I spent 5 weeks at Her Farm in April/May and had one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Not your typical volunteering programme - this is an opportunity to become part of a community and a family, live a truly authentic Nepali lifestyle and make a difference to their lives. Go with an open mind: this volunteering programme is broad. It is as much as you make of it, and be prepared to learn as much from these incredibly strong, powerful women, as you will be able to teach them. Very grateful to have been able to live in this beautiful place, have met these amazing women and be able to call them my sisters.
Working with the Mountain Fund was an unforgettable experience. The people alone made the trip worth the while. Being at the Kathmandu house and Her Farm, it is hard to see the people who work there as an organization because they come off far more strongly as a family. Volunteering with them, I was able to become part of that family. The sisters are some of the most genuinely thoughtful and caring people I have met and it was always a pleasure to be around them. They took great care of me and accommodated me in every way possible.
The organization sets itself apart in a few ways. First, everyone who works there cares deeply for Nepal. I witnessed the love and concern for the country from everyone I spoke to. Second, the mission is gravely needed. The issues Mountain Fund address are serious and I'm glad people are making efforts to fix them. Admittedly, the organization is too small at the moment to attempt to change practices on a national level, but each person they help makes the effort worthwhile.
Being at Her Farm was a much needed change in perspective. It's hard to fathom what people in other countries go through and live like without experiencing it firsthand. The learning aspect alone made me appreciate my trip, but the opportunity to contribute to the cause as a volunteer made it all the better. I highly recommend the Mountain Fund and Her Farm in particular for anyone who wants to experience and/or help Nepal.
I have had a wonderful time in mountain volunteers! I have a high degree of freedom to rotate in different departments in Helping Hand Community Hospital in Kathmandu during the Pre-MED program. The health care workers there are very willing to share their experience of work to me.
Besides hospital attachment, I also joined a village visit for 2 days during which pediatricians carried out general body check for children. I have learned some clinical knowledge and made friends with local people as well as foreign volunteers from the US.
The sisters in the house took care of almost everything and they are indeed very nice to the volunteers! Their arrangement on the living was great. I highly recommend Pre-MED program and Her Farm program to everyone! From these programs you can definitely help the underprivileged Nepalese, and make true friends with other volunteers and nice, local Nepalese. You won't regret to volunteer through mountain volunteers!
My name is Mitch Metzger and I volunteered on HerFarm for a little over a month. Honestly there is no review, no amount of words I can write, to convey how much the farm means to me. I've done a lot of volunteer work around the world, and most of the time I leave disillusioned and angry, all they do is give volunteers the "feel goods" for their money without actually doing anything or even perpetuate the problems they want to solve. Not so with this project. It will actually change the way you see the world if you care enough to let it.
The Mountain Volunteer is fundamentally different from anything I've experienced. They are a family, and for a brief time (too brief in most people;s experience) they wholeheartedly welcome you into that family. Scott and Sunita are incredible people and did more for me without a second thought than most people in my life ever have. The girls on the farm are the strongest, kindest, most beautiful people I've ever had the privilege of being around. They are smart and very welcoming, and will do all they can to make you feel at home.
If you want a vacation, if you want the hotel experience while doing a little bit of volunteering then honestly this is not for you. But if you want to experience the real Nepal, one most tourists will never see, if you want to do meaningful work for extraordinary people in a setting that will blow your mind (sunrise over the Himalayas anyone?), and if you want to be a part of something bigger than yourself then this is exactly the place for you.
Living at the farm was the happiest I've ever been and since the moment I returned to America I've been planning on how to get back.
I volunteered with the Mountain Fund in 2015. The experiece was great. They were a small enough organization that things were not completely planned out, but they actually had work that you could help with. The staff and Nepali ladies living there made you feel incredibly welcome and were very kind and fun to live with. I felt that I actually helped (which, on other volunteering experiences, I haven't always) and I felt that they wanted to learn from me and teach me. It was a very good experience. Not too templated or organized but well enough managed and run that it was a very good experience. Thank you!
