Jack Petchey Foundation
If you think you can, you can!

My experience in Nepal.

The Jack Petchey Foundation runs IGFV – Individual Grants For Volunteering. If successful, you can receive a grant which may contribute to your volunteer fundraising cause (for example if you are volunteering with ICS), or towards your volunteering programme or placement. It is a very straightforward process and completely worth applying for! All you need to do in return is complete a report of your volunteering experience to show the Jack Petchey Foundation what their grant has helped you achieve. This report can be in the form of a blog (such as this), a straightforward diary or record of your time volunteering or compilation video. With the support of the Jack Petchey Foundation’s IGFV scheme, volunteering with a trusted and respectable programme is completely possible for anyone, and I can’t emphasise enough –

give volunteering a go!

Here is my experience!

In January this year, I stumbled across the ICS webpage. Being a first year university student with too much time on my hands to worry about my future, my degree and a myriad of other things, I decided to fill out the application form for a 10-week volunteering programme. After getting a call saying I have been placed with Raleigh International and information regarding an upcoming assessment day and interview, I was beginning to believe that my summer might be filled with something slightly more meaningful than a couple of holidays in Europe with friends and family.

After successfully clearing the interview and assessment at Raleigh’s head office in London, I had to raise £800 for Raleigh International in order to participate as a volunteer. This seemed a daunting amount of money to raise, but thanks to the Jack Petchey Foundation and supportive friends and family, I achieved my fundraising target much more quickly than I anticipated. I raised the £800 by hosting a Nepali themed dinner party with some close friends, by setting up a JustGiving page with information about Raleigh International and WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) projects, and by applying for a Jack Petchey Foundation young person’s volunteering grant. Sharing the purpose and details of my upcoming volunteering placement on social media was a great help in terms of letting people know what my fundraising was for. I would definitely recommend doing a mixture of fundraisers, as it puts less pressure on a single event for the whole fundraising target!

On the 23rd June, I arrived in Nepal with my fellow 17U Raleigh Nepal volunteers. It was exciting and nerve-racking, and before we knew it we were on a coach to Bhaktapur, about 5 kilometres out of Kathmandu, where our in-country counterpart volunteers awaited our arrival and the pre-community training commenced. Over the next 2 and a half days we were mixed up and immersed in information regarding health and safety, rural community living, self-care, Raleigh values and WASH related practices and education (WASH stands for Water Sanitation and Hygiene).

We were placed into our official NC teams on the penultimate morning in Bhaktapur. Everything at this point was becoming real, and it was finally kicking in that we would be spending the next arduous 10 weeks with these 10 people in a village or community over 4500 miles away from home. Like most people in my situation, I was wondering if I would be able to cope with the upcoming 2 and a half months of little to no contact with my loved ones…

My team, NC9, was placed in beautiful Adamar, a community scattered over a mountainous ‘hill’. It is truly the most beautiful place I have ever been, and all 140 members of the community welcomed and accepted us with wide arms and smiles. Living in Adamar was a challenge from day one, as we had no choice but to walk up and down the mountain to reach anywhere in the community. After acclimatising for a few days and slowly building up our stamina to walk on such treacherous terrain (even just to have a shower!), we were placed into our committee chairs for 4 target areas and the real work began. These 4 areas were Awareness raising, Community Development, Training and Infrastructure.

Together with the enthusiastic members of the community, we achieved: the construction of a 12,000 litre water tank, capable of storing and supplying the village with clean water throughout the year; the construction of 5 toilets and 13 handwashing stations, surpassing our target quota for both; the strengthening and maintenance of the Youth Group, Women’s Group, and Water User Committee to improve community development; designed and painted a handwashing awareness themed mural on the community hall; and delivered a range of training sessions including menstrual hygiene, committee function, and youth leadership.

Each achievement has been fully supported by the people living in Adamar, which made the 10 weeks living there so worthwhile. Knowing that I contributed to a small improvement in the lives of my friends in Adamar is one of the greatest feelings, and I cannot express my sense of gratitude for the opportunity I had to experience life in Adamar. The things I learnt over the last 10 weeks will stay with me forever – including my new found hiking, chess and handwashing skills!

Respecting the people who willingly let 11 strangers into their homes for over 2 months was essential. I tried my best to learn Nepali so I did not rely fully on my Nepali counterpart volunteer to communicate with the members of our community, and ended up being able to have small conversations with native Nepali speakers. Making the effort not only enhanced my personal experience and language abilities, but it showed greater levels of respect to my host family and the other people I was living around.

I want to thank the Jack Petchey foundation for making my Nepal experience a reality, Raleigh International for supporting me and taking me all the way to Makwanpur, my fellow NC9 team mates who I have grown to love more than I ever imagined I could 11 weeks ago, and my family and friends in Adamar, who showed me love, respect and happiness in their tiny corner of the world.

If you are considering a volunteer programme or simply something more interesting to fill your gap year/ summer holiday with, I couldn’t recommend ICS and Raleigh International more. The work that Raleigh support is invaluable and enriches so many people’s lives, the processes leading up to and during the 10-week placement are thorough and fun, and the friends you will make will be friends for life.

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