Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Our Blog Is Moving!

Hi All,

Just a quick note to say our blog will be moving to our brand new website in upcoming weeks! It's all very exciting but unfortunately we will not be posting any blogs until the site is up and running!

Please continue to keep up to date with the goings on here on base in Pokhara through our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Thank you to all our followers for supporting our blog, we are looking forward to getting the new one up and running as soon as possible - so stay tuned!

All the best for 2014

Team GVI Nepal


Saturday, November 9, 2013

Dal Bhat and Chowmein the Cat

Outside of our volunteer work, opportunity is abound in Pokhara for yoga, trekking, paragliding and more. But sometimes a simple pleasure can be found in an afternoon spent at one of the many local restaurants with a book and masala tea. One of my favourite hang outs also includes a feline by the name of Chowmein. She and I are happy to chill out together for a few hours while enjoying one of the many great books based in Nepal. Right now I'm reading 'Arresting God in Kathmandu' by Samrat Upadhyay. I didn't expect my visit to include such literary enlightenment, but I am surprised daily by this land...

By Janine Mullett - 9wk Teaching Volunteer


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Garden of Eden by Val and Derek

Well, Children's Paradise School is closed for the first day of the holidays today but we are going in as usual to try to make a garden area for the children at the back of the school playground.

GVI purchased and donated a number of plants which we managed - with some difficulty - to get to the school yesterday on the school mini bus. Earlier in the week I prodded the raised area where we intend to make the garden and found that it was about 90% stone and rubble - not at all like that loamy soil that parts like flour when they stick a spade in it on those TV gardening programmes. I casually asked if they might have a garden sieve just to see what reaction I got. It was the expected reaction. So could they get something like chicken wire I asked next. And spades? Well the Nepalis don't actually use spades we were told, only short handled hacking tools. But we could have 3 of them! Great!

At this point I was beginning to think that maybe constructing a chicken coup would be a better idea. The children could see a bit of wildlife while they were playing, be taught a bit about where eggs come from, and best of all, they could have (and I could have) a boiled egg for breakfast every day. Mind you - 28 or so children - I started to ponder how many chickens I would need to provide each of them, and me, with an egg every day. And would fights start when someone didn't get an egg. And would they be brown eggs or white eggs and what do chickens feed on, and who would feed them........So it was back to Plan A, a garden with plants.

Luckily Val and I have packed our gardening clothes and a pair of wellies each in our luggage - NOT ! Flip flops were the next best thing. And flip flops and my swimming shorts (not speedos you will be extremely pleased to hear) seemed like as good an outfit that any gardener could desire.

So, back to the garden making. We tried out one or two ideas with the chicken wire, including stretching it across an old car trye to make a garden sieve. But in the end it proved best to have one person hold each end of the wire , heap the "soil" onto it, and wiggle it about to get the soil through and then just heap the stones away.

I cannot tell you how many bricks we uncovered, at least enough to build a small house. OK, maybe I exagerate, but maybe a small brick built chicken coup. And we filled a number of old rice sacks with stones. Very thirsty work in the heat out here.

Whilst myself, another volunteer and Sandeep (the principles husband) sweated sieving soil, Val and new staff member Adele were scrubbing plants pots to put at the front of the school, re-potting other plants and washing the back wall which has a delightful painting on it.

And ,bit by bit, the rubble was separated from the soil and the bags of stones piled up and we levelled off the ground and, after stopping for a lunch break (more dal bhat cooked by Bunty and also buffalo meat!!), we were ready to decide where we wanted to put the plants. All in all a hard day's work but looked good when finished - when we go back to the school Monday week after the holidays we hope they will all still be alive and survived the Nepali heat and found some nutrient in the soil. Not sure if the children at the Paradise school will think it is the Garden of Eden but you never know.