Volunteering with the Mountain Fund at Her Farm was a truly life changing event. The women are truly inspirational, and Sunita is one of the strongest, vivacious, innovative women I have ever met. She has inspired me to do so much, and her strength motivates me every day. She has the biggest heart, and more drive and resilience than any one I have ever met. Despite surviving the earthquake, and what felt like endless aftershocks in Nepal, I have never had a more amazing experience. Scott is fascinating to talk to, he has taught me so much about sustainable development, women's rights in third world countries, American Politics (I'm a Brit) and life in Nepal than I thought it possible. Three months at the Her Farm taught me more about humanity, and strength than anything else. The Mountain Fund is an example if an exemplary NGO, and despite volunteering with and meeting numerous NGO's in Sri Lanka and Cambodia, none of them have quite what Her Farm has.
I was terrified travelling to Nepal. I was 19 and it was my first trip alone, and my second time outside of Europe. Within about 30 seconds of meeting Shanti at the airport, I knew I had nothing to worry about. I loved teaching at the farm, there are children there with so much potential, who we have so much to learn from. Every day I miss Sagun (resident Her Farm genius child) and co. more and more. I cannot wait to go back. It's about more than just volunteering, it's about sharing our cultures, and becoming this strange, bizarre, but very functional family. Life there consists of teaching class to a group of around 25-30 village girls, some of whom, despite horrendous home lives, and unimaginable poverty, are so eager to learn, farming, and helping the sisters do whatever needs to be done. It is very much up to you to take the initiative and use whatever skills you have to in some way aid the development of the farm. I personally discovered that I love teaching.
The earthquake was a tragedy, but never have I met a more resourceful, courageous group than the Nepalese. I know it seems dangerous to go now, and as Scott liked to remind us "Geological time is now;" how right he was. Don't be put off by the earthquake and the aftermath, the shops are open, the buses are running, and there is plenty of food and water. I for one will be back as soon as the bank balance allows. Nepal needs help so badly and this is the best time to go. Even during the earthquake itself we were fantastically looked after, there was always food and water. Nepal is safe, and tourism and volunteering are the best ways to help.
Nepal is not an easy country, its poor in a way few countries are, it has issues so huge it's impossible to know where to start. Follow Stories of Nepal on Facebook for an insight into some of the problems Nepal faces, as well as the strength, resilience and beauty if its people. The Mountain Fund is a fantastic, life-changing, NGO committed to real, sustainable, rural, community development. Life is tough, but the Nepalese are strong.
I'm Shanti, one of the staff at Mountain Fund.
I thoroughly enjoy working with the mountain Fund. Once you are part of it, you are part of the mountain fund Family forever!
I started working with the organisation 8 years ago, as a shy young woman, with little English and unaware of the rest of the world. And now I feel like I found a second home.
Sunita is the matriarch of the Mountain Fund. Her strength, dedication and positive attitude are truly inspiring. She is the teacher, the mother, the mentor. She can be bossy at times but after all she has a good heart, always ready to forgive!
Being part of this amazing team taught so many new things, such as farming, Computer skills, teaching, and of course, English.
But most importantly I learned about life, the responsibilities, the importance of family, happiness, kindness and the joy of helping one another.
So thank you Mountain Fund! You'll be forever in my heart!
Dr. Rene' Hernandez
Saginaw Valley State University
It is indeed my pleasure to write this review of The Mountain Fund and its founder, Scott MacLennan. I was charged with planning a study abroad experience for a group of health professions students in 2014. At that time, I contacted the Mountain Fund for assistance as I had found a small bit of information regarding the organization online. To my pleasant surprise, I was assisted in every way imaginable from transportation to and from the airport to meaningful daily agendas for myself (and, eventually, students). The lodging in Kathmandu and at Her Farm is comfortable and the staff is more than welcoming. I have been involved with many educational and medical trips abroad, but have never had the support of such an organization. It is true that an organization is only as good as its people.....and so, I would say hands-down, The Mountain Fund wins!
