VOLUNTEERING IN PATIHANI CHITWAN
Hi, My name is Sue and I am from Australia. I arrived in Kathmandu at the end of January and along with another volunteer, Barry, from London, I received a very warm welcome from Asim and Dinesh from INFO, and Raj and staff at the Kathmandu Peace Guest House. It was a great way to begin my time here.
We started into Language Classes each morning. These classes provided lots of laughs as I made mistake after mistake ( like saying "the children go to school to get hit" rather than" the children go to school to learn"!!) Dinesh showed endless patience with me!. What has suprised me is how much I did actually learn when I didn't think I was taking it in at all ! The content of the language classes was excellent in terms of the things we needed to be able to say and understand to have good basic communication with our host families and the children in our classes. It was a very well thought out course taught well by Dinesh.
I am now with my host family in the village of Patihani in Chitwan. Their hospitality has been overwhelming and I feel very much at home with them and have learnt lots from them. I can now eat Dal Baat with the best of them while sitting cross legged on the floor, and today I finally succeeded in having a "shower" at the outdoor pump without my clothes blowing into the fields, without my sarong falling down and without drawing any interested onlookers!! And I can chase chickens out of the house with wonderful Nepali words - they ignore my English words!!
I have four classes of children - all different. In Patihani itself I have a class of 10 boys ( aged 11-13 yrs) at 7.00am - they are a great "wake up" group. This is followed at 8.00am by a mixed group of 12 children - boys and girls, mixed ages and very mixed abilities.
In the afternoon I walk 20 minutes to a small village on the bank of the Rapti River which borders the Chitwan National Park. We have our classes sitting in the open on the bank of the river - it is absolutely beautiful. There hasn't been any volunteers in this village before now and the children are so keen to be involved that I have ended up with 65 children in the 4-9yr old group, and 35 in the 9-12yr old group - and it is great!! The children are enthusiastic and totally focused and not at all distracted by the crocodiles and elephants that appear in the river during class - which is more than I can say for me!!
I am finding volunteering with INFO to be a wonderful experience, and a very safe experience. They are very aware of the political situation, monitor it carefully and the safety of the volunteers is always carefully considered and put first. Despite all the political upheavels of the past few weeks I have felt totally safe and extremely supported by INFO.