Brilliant initiative and great results.
Have watched and read friends adventures with the initiative with great interest and admiration. This has inspired me to get involved here in England and to share with family and friends.
From Adventure to Achievement
4 years ago I thought that I really ought to start having adventures, after all I was not getting any younger and although I have lived a very satisfying life it has been risk free.
So, I set off to volunteer and travel in Nepal. I finally signed up with an organisation called Volunteers Initiative Nepal after countless hours on Google looking for reputable (and affordable) company.
Why Nepal? Well, there had recently been a devastating earthquake, women were very poor, ill-educated and seriously second-class citizens. I also had a connection in Nepal through Soroptimist International.
Arrival in Kathmandu
Wow! it was Tihar: The festival of lights This festival lasts for five days and it was an assault on the senses, Kathmandu that most exotic sounding of capital cities, was awash with noise and colour. As a treat I stayed at the Kathmandu Guest House which has seen many famous individuals staying, not least the Beatles and JFK. This did not prepare me for my home stay…..
Volunteering induction, firstly I was quite put out to find there were 2 volunteers older than me, Daisy and George were 84 years old and had come from Canada to Nepal to support the training of teachers. The good news is that means I have at least another 20 years of adventures.
I find myself with around a dozen volunteers from all corners of the globe (why do we use that phrase, it’s not as if the world is square?) Young French men have come to build toilets, young Americans come to teach English in Buddhist monasteries, young Antipodeans to teach women’s empowerment classes, a young Japanese girl to work in a nursery and an English and South African couple come to Nepal via China to teach in local schools, these are just some of the wonderful people I meet. We learn basic Nepalese words, get loads of hygiene warnings and instructions not to ride on the top of buses. We also firm up on our intended activity and I had signed up for empowerment and women’s enterprise training. Next stop Tinpiple and Rama’s house.
After a very bumpy hours ride out of Kathmandu, heading north (I think) dropped off at what I would describe as a modest dwelling and are warmly welcomed by the family especially their 11-year-old son Navin (a keen CR7 fan!) who becomes chief translator.
A routine quickly becomes established, chocolate biscuit and black tea for breakfast and dal baht in a pack up and a walk down the mountain to work.
Most of my time is spent working with Tina, a young Austrian woman putting together a fundraising proposal for the Jitpurphedi Women’s Agricultural Cooperative. We work in the VIN office or in a small hut in a nearby hotel with fantastic views over the valley. We meet with the Cooperative’s President and meet with the architect from Kathmandu and we measure the land and photograph the land registry document. We write to past volunteers and get over £1200 in before we leave.
I promise to raise the money and the women invite us back for the opening of the building.
Back in the UK, the promise weighs heavily on me and I am determined to fulfil it. I set up a not for profit (which takes nearly a year) Friends of VIN UK both to use as a fundraising vehicle and to support VIN. I am very lucky when my local soroptimist club SI Leeds makes a donation of £50,000. which means the project will go ahead.
I get regular updates on progress and visit the site in December 2018 with my fellow soroptimist Anne. it is very exciting and the women are already using the building for classes even though it is only a shell and still a building site (so much for Health and Safety!)
Finally, on 28th November, just 3 years since arriving the building is complete and formally inaugurated in front of hundreds of women and a number of VIP’s including a Minister of State.
I feel slightly overwhelmed by it all and can hardly believe it. I take time to reflect, I don’t want to rest on my laurels and look forward to my next project in Nepal.
I have served on the board of FVIN since 2012, and have visited the working sites in Nepal multiple times over the years. I have personally met with hundreds of beneficiaries of these programs, as well as the local staff who run them. I know firsthand the love and commitment that goes into this volunteer organization, and the great impact that it brings to the lives of poor people in rural Nepal. I believe wholeheartedly in FVIN mission to "to empower women and children in rural Nepal by supporting programs and opportunities that improve education, health, hygiene and economic well being." This work is important and the volunteers and donors who make up this organization are helping to bring the vision to life. Thank you, FVIN!
We have been working in partnership with Friends of Volunteers Initiative Nepal (FoVIN), USA from its start. Friend of VIN USA is a network of volunteers who work for the improved livelihood for the people in rural Nepal. This non-profit organization was founded by former volunteers with Volunteers Initiative Nepal. US Volunteers returning from Nepal have a huge admiration for VIN's work in Nepal. So through this non-profit, they keep the returning volunteers from VIN in a loop of communications and continue supporting VIN's work.
Dee Chapon, participated in our teaching volunteering project in 2009. She was placed in Dandagaun of JitpurPhedi Community for three weeks. Dee was very touched by the work, empowering marginalized communities through equitable, inclusive and holistic development programs, we have done in the community and also the basic need people had. During her volunteering time, one day Dee asked me what inspired me to set up Volunteers Initiative Nepal (VIN). I shared my story and she was very touched. She told me that she had set up an organization to support people but somehow it could not sustain.
She expressed her interest to support VIN’s project in a continuous basis. I curiously asked how would that be possible. Then we discussed the idea about FoVIN, USA. The volunteers who participated in our projects in Nepal could join the 501(c)(3) status FoVIN and make a difference. Dee together with our other past volunteers – Janelle, Marina, Drew, Ilyia were able to set up this organization. Dee handed over her leadership to Janelle. At the moment, Janelle is the President, Sadie Green is the Vice President, Thomas -Treasurer, Maddison Secretary and Dee board member.
FoVIN, USA mainly supports VIN by raising funds, promoting our projects and guiding us with their ideas and experiences. They have continuously been supporting our child sponsorship project. They also raised money for relief to support 2015 earthquake victims. FoVIN, USA has also raised $10,000 to help us build NaraTika Community Learning Center in the Everest region of Nepal.
We highly recommend everyone to join Friends of Volunteers Initiative Nepal, USA and be part of empowering the most marginalized communities in Nepal. FoVIN, USA is a great charity that you can trust. All the money they raise 100% goes to VIN’s work in Nepal.
Volunteers Initiative Nepal -www.volunteersinitiativenepal.org
Friends of VIN is a small but mighty organization. I have really enjoyed working with them and seeing them develop over time. Participating in the year-end fundraiser to sponsor education for disadvantaged girls in Nepal has been particularly enjoyable. Working with them has has inspired me, and I hope that I one day have an opportunity to volunteer in person in Nepal as well!