I originally visited Nepal in December, 2014 with the sole purpose of arranging for a group of health care professional students to experience a study abroad trip (see above). The second time I visited, the university that I work for (Saginaw Valley State University) sent myself with a small group of health care providers to the region to join the humanitarian relief efforts following the April, 2015 earthquake. While the group I was with did not meet up with Scott and Sunita face-to-face due to the aftermath chaos, we stayed in Kathmandu at the Mountain Fund lodging and were delighted with our accommodations and the staff. No one could predict how difficult it would be navigating the town and securing all of the daily living needs a group of Americans might need during their stay, but Shanti and Asta were consistently there to anticipate our every need. We could not have asked for more. In addition, because of the close contact that Scott has with the Nepali system, he was instrumental in securing health benefits to a young woman living in a tent in Bhaktapur even while he was working at Her Farm to make sure that the village and his family were taken care of. Thank God for his ingenuity and technical expertise as I was able to reach him electronically for advise and reassurance. I cannot imagine going to Nepal for any reason without securing the Mountain Fund and its staff (along with Scott and Sunita) as my in-country coordinators and family. Thanks for all you do!
Volunteering at The Mountain Fund, I’ve got a lot more confidence. Working there has changed my way of doing things and helping people. I admire the work Scott and Sunita are doing there. All the sisters who work there are very cooperative and caring. They not only gave me a way to improve myself, but also gave me chance to learn different perspective of life. Working as a volunteer at Her Farm, completely changed my outlook on life and what I wanted to do as a career. I realised that I wanted to do a job that helps people. I am now more responsible than before, I am more aware that we make a better life by what we give.
As amazing the work they do is, the people behind it are the real heroes. I came to know GMF via a relative who was very heavily involved - and her drive and passion for the work, the almost superhuman zeal to help others and bring forth the wellness and happiness in people via work reflects the core of what it does. GMF is run by some of the most caring and well meaning people that I know. It is hands down the best non profit currently operating in Nepal.
I had been following Her Farm with great interest for almost a year. When the April 25th quake ended my climbing expedition in the Khumbu area, I contacted Sunita and Scott to see if I could be of some help. What I experienced was nothing less than amazing!
The women who manage the farm, the volunteers, and all the children are remarkable. Beyond this, I saw firsthand how they added a community outreach endeavor, providing earthquake relief to the 85% destroyed village.
Although I returned home after two weeks, a part of my heart will always be in Mankhu and I will continue to support and promote Her Farm and Mountain Fund Volunteers.
I highly recommend anyone of any age to support Sunita and Scott in the development of Her Farm, whether as a volunteer, a donor, or simply a few words of praise and thanks for their heart-warming compassion.
I posted this same review on another site. I rate the experience hear as below expectations not because the experience was bad, but because the expectations for the programs gained from the descriptions on the Mountain Volunteer website set the bar far above what the administration, staff, and program seemed capable of actually providing. For instance, (1) despite what the staff tells you, the Kathmandu house is not in a nice part of town, it is in a safe but loud part of town. The ring road is nearby and the supermarket is just beyond the back fence. The house across the street has a dog that barks the whole day long. Needless to say, the time spent at the house is mostly without peace. What appeared to me and my fellow travelers to be the nice parts of town were seen from the cab when going near the zoo, and from the airplane window on departure over the southwest part of the city. (2) The Mountain Volunteer website description for the premed program at Helping Hands Hospital did not accurately portray my experience or observations. Doctors there work mostly from their OPD offices, and only one I shadowed did rounds on wards. A lot of a premed student's time is spent finding what doctors are in that day, and then hoping that the doctor will let him or her sit in, then hoping that the doctor will take the time to explain what is going on, and then deciding what to do when the doctor gets up and leaves unannounced and without instruction. It is a lesson unto itself, and I enjoyed it. However, it is not the delight that is described in the website description, and a timid or unexperienced student would not enjoy it much at all I suspect.
About my time and mission in Nepal: I was an undergraduate who went to Nepal to complete a global health ethics directed study. I signed up through Mountain Volunteer for two weeks of the Premed Experience, and an undetermined amount of time of the Global Health Internship. My total time in Nepal was 43 days; December 13, 2014 - January 25, 2015. I spent 10 days going to Helping Hands Hospital, and just 2 days at Her Farm. The rest of my time was spent either in Kathmandu at the house or around the city, in Chitwan, or in Pokhara.
The reason for the short stay at Her Farm is that I went the day before Christmas. The Global Health Internship "rural clinic" nearby was closed on the holiday, and closed the day after. Even had it been open, it was reported by other "volunteers" to be staffed only by CNA level workers, and saw just 4 patients/day. Instead of waiting for the clinic to open to see 4 patients/day with a CNA, or tolerating other "volunteers" and Her Farm staff staying up late drinking and having a dance party, the dogs barking all night, and a group of "volunteers" smoking marijuana many times per day, I returned to Kathmandu.
