NAMASTE! A warm welcome to you from Nepal!
We’re so glad that you found us! Perhaps you have an urge to volunteer and give something back to the world, to share whatever skills and talents you may have, to share your spirit and your heart. Maybe you love children and want to help to care for some children that have so little and this urge lies within you like an itch. Perhaps you simply feel the call of Nepal?
Whatever your desire – you’ve come to the right place! Here at Volunteers Initiative Nepal (VIN) our mission is to empower marginalized communities in Nepal, and one of our focus areas is on children and their development.
NEPAL NEEDS VOLUNTEERS LIKE YOU!
One of the most challenging and exciting things you can do in your life is to live and volunteer in a Tibetan Buddhist Monastery in beautiful Nepal and spend your time teaching English to the Buddhist children(monks or nuns) who live there. Even if you are not Buddhist yourself you can gain so much experience and truly understand the meaning of giving and gaining by sharing your skills with a community in Nepal that could really use your support.Teach English to Buddhist monks!What is your time worth? When you can see the true happiness of a child who has nothing and know that you are making a difference, you will feel something that even the richest people on earth do not know. You are part of a bigger picture. If you are reading this and feel an excitement within, then perhaps your journey has already started!
When Tibet was invaded by China in 1959 thousands of Buddhist monks fled and lived in exile in Nepal. The Tibetan monks settled in Bouddha, north east of Kathmandu and there are now over twenty Buddhist Monasteries and Nunneries. While they are now free to practice their religion and express their culture and heritage, they remain an underprivileged and marginalized group in society.Opportunities exist to join them and teach English in these Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries.
In these Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and nunneries there are many children who live there full time, some of them do not have families of their own and many of them have been there for years. They live and learn everything completely from within their Buddhist Monastery:learning subjects such as Tibetan, Nepali, maths and English. Unfortunately the monasteries are often very understaffed and completely under-resourced. Sometimes there may only be 6 adults to over 200 children. Although it is one of the most disadvantaged countries in the world it is an enchanting land, filled with a wonderful spiritual people and within the walls of the Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries you will find these lovely, happy,beautiful children, ready to play and ready to be loved.They range in age from 8 to 18 and will change your life and your views on the world. Often the existing teachers are ex-monks who may have previously lived at the monastery and are coming back to pay their dues and are themselves not fluent in English nor hold teaching qualifications.
How can I help?
You can come and play with the children! You can teach them basic English conversation, you can assist in teaching them about hygiene, such as brushing teeth and washing hands. This work doesn’t sound like a lot but it is so important. Stay with the monks! Love the monks. The more English these children can learn the better their employment opportunities will be when they grow up. Exposing them to foreigners can also help teach them about the world and we encourage our volunteers to tell the children about their home countries: what animals live there, where it is on a world map, what languages you speak. If you can’t come all the way to volunteer in a Buddhist Monastery in Nepal donations can go a long way too. Information about how to make a donation, or how to sponsor a child is also on this website.
Do I have to be a qualified teacher?
No. Though of course if you do have a teaching qualification, experience in working with children or any teaching experience at all, then this will help your transition into the classroom for teaching in the Buddhist monastery. However if you do not, you will still have other skills and information that you can share with the children. We have ideas and lesson plans written by previous volunteers that can help get you started.
What type of people does this work suit?
All! If you believe in making a difference in this world, if you have a true passion and love for children and are patient, flexible, confident and completely open to having a new and incomparable experience whilst being able to cope with the challenges of being confronted with the situations in one of the poorest countries in the world – then this opportunity is for you! Volunteer at a Buddhist monastery and teach English, we guarantee it will be like nothing else you have experienced before.
Will I be safe?
Yes! VIN’s priority is to make sure that you are safe and as comfortable as possible. Of course, as with any travel, common sense prevails. It is always good to do some research on any country before you arrive. We will organise to meet you at the airport (Tribhuvan International) and will drive you back to a hotel that will be organised for you to stay in for the duration of a three day induction. After this we will organise your transport to the Buddhist Tibetan Monastery and ensure that you arrive safely. (If you arrive in Nepal prior to starting your volunteer work with VIN then we can still organise your transportation when the time comes to start with us).Many people wonder about how to live with Buddhist monks, but you will find your flow and soon enjoy yourself. We encourage fun! At VIN we will also give you tips on safety and health as part of your induction. This ranges from reminding you not to drink the tap water to explaining that in the villages it may be best to walk in pairs and not alone after dark. Make sure to take some time to read over the testimonials from all of our previous volunteers to give you an idea of the experiences that have been had before you. We have a Doctor on staff and for anything urgent our staff are also available 24 hours a day to support you.
