Rob and Elena
Goljung 14th March – 14th April 2007
We got a
very warm welcome the first day we arrived with a meal at a
local restaurant. It was very nice to meet Asim’s wife and
son and also to catch a few other volunteers who were just
finishing their placements and were leaving Nepal. They gave
us some useful tips on what to expect, what not to expect(!)
and how to deal with everything.
couple of days were sightseeing, with a few different
members of the Info Nepal team, to various different places
around Kathmandu. Pratik and Bicky were great with their
knowledge of every little detail and we got a very good
starter in understanding a lot of Nepali culture.
that the language classes started with Rama. She would meet
us every day, normally in the mornings, for about 2 hours.
We started off very basically with “hello’s”, “how are you’s”
and basic introductions, but very rapidly over the 5 days of
lessons, progressed to “how to barter for the best price”,
“likes and dislikes”, “food and drink” and much more.
this time we visited our training village family for two
nights which was a really good insight into what to expect
from the actual placement. At first we both felt a little
uncomfortable as our Nepalese was still a little shaky and
the family’s English wasn’t that good. Also as they were
such good hosts they would not let us help with any jobs and
as this wasn’t our placement there was nothing for us to be
getting on with immediately. However, the more we chatted
and spent time with them, the more we felt at ease and
welcomed and in the end we were very sad to be leaving so
the project in Goljung and our first real shock. By this
time our Nepalese was coming on a little better and we were
feeling more confident to get stuck into communication……only
to find that in the village very few people spoke Nepalese!
Goljung is a Tamang village and they have their own dialect.
Our host family spoke Nepalese so this was not a problem but
when we got to the library on the first day, we found that
very few of the children understood our Nepalese or our
English. We did find that some children spoke better
Nepalese and English than the others and so they became our
invaluable translators for all lessons.
thought about how this problem could have been avoided and
have realized that it would have been impossible for the
staff in Kathmandu to have taught us any Tamang as this
isn’t their language. The only thing we can suggest is that
future volunteers could be given a little more warning of
the language difference and perhaps a small booklet with
some basic Tamang expressions and useful phrases could be
prepared for volunteers going to that placement.
in the placement differed from what we had been expecting to
do. Elena had been planning to spend most days working with
a health centre in the village but found that it only opened
one day while we were there, and I had planned to assist
with some construction but found no projects/work to help
with. Having said this we both had a fantastic time opening
the library twice a day and teaching the children. We tried
to impart some of our joint professional medical knowledge
onto these lessons rather than just straight English. We
introduced basics of self-hygiene, basic treatment of minor
wounds, ideas about infection and cleanliness. These we felt
went down very well and were absorbed by some of the
project and for a two days in the middle we took ourselves
away to do some trekking in the local area and were rewarded
by spectacular views and great mountain experiences.
whole we both feel strongly that Info Nepal is a fantastic
organization and is doing a great job in trying to improve
the quality of life of poorer people in Nepal. One thing we
did notice was that there are very many villages which now
have Info Nepal Libraries but these only open when
Volunteers are present. This we feel can lead to a lack of
continuity of learning for the children in those places. Two
ideas we had of how to solve this problem were:
1) - A
system of handover from one volunteer leaving a project to
the next one arriving at the same place.
this could be done if they overlap their time at the project
or meet in Kathmandu but obviously this will rarely happen.
The best other way would be to start a formal handover book
to detail, for example, times of opening of the library,
lessons taught, levels of attentions and speed of learning
of specific children etc etc. We detailed much of this is
our report in the logbook already in the library in Goljung
but perhaps it would be better to have a centrally held one
in the office in Kathmandu so that observation can be made
about progress in the different projects and comparisons
2) – A
system of involvement of a local resident to open the
several obstacles to overcome with this idea. The local
person must be trusted with a key and given responsibility
for maintaining the library in a good condition. The local
person would need to be paid for this. However, the benefits
of allowing the children regular access to resources held in
the libraries, even it were only for a piece of paper and a
pen to write and practice English, would be great.
have any other ideas that come to us we will definitely get
in contact with you to pass them on. We will also get on
thew internet at some point in the near future and write
some reports on the chat rooms etc about the work that Info
Nepal does – in both English and Spanish!!!
again Info Nepal for giving us such a special experience.
One that will stay with us for the rest of our lives…..or
until we are next back again with you!