wonderful experience that I will remember for the rest of my life!’ See Full Report