The volunteer house is about a 10-15 minute walk from Thamel, the tourist district. In addition to the two girls I met while in Doha, there are four other volunteers here. Diana and I are sharing a room on the third floor which just has a bed and coat rack in it. We went out and bought some cheap plastic shelves so we would have somewhere to put our stuff. The second and third floors each have three bedrooms for volunteers and one bathroom. The first floor is the ELI office and the second floor has the kitchen. We get breakfast and dinner at the house every day from our two cooks, Ram Dai and Mina. The house has a roof that we can go out and sit on and look out over the city and the mountains.
On my second day here (Tuesday March 10), we had orientation which consisted of a brief language course, presentation about Nepal and a walking tour to the monkey temple, Swayambhunath. There were so many steps, 365 to be exact. The walk was worth it once we got to the top. The view was spectacular. We were overlooking all of Kathmandu Valley and the Himalayas. It feels like the mountains are so close!
On Wednesday Diana and I went to our volunteer site for the first time, the Child Development Center (CDC). It is basically a preschool for low income families and is attached to a school about a 30 minute walk from our house. There are about 15 kids ages 2-4 in the class and one teacher. The classroom is one small room with a few toys scattered around and a cabinet that houses some coloring books, crayons, and notebooks. The kids are adorable but most of them have colds at the moment so it’s only a matter of time before I get sick. We just stopped in for about 10 minutes to observe and introduce ourselves then got a tour of the school. We went to each classroom and introduced ourselves. The kids were so excited to meet us, the older ones had tons of questions since they wanted to practice their English out on us. After we introduced ourselves, we headed back to the house.
Thursday was our official start day. We typically will help out in the classroom for a few hours in the morning. It was a lot of fun. Some of the kids were shy at first but they opened up after a little bit. They are just learning how to hold/write with pencils and it was only their second day of trying to write a straight line. It was cool to see how excited they were when they finally got it. After we were done at the CDC we stopped for lunch on the way home at this sketchy, tiny local restaurant. We were starving and it looked like it could be okay. Our meal didn’t even cost $1 each and we didn’t get sick!
Once we got back I went with Amrit, one of the ELI employees, and took a taxi to the airport for one last attempt at finding my missing bag. It didn’t even take me 10 minutes to find it. The chaos had nearly completely died down. The bags were lined up by airline with big signs above them. Once we got back to the house, the ELI tour guide Shiva, took us on a tour to the next city over, Patan. We went to Patan Durbar Square which is an ancient part of the city with an old palace and temples. To get there we took two different buses. As Papa would say, they were “something else.” The ride only costs 15 rupees which is 15 cents. The bus was actually just a van with lots of seats and even after I thought we were full, more and more people kept piling in. People were standing, sitting on each other, and squeezed onto benches. The city itself was cool to see. The buildings were beautiful and Shiva was giving us the story behind each of the temples/statues. Patan Durbar Square overlooks the Himalayas and is closer to them then Kathmandu. It was a clear day and we could clearly see the snowcapped peaks directly in between the palace and the temple.
On Friday, we headed back to the CDC. One girl, Sumina, refuses to participate and just cries most of the time. She won’t write, color, play, eat or do anything. We are pretty sure she just wanted attention. I brought play doh from home for the kids and they were so excited to play with it. They had never seen anything like it, neither had the teacher. It was funny to see the kids but funnier to see how excited the teacher would get when she would think of new things to make with the play doh. At first, Sumina wouldn’t take any play doh she was just sitting in the corner but after a few minutes I looked over and she was having the time of her life playing with everyone. Afterwards, we stopped at another local restaurant and had lunch. Again, we did not get sick! 2 for 2! We had dinner in Thamel, the tourist district, with some people we had met while stranded in Qatar.
See Sarah's blog here.
For more on Nepal, click here.