By Derek and Val Spicer - 4wk Healthcare volunteers 


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Cheryl shares her best and worst experience during her time in Nepal

It is almost the end of my time in Pokhara and my time with GVI. I can remember the first day turning up here and feeling so nervous about meeting the other volunteers and going to the projects. I had nothing to worry about because everyone has been great. As an older volunteer (almost 50 years old), I was worried that there would only be young people on the program and I might not fit in, but I was so happy when I saw Ran and Sherrie who were about my age. I found them wonderful support and kindred spirits. However, the young people that I have come to know over the last two weeks have been so friendly and supportive, and I am lucky to have had the opportunity to meet them. They have great futures ahead of them!!!!

 The project I was involved in was at the school in Pame, and I have to say, that this was challenging for me. I come from a regimented secondary school where technology is used everyday in the classroom and resources are abundant, but at Pame the only resources you have are the textbooks and your own creativity. I had to remind myself that this is a developing country and their education system is still developing and will continue to develop long after I have left. I must admit that I was very much out of my comfort zone, but I survived and believe the whole experience has made me a far better teacher and person.  While this whole experience has given me much, I just hope that my teaching at Pame also gave something positive to the students and teachers.

My best experience…. watching Nikita (a special needs student with spina bifida) read an aboriginal dreaming story about my country (Australia) and the look of wonderment on her beautiful face.

My worst experience… being sick on the bus to Chitawan, having to get off the bus and find my way back to the homestay…  I had forgotten (stupidly) to take all of the contact phone numbers with me and had no one to call.

Thanks Ruth and Lok for a wonderful experience and for being great role models and support.

By Cheryl Dimmock – 2 week teaching volunteer 


Saturday, September 28, 2013

Adrian's First Impressions

“That’s crazy!” So comes the response from everyone, my family to the chiropractor, when they ask what I’m going to do next. Now is the time for a new adventure.

I’m in a plane flying over Nepal.

Seeing a different country to your home for the first time is a deeply spiritual experience. Some people instantly realise the vastness of the Earth and they shrink. In their heart they feel that the universe is not just huge, but mind-bogglingly big and we are merely peanuts. As for me, my heart stops. This far-away land, which only existed in my imagination or in documentaries, is now right below me. The world has shrunk. I feel bigger and more alive than ever!

Looking down below I see the beautiful village life of the Nepali. Houses are dotted along the peaks of mountains and crops have been carved into the hill-sides. Life looks simple and peaceful. As I get closer to Kathmandu housing density increases and two things hit me. First is the massive difference in wealth between households. The lower income earners of the western world enjoy complaining about the massive wealth gap in their country. Soaring through the sky of Nepal, I can see what a real wealth gap looks like. Slum homes built from mud with roofs made from corrugated sheets of metal held down by rocks sit next door to multi-story homes, manually crafted from stone standing tall and proud.

The second thing to his me is the colour! The homes are scattered and shine brightly among the lush green surroundings. I feel like a hyperactive 4 year old kid looking at my hundreds-and-thousands covered birthday cake. My eyes grow ever wider with amazement as I absorb my first glimpse of a new land.

Up until now I have spent my life as a westerner, living a white life with creature comforts. All is about to change. As the plane touches down I sit still, close my eyes, and wonder; “what will happen next?” Speechless, I step out of the plane into a new world.

Travelling in a taxi from the airport to my hotel was an experience in itself. The very moment I appeared out of the airport 10 people descended on me offering to carry my bag. I am tired and overwhelmed. After finally getting my bags into the taxi one of the 10, who did absolutely nothing, harasses me for a tip, 5 rupees (approximately 5 Aussie cents) made him go away – an unworthy amount, even in Nepal.

Now, I can only offer you one piece of advice for travelling on the roads in Nepal. Stay calm. Your taxi driver will fly down pot-hole covered streets. He’ll mostly keep to the left while constantly shooting across to the right overtaking those ahead and only missing the oncoming traffic by a hair’s width. Stay calm. Wind down the window and soak in the amazing scenery. You’ll see shopping centres; children playing games; well dressed men and beautiful women going about their daily lives while the smell of s*** and vomit courses down your lungs.

