CHILDREN SUMMER CAMP IN OKHALDHUNGA
At the first day camp started at 11 am. International volunteers arrived at Shree Himalaya Secondary School just before the children. Everyone gathered into one of the class rooms and at first VIN staff member and camp leader Ramesh told children about the camp schedule. VIN staff members Uttar and Remuka were helping Ramesh and the volunteers. Then all went out for morning exercise and singing of the Nepal national anthem. Making name cards and introduction was also included in the first morning´s program. All the international volunteers introduced themselves in Nepali and all the children introduced themselves in English. After these starting activities children were divided into two groups and they learned basic English and played different games with the international volunteers. The children knew all the numbers so well in English that volunteers decided it is not necessary to study them anymore.
The camp lasted 8 days. Day always started at 11 o´clock with exercise and singing of the national anthem. Camp activities included games, learning English, sports, a lot of dancing, making origamis and drawing and painting. One day volunteers took children hiking to the hills and beautiful scenery and nature offered a good place for dancing and games. Even the smallest children were up to few hours hiking and playing.
Even if there were a lot of free time in the evenings, nobody ever complained it was boring. Time flew when volunteers played with children, explored the village and its surroundings, went to take a bath and wash clothes in common water taps or just sit outside chatting with each other or with the locals.
In the morning of the last day some of the children gathered at VIN´s office to make flower necklaces. Working together a lot of necklaces were made in a short time. Children and volunteers cleaned the classrooms and school yard. Drawings and origamis were given to children and it took a long time because children had been very hard working and there were a lot of art works to share. Some of them did not have names written in them and it was challenging to find out who had made them. Eventually all art work found their rightful owners. Before lunch children practiced introducing themselves in English for the last time. In the afternoon girls presented some beautiful Nepali dances they had practiced. Then it was time to take group photos and give flower necklaces and all-over-face -tikas to international volunteers.
Camp has been organized once a year every summer. VIN is now planning also to organize a winter camp for children. Camp is meant for children aged 7 to 12 but sometimes younger or older children like aged 6 or 14 can participate. Camp activities take 3 to 5 hours a day and 7 days a week. There are 21 schools in the area and VIN is trying to choose a new school for which the camp is introduced to.
Children have time in the summer and they can use it for learning and developing themselves. International volunteers teach new things and English which is important for children.
Only thing to do is to convince the parents about importance of these camps. Sometimes less children arrive at camp than was expected. Parents tend to think that it is more useful that farm work and home chores are done and that learning a few new thing is not that important. Camps could be developed by finding new topics to teach and new games to play. Also, children´s capacity should be taken into consideration and teach them according to their level and skills.
Jenisa, 10 years old, grade 5
I wanted to join this camp because here we can play games together and learn English. It was fun, and I have learned drawing and painting, making origamis, dancing and playing games and sports. Best thing in this camp was drawing and painting.
Subash, 12 years old, grade 5
I wanted to come to this camp because I wanted to learn new things, read and play games. It was fun because we played many different games, read English and did drawing and painting. I learned drawing and painting, games and how to make origamis. Playing sports was the best thing in this camp.
Natalia, 26 years old, Barcelona, Spain
I wanted to volunteer in Nepal because I heard it is one of the best places to travel and it is safe country to travel alone. I wanted to see what it is like in here and have an experience of this country. I wanted to work with children because I love them, and I love to play with them. I started teaching children when I was sixteen years old. Now I don´t work with them but I want to keep contact with them and volunteering gives me a good chance to do that.
It is difficult to say one thing that was best in this camp. Hiking in the hills with children and dancing and playing there was really fun. I love dancing. I started when I was a child and it is my hobby. I dance when I have free time in my home country.
This is my first time in Nepal and I think it is amazing. People are always so friendly, and I feel safe in here. The scenery and mountains are spectacular. Food is too hot for me because I don´t like spicy food but the place is just wonderful.
It was a long way from Kathmandu to Okhaldhunga and the road was hard. But when we arrived here I felt at home. It is a different place if I compare it to my home country. For example, availability of water is not so simple when we have to walk to a common water tap to wash ourselves and our clothes and when we have to carry home the water we need for cooking or drinking. But it is okay to wash yourself outside and watch the views at the same time. It has been quite easy to adapt.
The most difficult thing for me in Nepal has maybe been the weather. Days can be very hot in here and it is not appropriate to wear short tops or trousers. It is culture in here and it doesn´t bother me in that sense. I have learned that I can be little dirty, and it is okay. Also, a toilet has been a learning experience being just a hole in the ground. Living here is a new experience and I know now I survive here.
The biggest surprise for me was seeing how recycling does not work in here. When I walk around and see all the plastic bottles and plastic bags lying in the ground. I also saw some children eating sweets and just throwing the wrapping papers to the ground. If I now look around I can see the trash. People don´t take care of the nature. This is something people need to change because they live in a such beautiful country. They also need to teach the children. If a parent throws his trash to the ground a child will do the same. I feel bad because my family has always recycled. I am worried about the nature and the climate change.
I spent my free time walking in the village and exploring new paths, bathing, playing volleyball with local young men, dancing with neighbors and with other volunteers. If I feel I am having a boring moment I use it to write down my experiences to my journal. Many times, we don´t have the internet and for me it is a good thing because it allows me to disconnect from the world. One week without the internet can feel a long time though. I feel good if I am able to contact my family and friends and let them know I am okay. That is the only thing I miss internet for.
I did not bring any material with me because I don´t consider myself as a materialistic person. I just wanted to enjoy my time here with children, teach them what I know, play new games and dance with them. They live in a closed village and I want them to see there are different people and different things in the world. It must not always be easy to keep contact with the outside world from here. When I talk with young teenagers here, they don´t believe that they can see the world outside this village.
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