Bristol Uni students visit PSD-Nepal

Experience of Volunteers

We – Anna, Ellie, Molly, and Libby – are English volunteers through Bristol Volunteers for Development Abroad (BVDA) who have come to Nepal to work with our partner PSD with the aim of making a sustainable difference in a rural community in the Baglung district. We arrived in Nepal feeling excited about our adventure ahead. We had 3 days of full training to get ready for the project in Sima. In the mornings we learned Nepali with Sushila which ended up helping us so much in the village to communicate and connect with the community. In the afternoons we learned about Nepali culture, details of the project, and different teaching techniques to make sure we were ready. All of this preparation proved so helpful throughout the project. We then took a bus to Baglung. Here we met BP Sharma, the chairman of Sima, the village in which we completed our project. The next morning we took a jeep to the village and met our host family. Our host family had prepared the most delicious food for us on arrival. We loved living with this family, they were so hospitable, kind, and always ready to care for and look after our needs. Living with the host family was a highlight of the project, it meant we were immersed in village life and after no time at all were walking the buffalos and helping to cook. Village life was very different from England and Kathmandu so it took us a few days to get used to the slow-paced, relaxed lifestyle. However, we slowly adjusted and were able to enjoy the beautiful views of the mountain from our house. On our first day, we went with BP to visit the village office where we had a small welcoming ceremony and took pictures.

We felt well and truly welcomed to the village and excited to start the project. We started the project by helping to construct a women’s bathroom in Salam. The project began with another welcome ceremony with flowers and blessings from the local people. Again, we felt so welcomed into this community, despite the site being in another village, over an hour’s walk from our host’s family home. Alongside skilled laborers, we helped carry cement and stones to aid the building work. It was so fun learning to carry building materials in dokos with the help of the villagers and really felt like we were working as a team.

After the bathroom was constructed we painted the whole building inside and outside a bright turquoise color which was really rewarding to transform a bare spot in the village into a bright bathroom. The shower will be used by around 50 women, meaning they have their privacy when showering and washing clothes. We hope this will drastically improve the women’s quality of life.

We also carried out road maintenance on stretches of road in and around Sima. This was very rewarding as the condition of the roads was something we noticed right away, especially as it was monsoon season, the roads were flowing with water which meant vehicles had to travel slower and there were road damages from landslides. Alongside local people, we dug channels at the side of roads in order to divert the flow of this water. Moreover, we helped slot large boulders and rocks into a jigsaw-type manner to make a sturdy and long-lasting road surface for the vehicles to travel over and make the surface less slippery for people and animals walking. This project was so rewarding as the difference it made was tangible and we quickly saw the results, within one afternoon a large stretch of road could be drastically improved.

The majority of our time in Sima was spent teaching English at the local primary school. Getting to know all the bright, funny and kind children and teachers was one of the highlights of the trip. They were so curious to learn and a pleasure to teach. We started teaching the highest grades, creating paintings and written descriptions of their families. In my younger years, we played games and taught English songs. The children also enjoyed the extracurricular activities we did with them and especially loved playing with the cricket, volleyball, and skipping equipment we provided for the school. We thoroughly enjoyed teaching at the school and noticed that a lot of the children’s English improved and hope they continue improving their English language skills.

At the school, we also painted three of the classrooms and designed a mural to paint in one of them too. The children in the school all helped us to prepare the classrooms, scraping off glue and paper from the walls and washing the walls ready to paint. We loved transforming the classrooms to bright white and red, and think it has drastically improved the working environment in these classrooms. The mural was also one of the most fun parts of the project and allowed us to get creative designing, drawing up, and painting our colorful Nepali mountain range. This really felt like a tangible impact and we felt like we got to leave something behind for the school that we grew to really care about.

Overall, this project has been one of the most incredible adventures that any of us have experienced yet, and we’re so grateful for the kindness and support that the community of Sima and Bishnu, PSD offered us. We got to learn so much about ourselves, and a completely new culture and community that we never have had the chance to experience otherwise. We believe the project has made a sustainable impact on Sima and hope that we have made a long-lasting personal impact on the community too.

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