At the beginning of this month I took my first 2Way Development trip to Nepal, spending eight days in Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Hetauda. Though we have worked with one partner in Nepal for many years, until now this has been the extent of 2Way’s presence in the country. My trip was focused on creating new partnerships with Nepalese NGOs. In total, I met with nine NGOs in Nepal, working on a wide range of different fields, including child labour within the carpet industry, environmental issues, women’s empowerment, investigative journalism, land rights and health. The volunteer needs for these organisations are equally varied, including fundraising, communications, project management, accountancy, web design, training content development, training facilitation, advocacy and healthcare. Over the next couple of weeks we will be working on completing the partnership process with these organisations, and start to offer them as potential placements to new volunteers.
Nepal would be a fantastic country for anyone to volunteer in. The landscape is beautiful, with the incredible Himalayas in the North of the country, and the jungles of the Terai in the South. The culture is fascinating, particularly the many different styles of temples, and the Durbar Squares of Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur. For those looking for more adventure, there is trekking, mountain biking, rafting and paragliding, among many other activities. Thanks to the Nepalese economy’s reliance on tourism, there are plenty of social activities and home comforts available for volunteers when needed.
The majority of the NGOs that I visited were based in Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital and the centre of the country’s development industry. Though chaotic, Kathmandu is always exciting, and is an excellent base for exploring the surrounding region. The temples and palaces are spectacular, as are the many restaurants and bars. Kathmandu would be an excellent place to network with other people in the development industry, including those working in local and international NGOs, and bilateral and multilateral organisations.
Bhaktapur is a beautiful little city, just a few kilometres outside of Kathmandu. The city is listed as a World Heritage Site for its culture, temples and artwork. Though touristy, it is much more relaxed and peaceful than Kathmandu, while remaining close enough to get to the capital in half an hour. Finally, Hetauda is located in the lowland Terai region, around 4 hours from Kathmandu. Outside of the main tourist circuit, it hasn’t been Westernised to the extent that other cities have, and would arguably provide a more ‘authentic’ Nepali experience. Despite this, it is very close to Chitwan National Park and is surrounded by beautiful countryside. The town is considered one of Nepal’s cleanest and greenest, which is supported by its beautiful tree-lined main street.
The opportunities available in Nepal will provide volunteers with an excellent placement, giving them valuable new skills, along with a chance to make a real difference to the work of grassroots organisations in Nepal.