There is no country more beloved by those who have visited than Nepal. Its warm and friendly people, a rich cultural heritage, and scenic beauty defy the imagination. Nepal is one of the few places where Hindus and Buddhists live together in harmony. This country has long been a popular destination for explorers and nature lovers. At any given moment Kathmandu is overflowing with visitors from all corners of the globe.
The hot terai of the north Indian plains gives way to the foothills, then rise dramatically skyward to the icy Himalayan peaks, topping off at Mt. Everest - the highest point on earth at 8850m. Visitors revel in experiencing some of the most incredible trekking in the world, white water rafting, visiting game parks and nature preserves, or simply spending the day leisurely floating on the peaceful waters of Phewa Tal in Pokhara.
In spite of these natural blessings, Nepal is one of the poorest countries ELI works in. With a per capita income of approx $490 per year, most Nepalese live well below the poverty line. Different efforts have been made through governmental organizations to improve the deteriorating situation, but the villages of Nepal show very few effects of relief and development efforts.
Thousands of Nepali children are orphans, and the numbers are on the rise. ELI has been working closely with several orphanages in the Kathmandu Valley that need assistance to provide basic care and education for their children. ELI volunteers work as activity coordinators: Playing with the children, coordinating games, teaching English, math or art classes, and giving these children some much needed attention. The children range in age from toddlers to teenagers. This is a great placement for independent, upbeat volunteers who want to make a difference in the lives of little ones.
"I wanted to find out if I could see myself doing international aid work. And now I think I can. [In college] I’m also studying poverty issues, and it was fascinating to see principles that we talk about in class and see how they play out in real life. In class they seem very straightforward: you do X, Y and Z and fix everything. And then you go to a place like Nepal and see things are a lot more complicated than that..." -Zack, 2011.Read Zack's complete interview here.
ELIers Bryce and Melissa took the kids from their orphanage to Nagarkot for the weekend, check out their adventure here.
Women's Rights/Human Rights
Our partner organizations work tirelessly for the promotion of gender justice, non-discriminatory and rights-based behaviors and practices. Among the thousands of individuals who are trafficked across Nepal’s borders every year, the majority are women and children. It is estimated that Nepali women aged 15-30 make up 2.8% of the women in Indian brothels, and the numbers are sharply rising.
These placements are open to participants holding a BA in a relevant field or those with significant NGO experience who are motivated and do not require a lot of supervision. Participants in this program often assist with research, reports, and grassroots projects as needed. Volunteers and interns must be able to commit to at least 6-8 weeks.
ELIers Jackson chats about his human rights internship and shares photos:
Medical & Dental
It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of Nepali people, especially women and children, suffer unnecessarily due to a lack of basic medical care. Interning at a hospital in Nepal provides participants an opportunity to learn about healthcare in a developing country and about tropical diseases. Pre-meds with relevant completed coursework, nursing students, medical students, and medical professionals are welcome to apply. This placement is ideal for students who wish to learn about medical care in a developing Asian country. Students are sometimes invited to observe surgeries. This program fills up during the summer, so we recommend applying early for May, June and July arrival dates. ELI Medical Intern Ben completed a photojournal, check out his adventure here.
ELI has partnered with a prominent dental school and dental hospital in the heart of Kathmandu, offering ELI interns a one-of-a-kind opportunity to learn alongside Nepali dental students. These positions are open to dental students and junior/senior level undergraduates who have some related experience/education and plan to pursue a career in the field. From time to time interns are also invited to assist with free dental camps for the poor.
"I met some amazing people while in Nepal and got to see a lot of things I would not have seen otherwise. I would definitely recommend that if a person were going to volunteer in Nepal to try to stay at least 4 weeks in the country. I could not because of a previous commitment, but I would have otherwise! ...Had I stayed longer, I think I would have considered doing another volunteering placement – either another hospital or perhaps teaching English." -Rami, Medical Intern 2011
Teach Buddhist Monks
Teaching at a monastery is a great way to make a difference in the lives of little ones, and learn about Buddhism at the same time. ELI also offers a dual program: Volunteers spend 3 sessions a week teaching English classes at a monastery, and spend off mornings and afternoons at a nearby orphanage leading activites, mentoring and tutoring children. Minimum time requirement is one month, but two months is preferred in order to minimize disruption to the classrooms at the monastery.
Schedules of course vary, but here's a snapshot of a typical day with a dual placement:
7 AM – 8 AM: Breakfast time at the orphanage. Volunteer can distribute food for kids and help in kitchen. Volunteers take breakfast after the children.
8 AM-9AM: Time for kids to go school, volunteer can help kids to get ready for school (sanitation, dressing, packing).
9 AM-10 AM: Volunteers take kids to school or make sure they get on the bus.
10 AM- 3 PM: Teaching at Monastery – English class, sometimes a basic computer class.
4:30 PM - 6:00 Kids comes back from school, volunteers bring kids back to orphanage safely. Help them to change and tidy their rooms. Homework and play time before dinner.
Here is a sample itinerary for a full time monastery volunteer:
9 AM: Arrive
9:15-10 AM: Intermediate class (averages eight monks, ages 11-18)
10-10:30 AM: Tea break
10:30-11:15: Beginning class (nine monks, ages 6-13)
11:15-12 PM: Advanced class (nine monks, ages 15-28)
Then I stayed around to play with the boys (whichever ones didn’t have class at the time) from 12:30 until about 3:00.
