Volunteering or interning in Nepal will immerse you in the culture of this breathtaking Himalayan country. Volunteer programs include orphanage work and teaching in public schools or Buddhist monasteries. Volunteer/internship projects exist in women's rights and empowerment. Nepal is also one of our most popular destinations for medical and dental internships. Top off your program trekking in the Himalayas and this can truly be the experience of a lifetime.
The earthquake in April 2015 greatly damaged some villages and national treasures, so we are over the moon happy to announce the re-launch of our programs. Starting in late September (after the wet season), ELI volunteers arrive on a start date in Kathmandu for orientation then take a bus out to the countryside. Most locations are a moderate hike into the mountains, as some villages are not accessible by road. Volunteers live with a local family and work with school administrators to re-build damaged schools. Volunteers need to be flexible, as tasks are assigned as needed: Painting, laying bricks, landscaping, installing water purification systems, fence building, playground construction, gardening, teaching, and student support programs. Ready to roll up your sleeves?
ELI decided in 2014 to discontinue working with orphanages. It became clear that many were scam operations set up to make money. In 2015, UNICEF issued a statement on the situation READ. Our "Director's Blog" also has a posting titled "When Volunteering Becomes Big Business" Read. Still, if you had your heart set on working with orphans, perhaps you would be interested in a different program that we support. The Child Development Center is a daycare facility that helps the working poor. It provides a safe environment and early childhood education opportunities for the children of working parents who are unable to afford this "luxury." ELI volunteers work as activity coordinators: Playing with the children, coordinating games, teaching English, simple arithmatic or art classes, and giving these children some much needed attention. This is a great placement for independent, upbeat volunteers who want to make a difference in the lives of little ones.
Women's Program/Human Rights
"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, Volunteer
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. ELI partners with grassroots organizations that work tirelessly for the promotion of gender justice, non-discriminatory and rights-based behaviors and practices.
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 projects as needed. Volunteers and interns must be able to commit to at least 6-8 weeks, and bring a laptop for research and field work.
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 motivated 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 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.
Medical and dental interns are requested to bring a lab coat with them to Nepal, or have one tailored for them in Kathmandu ($10-$15USD). No scrubs.
"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
Teach Buddhist Monks
For motivated participants, ELI 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.
Schedules of course vary, but here's a snapshot of a typical day:
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.
Minimum time requirement is one month, in order to minimize disruption to the classrooms at the monastery.
Teach in 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. ELI teachers teach English vocabulary, lead basic writing exercises, and coordinate activities and games.
Veterinary and Animal Health Policy
Interns in this program work under the Ministry of Agriculture Development Department of Livestock Services. This department is responsible for the treatment of different animals (livestock and domesticated animals), and is also responsible for policy making for the Ministry of Animal Health. Further, it provides services for farmers: suggesting medicines, disease prevention protocol, and enhancing livestock breeding projects.
There is work appropriate for all participants, from animal enthusiasts to veterinarians and policy students. Depending on experience and interests, ELIers have the opportunity to observe and assist Nepali vets in the treatment of animals, including but not limited to cats, dogs, goats, chickens, donkeys, and water buffalo. Further, participants will learn about Nepali livestock breeding programs and challenges, such as Avian Influenza. Longer-term volunteers might be invited to accompany government officials on field work assignments as well. We ask that volunteers with this project be flexible, as projects are seasonal.