This place is completely different from anything I have ever experienced; my first time to another country.

I am now alone in the middle of Kathmandu. People are in my face, they want rupees or to sell me drugs. The streets are incredibly narrow forcing a constant game of extreme dodgem-cars. I am yet to get myself across the country along one of our world’s most dangerous roads. I cannot help but wonder, "Is this how stupid people die?"

Life here is different, really different. I must remind myself all the time that I am the foreigner here. People here do things differently, and as a new friend just explained to me, they are not wrong. The culture here is based on different values. What they do is the right thing according to their value system. But one thing is striking, our very own European based culture used to be exactly the same. Here, they beat children in school for getting the wrong answer; we once did the exact same thing. They have a lower respect for women; remember the women’s rights movements 1848-1920? They have a cast system here; hundreds of years ago Europe had presents, land lords, knights, noble men and royalty. No different. In many ways Nepal is poles apart from us. In other ways, it’s like look back on our own history and appreciating the culture that many great men and women before us have built.

Over the next two months I will be teaching primary children everything from English to maths and computer science. This is not how stupid people die; this is how the adventurous thrive!

By Adrian Letchford - 2 month teaching volunteer 


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Epilepsy Workshop

Buntty, Sandeep, and Nikita with volunteers
Hunter, Lovisa, May and Jeigh

For me the most important day I had on project was when we went through basic first aid, basic life support and epilepsy training with the teachers (Didis) at Children’s Paradise Preschool. Children’s Paradise is an amazing place that does amazing things, however,  some of these children have complex medical issues. Many of them have epilepsy.

May giving a presentation to the parents of those children
with Special Needs at Children's Paradise
Basic first aid is essential for anyone working with children. We had a lovely young girl cut her chin one day and it was us who dealt with the cut, cleaned and washed it. It may seem simple but being able to deal with cuts and grazes effectively can never be underestimated. Prevention of infections and illnesses are important in all communities.

Anyone faced with an epileptic fit would be terrified, and the threat of someone having a seizure can build up to be even scarier as time goes on. Of all of the children in Children’s paradise it is Govinder who worries me the most. He has been having seizures from a very young age and still has them weekly. As yet he hasn’t had one in the school. Basic life support and epilepsy training was a chance to give the Didis support for if such an event happened. Ruth & I ran a workshop where we combined talking and teaching, with roleplay and practical activities to give them the confidence to deal with any situation. We also worked with them to come up with an action plan if anything were to happen so they knew exactly what to do and who to inform.
May and C.P's Principal and Founder, Buntty

The work that Children’s Paradise does is incredible and I am so proud and happy to have helped provide them with another tool for their skill set to enable them to do the work they do!

Volunteer and Junior Doctor May-Li Seah

May and her student Nikita at Children's Paradise


Monday, August 5, 2013

Rice Planting

On a sunny Thursday the whole of GVI Nepal’s staff and volunteers took the bumpy bus ride out to Pame Village to some of the rice fields.  We were very excited to learn from local farmers and their wives the art of traditional rice planting.

As we stood on the hill overlooking the fields we knew it was going to be a long day of hard work.  First of all the field had to be levelled.  This was done by an ox dragging a wooden plough.  A few volunteers jumped at the chance to have a go steering the ox and ended up with mud all over their clothes, but it was really fun.

The local farmers showed us down to the rice fields where we all stood in mud and learnt to plant rice.  This really gave us an insight into how much work goes into a single packet or bag of rice.
We were exhausted after planting only two fields while the farmers and their wives did so many more – they were so fast!

After so much hard work, we were lucky to be spoiled with some delicious Nepali food.  It was a really unique experience which we won’t forget – especially the fact that we all avoided getting any leeches.

Volunteers Martina and Amy