I put "volunteer" in parenthesis because I did not witness any "volunteering" in my six weeks. Mountain Volunteer "volunteers" ought to have been called donating be-ers. The Mountain Volunteer administrator talks about "being" in Nepal, and I agree that "being" is important. However, I can "be" in Nepal without Mountain Volunteer in the middle.
In fact, the best and most memorable activities of my six weeks in Nepal were all arranged without help from the Mountain Volunteer staff. The memorable activities were: USAID briefing at the US Embassy arranged by me; visit to the Nepal Leprosy Mission arranged by other students through Helping Hands Hospital administrator; visit to a government primary health clinic in Kathmandu arranged by other students through Helping Hands Hospital administrator; hiking in Shivapuri National Park; and many wonderful meals in Thamel despite the awful portrayal of Thamel given to me by the Mountain Volunteer administrator, and to other "volunteers" in the first-day orientation briefing (you will see what I mean if buy a Mountain Volunteer program and the orientation stays the same).
The Kathmandu house staff is fun, and friendly. I miss them, and if you go and spend much time around them with a respect for them as your equal, you will likely miss them when you leave too.
My recommendation: if you go to Nepal, "be" there, and stay with Mountain Volunteer for one or two weeks to get settled, and to know your way around. Then get a 1000NPR (10USD)/night hotel that offers a hot shower and travel services (many do). Arrange memorable activities yourself, or through your hotel. Remain flexible, and DO NOT think that things will go according to planned, or according to a schedule, or according to what you think SHOULD to be the case.
First and foremost, I would like to thank Sunita didi and Scott for giving me an opportunity to explore her beautiful village and making me realize what I can really do for my country. Being a Chiropractic student in US, I always wanted to help Nepalese in need but I didn't know how to start. After talking to Sunita didi, I felt like "YES!!! this is what I wanted to do." I must say Sunita didi is great. I was amazed with all the wonderful work she's done for the village. Sunita didi and Scott are sincerely devoted to their work. The staff members are awesome, they are very friendly and helpful. I can't wait for a Summer break. I am definitely going back to the Global Mountain Fund and start public awareness campaigns for Nutrition, ways of preventing Back Pain and Ergonomics. If anyone's interested to help us, please email Scott. If you have a sense of adventure, a passion for working with Nepalese, and the desire to have a real impact on their lives, then volunteering in the Global Mountain Fund might be ideal for you.
Chiropractic Intern at the University of Bridgeport College of Chiropractic, CT, USA
I took a semester off before starting college. I have a deep passion for South Asia, and had spent a bit of time in India but had never been to Nepal before. I heard about The Mountain Fund from a friend who spent part of his gap year at Her Farm, and gave it glowing reviews. I decided that it sounded like a very solid organization, and Nepal sounded cool, so I went ahead and signed up for two months.
I had no idea what an incredible experience I was in for! I was so impressed by the staff (or, as they prefer to be called, "the sisters,") at Her Farm. They are all absolutely wonderful, and really go above and beyond to meet the needs of both volunteers and members of the local community. They were all exceedingly lovely, warm and welcoming right from the start.
I stayed at the Mountain Fund guesthouse in Kathmandu for my first couple of nights. Having a "home base" in the city was very convenient. It's like a little oasis in the midst of the chaos, and it's very easy to hop into a taxi or bus and go anywhere you want. Volunteers are free to come and go as they please, and the sisters provide a delicious breakfast and dinner each day.
On my third day in Nepal I left for the farm. As anyone who has been lucky enough to spend time there will tell you, the farm is an amazing place. It's only about an hour from Kathmandu, but it feels like a different world. The village is definitely an authentic representation of what most of rural Nepal is like, although the farm itself is equipped to support volunteers (there is wifi most of the time, and a couple of western toilets). Volunteers typically share simple but very clean and comfortable rooms. The sisters cook every meal, and the food is absolutely delicious. Most of it is locally produced and organic, and a lot of it comes from our own farm! They take extra care to wash and cook things properly, and I never had any stomach problems in the entire two months that I was in Nepal. Basically, while the farm is definitely not a fancy place, you well be exceptionally well taken care of.
