My time at Her Farm, operated by the Global Mountain Fund, was pivotal to not only my professional field but also personal passions as well. I spent around 4 weeks at Her Farm in August 2018 under a program spearheaded by my university with around 10 other students. Her Farm was receptive, responsive and efficient in ensuring that our adjustment from the United States to Nepal was extremely smooth; so much in that they ensured that our large bags would be transported to the site on the foothills of the Himalayas and briefed us on what to expect in terms of physical exertion. I immediately adapted to my surroundings relatively quick due to the beautiful scenery, Western-style accommodations and incredible meals. I felt welcomed, secured and prioritized. As this was many of our first times traveling abroad for a long time period, it was the powerful sense of community that comforted us through homesickness. My time volunteering at Her Farm was enlightening. We were fully immersed in a community that prioritized common humanity without hierarchy. I appreciated the fact that we worked alongside the women and their daily tasks, rather than helped as an outsider which eased my concerns of volunteering with a "savior complex". The tasks ranged from cooking, farming, and community development projects--but most importantly, we were always learning. Learning different and innovative ways of living that was environmentally sustainable and less materialistic. Everyday, time was set aside so that we could learn about Nepalese culture whether that was language, holistic medicine or common past times. I was exposed to herbal medicine and acupuncture which supplemented my passions for sustainable medicine. I learned to be a stronger and more self-sufficient individual by being surrounded by inspiring and independent women every day. As Sunita, our mother away from home, commonly put "Woman power, 24 hour!" I felt empowered everyday at Her Farm and felt apart of something larger than myself. The work at Her Farm is integral to tackling the patriarchy and I am privileged to have witnessed this grassroots organization flourish first-hand. My biggest takeaway from this unforgettable journey was to expect nothing, but receive an abundance. I had no idea what to expect, and ultimately I left with lifelong friends, a new perspective on life and a home in Nepal I will continually return to. Everyday we were showered with wisdom, stories and evening circle talks with tea; there is not a day that goes by in which I am not guided by some of the lessons I took away from Her Farm. Every night, there were dance parties to Nepali music and talent shows featuring the most skilled dancing techniques around. I highly recommend Her Farm to anyone willing to fully immerse in a unique, beautiful and rich culture! Plus the view is pretty unbeatable.
From the moment I got off the plane, the Nepali people made me feel as comfortable as possible. The sisters are very hospitable and make sure you always have enough to eat. They always try to plan a tour around their wonderful city and make sure you leave satisfied. Overall, my experience to Kathmandu through the Mountain Fund could not have been anymore thrilling.
It is because of the impeccable people working with The Global Mountain Fund that I had a remarkable experience in Nepal. Clearly an sane human being would be nervous packing their bag and heading halfway around the world to immerse themselves in an unknown culture, surrounding themselves with strangers, but once I got to nepal, these women made me feel like I had known them my whole lives. Each and every person at her farm and helping hands community hospital made me feel right at home, which made the experience that much more enjoyable. The program definitely returns as much as you give, meaning, the more you give, the more you get. It may not be returned in extravagant experiences, but you can learn more from these incredible women in one day than you can imagine. This experience has proven invaluable to me, not only for the impeccable medical experiences I gained, but for the memories I made with fabulous people from around the world and the knowledge I gained from the souls of truly wonderful people. Also exploring in Nepal wasn't half bad. Trekking was spectacular -- I went to EBC, but the annapurna circuit was wild apparently. Pokhara was beautiful and I did a 12 day meditation retreat that changed my life in more ways than I can explain.
Her Farm and the women that run it, truly have taught me more than I could learn in any classroom. Not only about myself but about the ebb and flow of life, and for that I am eternally grateful.
It was a real delight to get to know you and host you in Nepal. Hope to see you back again some day.
I honestly can't say enough good things about my experience with Her Farm. Going halfway around the world to stay with people who were basically strangers was nerve-wracking to say the least, but from the second I stepped foot on the grounds I felt like I was at home. The staff here are truly TRULY amazing, hardworking, and selfless people doing absolutely fantastic work for their community. The children and adults who live here are incredibly kind and accepting, and even on the days where I worked the hardest at the Farm I was so elated to be there with such caring people who could make even the most mundane task fun. Being here was a truly eye-opening and wonderful experience.
Being at the farm was a very unique experience. The people were very welcoming and hospitable at all times. It was a great place to stay and volunteer at.
It was my great opportunity to achieve best experiences and skills during my working period in The mountain fund as a staff.
Well I feel proud to be little part of the mountain fund because the mountain fund has been really big helping hand for all difficult lives in mountain.
I came to know Her Farm and The Mountain Fund during difficult times of restoring Nepal after the earthquake. Sunita and Scott were organizing an earthbag building workshop for volunteers willing to rebuild villages using natural earth-conscious and earthquake-resistant technologies. Workshop that I participated in took place at their farm in Dhading, and I got to know these wonderful people at that time and kept in touch with them ever since. Sunita, who overcame her own humble conditions and became an advocate for women liberation, education and happiness in overly traditional, rigid areas of Nepal where tradition is still more important than human happiness, is helping poor women to become independent and raise their children in the environment of equal opportunities. Scott, who has been helping villagers and mountain communities for years, has been introducing advanced agricultural and building technologies into the underdeveloped and poor communities, as well as teaching local kids English, computer skills and cinematography.
The farm is vibrant, functional, self-sufficient, and full of joy and laughter. They are also doing a rare job of successful rehabilitation of mentally ill women who had no other place to go - a task that nobody else in Nepal is ready to undertake. As a project manager and a non-profit worker with experience in different non-profit fields, I know how difficult it is to have a successful project of this scale in a country like Nepal - to tell you the truth, it is close to impossible! That is why I salute my friends and wish them all the best in all of their endeavors. They are doing something truly amazing.
I had an amazing time with everyone at the farm. We came as a big group and they were more than ready to deal with us. They had the projects ready and participated alongside us during every endeavor. You wont find another real life experience like this. They fed us well, took care of our stomachs and made sure we were fully rested throughout our time there. Would definitely recommend going to the farm for anyone who wants to get a better insight on the world!
Thank you Jessica and the Aggie Mountain Volunteer group from Texas A&M. Come back soon
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!