How long should I volunteer for?
The volunteers who work in the monastery are expected to work up to four hours a day, six days a week (in Nepal we have a one day weekend every Saturday). Because of the time to integrate and for your own full immersion experience we recommend a one month time period or longer for teaching English to the Tibetan Buddhist monks in our monasteries program.
How can I prepare?
Prepare to have fun. Prepare to be challenged mentally. It is so important that you enjoy your work and are able to appreciate and respect the children. Remember, although they are monks and they are nuns, first and foremost they are children, and likewise respond well to love, patience and guidelines. No matter how much you read about living in Nepal, nothing can fully prepare you for how you will feel when you arrive in a Monastery to live and to teach. Sometimes the culture shock can be overwhelming for the first couple of days, sometimes seeing the underprivileged lifestyles of the children can be difficult. Sometimes the biggest challenges for our volunteers comes from the lack of creature comforts that they are familiar with such as: not being able to drink tap water, having to use squat toilets, dusty roads, no TV, and regular power cuts – Nepal Electricity Authority provides a rolling shared power grid resulting in hours of power outage per day. This isn’t just for you in the Monastery, this is how life is for everyone here in Nepal.So for the truest experience, volunteering to teach English in a monastery will give you the full immersion that you crave.
What can I expect from VIN?
You can expect us to meet you at the airport with a smile. You can look forward to the three day induction including some basic Nepali language, health tips and orientation to your project with tips on how to teach in a monastery. You will also meet other volunteers from around the world who may be in different projects with us. This is also invaluable as it allows volunteers to support each other, to form networks, to have people to debrief with and sometimes volunteers will even meet up with each other on Friday nights for a shared meal and a drink to relax before the weekend.
You will be provided with drinking water and hot standard meals every day. In the Monastery project you will eat with the monks, which is an experience in itself, as they must chant prayers before commencing eating. So we will greet you, introduce you and then support you for the entirety of your program.
Just don’t forget that this is a developing country and facilities are not what you would be used to in your home. If you let go of these expectations, and know that often there won’t be electricity, that it will be cold in winter without heating, that there may not always be hot water, not everyone will speak English and you may not be used to eating rice and dhal every day, through letting go of expectations you can learn to be free of all these things… if you embrace these differences and immerse yourself in the culture and the beauty of Nepali people you will gain something that no one else can experience.
Remember that we are all people of this planet and it is okay to live together this way with the locals and experience their way of life. You will go back home with memories and stories that you will be able to tell for years, knowing that you have played a small part in improving the world and the quality of life for people in Nepal who are a proud and kind people. Not many people can say that!
What are you waiting for?
Are there sightseeing places I can visit?
Yes. Nepal is beautiful and steeped in a strong tradition of Buddhism and Hindu cultures. There are many Buddhist temples and stupas that you can visit. Nepal is landlocked between China and India and is home to many of the most important pilgrimage sites in the world. As part of your orientation we will take you on a site seeing tour to visit some of the local temples and see some of the amazing things to be found in Kathmandu that make up the rich cultural tapestry of this country that we love so much. Also in your own free time, on days off or before or after your placement you may wish to visit some of the other beautiful areas outside of Kathmandu, such as Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha, SwayambhuStupa (also known as the Monkey temple for it’s animal visitors), Pokhara the second largest city in Nepal with it’s beautiful combination of lakes and mountains, Chitwan our National Park which also has the status of a World Heritage Site – just to name a few. Feel free to talk to us as we are able to help organise your plans.
Why do I need to pay if I am volunteering?
We are a non-government, non-religious, non-profit organization. This means that we do not get subsidies from the government and all of our money and profits get re-invested back into the communities that we are empowering. We need to pay our permanent Nepali staff so that they are able to organise the programs in the communities, to support our Nepali and international volunteers and to ensure that we can continue with our good work. We rely on donations and volunteers to support the important work that we do in giving women and children a chance for equality. When you pay us for this opportunity, some of the money will go directly into our programs in the villages, the money will also ensure that you have accommodation (including hotel accommodation during the induction period), you will receive hot meals while you are in your placement, you will receive three days worth of induction in our office, including health tips, cultural tips, basic language introduction, transport from the airport, transport for when you move into your program, local sightseeing, 24 hour support from our staff, and the opportunity to know that you are making a difference in this world.
Your time to stop dreaming and to make your adventure a reality has come. We look forward to welcoming you. The Buddhist Monastery is waiting for you here in Nepal.