The farm actually serves a number of functions. It is an organic farm, a women's shelter (only two women are using it as a shelter at the moment, but I believe that they are looking to expand their outreach), a school, an area for villagers to just come hang out, and (most recently) a clinic, with an emphasis on women's health. I worked as a teacher at the school on the farm, which is really more like a tutoring center. Most of the students do attend the local village school to fulfill their official education requirements, but they come to the farm for a few hours each day. I feel that the farm definitely plays a crucial role in their education, however, as it is their only chance to learn English and critical thinking skills, amongst other things. It’s also a great opportunity for them to have access to computers. During my time there, we had about 40-45 students showing up each day, ranging in age from two to thirteen or so. It was definitely overwhelming at first, but there are lots of resources in the classroom for both students and teachers. Previous teachers (myself included) have left behind some notes to help future teachers. I'm also more than willing to answer questions and give advice to anyone who is considering teaching at Her Farm. Just ask Mountain Fund to put you in touch with me. I didn't really have much teaching experience before I got there, and it was certainly a challenge at times, but it ended up being immensely fun and rewarding! The students are adorable. They are so earnest and eager to learn, and they pick things up quickly.
Nepal itself is an incredible country. One of the things I love about The Mountain Fund is how flexible they are in allowing volunteers to take time off to explore. They are very helpful if you should decide to take a few days off. They will even set up hotels, tours, or treks for you if you want! I highly recommend taking advantage of this opportunity to explore a fascinating part of the world. There are definitely certain areas that are pretty full of tourists (the trekking industry and tourism in general has taken its toll on parts of Nepal, ever since it opened its borders in 1951). However, it’s not hard to get off the beaten path if you want to, and the sisters can definitely help you do that. I’m eighteen years old and this was my first time traveling on my own, so I was a little bit nervous at first, but I found that it’s very easy to get around in Nepal with minimal hassle. Although I obviously had to use common sense when travelling on my own, I never felt unsafe. I also got to travel with other volunteers on a couple of occasions, which was very fun! The Mountain Fund tends to attract really interesting, kind, and adventurous individuals. I met some wonderful people.
In short, Her Farm is an incredible project, in a wonderful and very close-knit community. The Her Farm family could not be more welcoming. Mountain Fund is a great organization overall, especially if you’re young and travelling by yourself. They are very flexible, and give volunteers as much or as little independence as you want/need.
So go spend some time at Her Farm. It will change your life!
Arriving in Nepal from New Zealand at the end of November 2014 for 6 weeks I didn't really know what was in store. Having read reviews on Mountain Fund, and emailing Scott a fair bit I came up with a rough trip outline and set off. Now nearing the end of my trip I can honestly say my experience with Mountain Fund and Nepal has exceeded my expectations. I was met at the airport by the lovely Sante, arriving at the Kathmandu house where I meet Scott and Sunita along with a few of the Nepali sisters at Mountain Fund. From the first introductions the passion of everyone involved with the organisation was evident, expressing their passion and commitment to the visions of the fund in their own way. Some like Sunita gets stuck into daily happenings with energy and charisma, while others go quietly about their day engaging volunteers in running the farm, teaching at the school or showing volunteers the ins and outs of the local health clinic. I liked the variety of approaches and personalities amongst those running the fund as I meant the volunteers who stay at both the HerFarm and Kathmandu house also have a variety of personalities and experiences so there is something for everyone. The day to day experiences of Nepali life which the fund offers are varied from communicating with Nepali sisters learning about the culture along with the challenges women and children face, helping at the health clinic or getting stuck in to farm life carrying rice, gardening and cooking. What I also loved about the farm was the love and kindness which extends from the Nepali sisters to the volunteers. Not once did I feel alone or uncared for in a country so different from my own, with a common theme emerging from the farm of connectedness with one another which has made for an incredible experience. A wee bit of advice to future volunteers going to the HerFarm is take a pair of flip flops these come in handy, old clothes to work in for farm or maintanence work (painting, building ect) and a head torch for when the power goes out which it does often with the government load shedding. Also be prepared for a bit of culture shock, things at first can be overwhelming but everyone makes you feel as welcome as possible. Don't be shy to communicate with Scott, Sunita or the Nepali sisters at the Kathmandu house or HerFarm they incredibly hospitable and want you to enjoy Nepal as much as possible so ask questions, and get involved. It's totally worth it.
