Our experiences in Nepal as a family. 

John, Elizabeth, Cassie,
Jackie and Angus Bevan.

We were planning a trip overseas last year and were influenced by the very memorable time some friends had volunteering as a family in Nepal, so we thought we would give it a go. Our family consists of my husband John, myself Liz., and our 3 children, Angus 7yrs., Jackie 10yrs and Cassie 12 yrs. 

At first I was quite worried how the children would cope with the living standards and the change in culture. I had no need to worry as the children proved to be extremely adaptable. 

Our first week consisted of language and cultural lessons in Kathmandu which we found very informative. Our daughters, Cassie and Jackie proved much better at learning the language than their aging parents!

Then we moved to the village of Godawari where we were placed with the family we were to spend the next 5 weeks with. We had one more week of lessons here before we started our placement. 

Our host family consisted of the mother, father, and 3 boys, one of whom was married. He and his wife (8 months pregnant at the time), also lived in the house. They coped really well with the big increase in the family size while we were there, cooking very large amounts of dahl baht every day for us all. We got used to washing outside at what we called the local washing station and learned not to wash at 3:30 pm when the whole school was filing past! We were glad we were not there in winter as the water was very cold. There was no running water in our house and the toilet was a squat outside. This didn't bother the kids once they learned how to use it, and John became quite proficient at unblocking it which was often necessary. 

After week 2 we started our placements. John went to the health post, I started teaching at Dolphin English School and the kids also went to the school. This proved to be a wonderful experience. The kids settled into the school very well, and soon had made lots of friends. They learned much about the Nepali culture from their friends. The Nepali children were so welcoming and friendly. They all found it very hard when the time came to say Good-bye.

I found the teaching extremely rewarding. I am not a teacher by trade so was a bit worried at first about how things were going to go. But all went well. I was fortunate to have many resources from my own children, and took in many of their books and games for the Nepali children to read and play with. They have so little resources of their own. 

John found the Health Post interesting although he was mainly observing. He felt he would have to have a much greater knowledge of Nepali or an interpreter before he would be comfortable treating patients. During his time at the Health Post, John gave assistance in some of the procedures and helped the staff there with improving their English and knowledge of Australia. John felt That while he had limited ability and effect in the Health Post, he enjoyed the experience and friendships that he made with the staff and some of the regular patients who attended the Post. 

Overall we felt the experience we had was very valuable for us. It was a time that we will never forget and a fabulous introduction to Nepali life. Probably our only regret was that we didn't have more time to spend volunteering. We know that in future if we get the chance to volunteer again we will go for it. It is a great way to learn about a different country and hopefully to be able to contribute something in return.

For those of you who are thinking about doing something like this with your family it can be a really valuable and worthwhile experience . After volunteering we went trekking and we met quite a few people who were trekking without their children. After seeing us with our children, they are thinking about taking their children next time. So any families out there who are thinking about giving it a go, I would say go for it for sure.