"I cannot even begin to express how much this monastery means to me. They completely welcomed me into their 'family' and made me feel comfortable and valued... Kunga was so helpful, friendly and went out of his way to explain the customs, history, traditions, etc. to me whenever possible."- Lizzy, 2013 Volunteer
Teach at Public Schools
Teaching English can be a rewarding way to get to know the community and help children learn a very useful skill. Public education is a relatively new concept in Nepal - it began in 1951 and continues to face challenges. Teachers and community members have been working hard to ensure the success of their education system but they lack funds. Volunteers are an invaluable asset to these institutions. Children's programs are fun and they are a great way to make a difference in the lives of little ones. Everyone can contribute! Volunteers in these programs live together in the volunteer house and teach either at a public school or a school for HIV+ children. ELI teachers teach English vocabulary, lead basic writing exercises, and coordinate activities and games.
For similar resources on other countries and programs, please see the "Experiences" tab above.
"The accommodations were much better than I could have expected and I was really happy with the house and the people that worked there." -Daniel E.
"You will have the time of your life as the people and culture combine to promote personal growth in many aspects." -Tara S.
"I frequently went to Thamel after volunteering because it was just a few minutes away from the house, and I really liked hanging out with fellow volunteers over there. We always had a lot to do. I visited sights in the city like Durbar Square, the Monkey Temple, Boudhanath, Pashupatinath, Patan, and the Garden of Dreams. They were all beautiful, so I’d definitely recommend visiting there. I also did the Everest Flight, which I would suggest to anyone who really wants to get a good look at all the mountain peaks. My stay was short compared to the other volunteers, but I was able to fit in a few away trips, including Chitwan over the weekend (great if you want to get away from the city and get some fresh air/nature), and bungee jumping at the Last Resort, which I would definitely recommend to everyone (that is, if they’re not afraid of heights and don’t mind climbing up a small mountain to get back to the resort)! Just remember to wear proper fitting boots or sneakers, or you might lose them during your jump like I did." -Christina D.
"Walk into it with an open mind and don’t expect to change the world. Go into it thinking you’re doing this for a cultural experience and you’re there to learn something about yourself and where you came from. I really enjoyed the experience because it was so different from anything I was used to. Everyone should go abroad in their lifetime!"-Laura M.
"During my free time I visited Pokhara, Chitwan and Lumbini while also spending one day with The Last Resort bungee program. I would highly recommend all of these to incoming volunteers. Chitwan and Pokhara especially, as they are beautiful places that any person going to Nepal should experience. Lumbini I would recommend to those who have an interest in Buddha and Buddhism, as there is little else to see besides the monuments and stupas dedicated to the Buddha and his birthplace. After Nepal, I also traveled in India, which I would recommend to any open-minded traveler. McLeod Ganj, Varanasi, and Delhi were my favorite destinations because of the temples, architecture, and monuments they have to offer. Though my highest recommendation would be Kashmir in northern India. Kashmir featured the nicest climate and nicest people outside of Nepal while also providing a spectacular view of the mountains and lakes in the area." -Bryce A.
"I met some amazing people while in Nepal and got to see a lot of things I would not have seen otherwise. I would definitely recommend that if a person were going to volunteer in Nepal to try to stay at least 4 weeks in the country. I could not because of a previous commitment, but I would have otherwise!" - Rami E.
* Pre-Departure Information * Pick-Up from the Airport in Kathmandu * City Tour/Orientation Half Day * Volunteer/Internship Position * Accommodation in ELI's Volunteer House in Thamel * Breakfast and Dinner at ELI's Volunteer House * 24/7 Emergency Service
Program Does Not Include:
*Round-Trip Airfare *Return Trip to Airport (it's a short taxi ride) *Required Travel and Medical Insurance *Visa Fees
ELI participants in Kathmandu live together in our new volunteer house, located on the edge of Thamel (Kathmandu's tourist district). Our house is located close to shops, cafes, English language bookstores, and easy access to all forms of transportation. Bedrooms are shared when the house is at capacity, so be prepared to have lovely roommates during the busy seasons (summer and fall). There are western style flushing toilets, stand-up showers, WIFI in the main living area, and solar panels that provide warm water (depending on the sun). There is electricity, but availability depends on the rolling black outs. Please note, none of the buildings in Kathmandu offer indoor heat - if you are going in the winter be sure to pack a warm coat.
If you are interested in alternative housing, we can also sometimes arrange a room at an orphanage or a homestay.
2013: September 30, (no arrivals during Dashain), October 21, October 28, November 11, November 25 2014: Open arrivals through winter and early spring. Arrival dates start back up: May 19, May 26, June 2, June 16, June 30, July 14, July 28, August 11, August 25, September 8, September 22
Application Fee: $100 for all programs in Nepal (Separate from the program fee, refundable only if we are unable to find a placement that matches your request).
Length of Program
ELI Youth Initiative (project must end by May 15, 2014)
Program Fee Internships
The programs in Nepal can last up to five months because of local visa restrictions. The program fee is higher for medical and dental programs because hospitals charge a fee for taking on foreign interns.
Sample Budget: $100 application fee, program fee (depends on duration), visa fee (depends on duration), $50 a week for lunch and getting around, spending money for weekend trips (riding the elephants in Chitwan, renting a boat in Pokhara, rafting, bungee jumping, trekking, etc).