This is a wonderful group of people who are truly passionate about the work they do. In the summer of 2011 I volunteered in Nepal with The Mountain Fund at a school for street and slum kids. It was an eye-opening experience because The Mountain Fund family shared the truths about Nepal that most tourists fail to see. And tried explain us, the volunteers, what the real problems familys there face everyday and how The Mountain Fund is trying to conquer those battles. They are the strength for those family's that are too afraid to fight. They give a voice to the children that can't speak out.
The Mountain Fund family welcomed me and many volunteers into their home and showed us Nepalise culture and shared with us their values of love and family. They're beautiful people with a fantastic message and I and so greatful to have met them.
In November i made my first overseas trip to Nepal where myself and other students from Deakin University Australia volunteered at Her Farm for 3 weeks. By the end it felt as if we had gained a second family. I will not soon forget the great friends i made as we spent time on the farm building a cow shed, harvesting rice etc. An amazing experience that has changed my life, ideas and outlook for the furture.
My oldest son went to Nepal with the Mountain Fund in 2011 to serve as a medical trekker and to help with Her Farm. I can not say enough great things about this organization! - From the incredible, legitimate work they do to the way my son was well taken care of. At first I was worried, as all mothers would be, for one of their children to take such a far journey away from home. I soon realized that he was in safe hands. The experiences had and the memories he made during his 5 month stay has changed him for the better in unimaginable ways. My son left a boy, but came home a respectable and appreciative man. Thank you, Scott MacLennan!
I volunteered with the Mountain Fund as a premedical volunteer for about 2 months. It was a great time, I learned lots about medicine, and I was quite satisfied with my experience. Working in the hospital as a premed, you probably won't get much practical experience (besides occasionally taking someone's blood pressure), but you can learn a lot from the doctors there if you're enthusiastic and ask questions. Being able to scrub in for surgeries was a huge bonus. As far as actually doing things that are helpful for the community, going up to the farm and teaching local kids english and working on projects up there was really satisfying and a great option to enjoy an authentic, beautiful rural Nepal setting. The Mountain Fund staff (the sisters) were really friendly, the food was delicious, and the accommodations were clean. If you're alright with the occasional cold shower and you're looking for a volunteer program abroad I definitely recommend this one!
I am a 20 year old trainee teacher from worcester and I went for a month to teach. It was one of the most amazing experiences I can ever encounter. Words and pictures cannot describe how amazing it was. The family and mountain fund are extremely helpful and very caring. You become part of the family and felt safe and happy throughout my time there.
Personally, my favourite experience was 'Her Farm'. It was such so inspiring to work with the sisters there, preparing meals, farming and teaching. The children are brilliant. They are so willing to work and learn. The language barrier is hard but patience and persistence from both you and the children thrive with success.
Going there was very scary. I was very cautious and nervous as well as excited, but you get lots of reassurance and guidance.
I would highly recommend using the Mountain Fund, it's an experience I will always cherish. When people ask me how it was the only words I use is amazing. I miss the people I have met and the places I have visited. I will be returning to them in future years because a part of my heart now belongs there :) a must do experience!
I have just returned from the experience of my life. I haven't travelled a lot and as a 52 yr old (just single) woman thought it was all too late - but 'Mountain Fund' proved me very wrong indeed. I thought they'd laugh at me but I was welcomed and befriended like any other. I feel privileged and honoured to have been a part of the Farm family for two weeks. I cut and carried grass; I ploughed and prepared fields; I planted rice; I helped to graze the oxen; I sang Nepali songs and danced; I picked corn; I ate jack fruit, pears and mangoes straight from the trees; I ate freshly harvested and cooked food (of which the rice pudding deserves special mention) but most of all I met fantastic people up on the farm. I was truly inspired and motivated by all of you and your happy; hard working; never complaining; attitude to life. I will never forget you and will always have very special memories of my time on your farm. Thank you for making it special for me.