Ben & Tanzi Hume
Sauraha - Jan 2007

Where do we begin???? Our experience in Nepal has been so amazing, filled with such a huge variety of new experiences. We spent our first few days trying to find our feet in the chaos that is Kathmandu. Probably the most difficult thing was keeping warm at night time. No heat and very limited hot water meant this was quite the challenge for those who are so used to luxuries such as central heating! We really enjoyed our time at Happy Home, playing with the children, meeting other volunteers and learning the basics in Nepali language.  Our teachers Rama and Bimala both deserve awards for patience and perseverance! We also got used the eating dal bhat Nepali style Ė with our hands! At first it felt as if we were going against everything our parents tought us as children but by the end of our time in Nepal we were pros. Quite a liberating feeling actually.
Just as we were beginning to feel comfortable in Kathmandu, we moved to Dhulikel to begin our village training. We were placed with an incredible host family consisting of 16 members, three buffaloes and some goats. We spent most of our time playing with the children and trying our best to interact with the adults. Thankfully Bimala and Rama paid us a visit so we could brush up on our Nepali language skills a bit further. We also did some sightseeing, visited one of the local schools and watched the sunrise up above the Himalayas.
Next on the itinerary was our placement experience in an orphanage in Sauraha, Chitwan. From the moment we walked onto the property we were surrounded by 16 children aged between 7 and 18. On our first night the children all danced and sang and welcomed us into their home. Our week in the orphanage went far too quickly as we busied ourselves playing, dancing and singing with the children, helping with homework, helping with the sweeping and chopping vegetables for the evening meal. We also got a glimpse of the library nearby and helped Sylvia (another volunteer) with some of her morning classes.  
We spent Christmas in Sauraha which was a real treat. Being in a Christian orphanage, the day was celebrated from5.30 am right through to midnight. Just as we do at home, we watched the children open their presents in the morning. They were so excited as this seemed to be the only time of year that they receive gifts. They each got some new clothes and a toy to play with. The orphanage was filled with bubbles, and games and noise for about 3 hours until all of the batteries finally ran out. Then we joined them for their church service for more singing and dancing and laughter. By the end of the day we were completely exhausted, never having been surrounded by that many excited children for that many hours!! Some of the children were still celebrating as we called it a night. 
The next day we met up with the rest of the Info Nepal crew who had traveled to Sauraha for the International Elephant Race. Ryan (another volunteer) rode the Info Nepal elephant to third place in his heat qualifying for the semi-finals the next day. Unfortunately our elephant was injured before the semis and refusing to ride an injured elephant, Info Nepal withdrew from the competition. We created quite a stir when the race began and our elephant simply sat down on the starting line.  
Before we knew it, it was time to pack our bags and return to Kathmandu. We had originally planned to travel to Pokhara but the series of strikes that had recently occurred in the area made us a little uneasy with regards to getting back in time to catch our flight home. So we traveled straight to Kathmandu and spent our last few days in Nepal doing some sightseeing, relaxing and making the most of the hot showers on offer at our hotel (the one thing we found most difficult to live without). We also managed to organize a mountain flight to get up close and personal with Mt Everest. We had to wait hours for the fog to clear but it was truly worth it. What a sight!  
As we prepare to return home, we are filled with mixed feelings. We canít wait to return to some of the luxuries we so often take for granted such as our bathroom complete with hot shower, lighting at the flick of a button and a flush toilet, power that works round the clock, and central heating!! On the other hand, it is going to be so difficult to say goodbye to all of the wonderful people we have met in Nepal. Even though we have only been here a short time, the relationships we have formed have changed us forever and will always have a special place in our hearts. We shall never ever forget our humbling Nepali experience or the faces of those lovely children we had the opportunity to work with.