From 01/05/2017 to 28/05/2017
When I began my journey to Nepal, I knew I could expect some differences with the Netherlands. In the preparing meetings we had with IFMSA and VIN, they informed us about a totally different culture and a country damaged by the earthquake of 2015. But no matter how much information you receive to prepare you, you have to see it with your own eyes.
I did the volunteering in May 2017 (1-28). A month seemed long in the beginning, but actually turned out to be a bit too short. Together with 2 other Dutch girls we prepared a campaign about the female reproductive organs. We showed the local women the anatomy, told them about their menstruation and problems you could have with your menstruation and gave them information about pelvic inflammatory disease, uterine prolapse and cervical cancer. After every campaign we measured the blood pressure and answered questions. The lastly mentioned diseases are very common under Nepali women so it was very useful to them to know the symptoms and when they should go to a doctor. For the women, taking the blood pressure was the most exciting part of the presentation. They couldn’t wait for it and all wanted to be the first. We noticed the average blood pressure among Nepali women is a bit low. Jyoti -a local volunteer- translated everything for us and brought us to the locations of the campaign.
On Tuesdays we helped in the health post. It was a small building with only 3 rooms. We helped Dr. Laxmi by taking the blood pressure of the patients and we wrote down their personal data in a big book. When we didn’t do a campaign or assisted at the health post, we stayed in the host family. The family Ram Prasad lived with the parents, 2 daughters (2 were already out of the house), a son and some goats, dogs and a cow in Kavresthali. The best way to learn about cultural habits is to live with a Nepali family and live by their rules. We didn’t wear shoes in the house, ate daal bhat 3 times a day and slept on beds that felt like a stone. In the beginning you really have to get used to it. But in the end it’s all a piece of cake (except for the rice 3 times a day ????). I started to love the family and felt like I was at home.
If you had any questions, it was always possible to email or call VIN. You didn’t have to worry that you were all on your own and in the first days of your volunteering you start with an introduction where you get the basic information about hygiene in Nepal, some cultural habits and a few words Nepalese! This was very useful!
In the weekends you have time to do some sightseeing and learn more about Nepal. A lot of volunteers go back to Kathmandu to eat something different than rice and see beautiful stupas. But when you arrive in Kathmandu you immediately appreciate the quietness in the village of your host family and the fresh air! When you go to Kathmandu you will see it with your own eyes, but I was very shocked in the beginning about all the trash on the streets.
If I have to give one tip to upcoming volunteers: don’t worry about time! In Nepal time is a vague concept. You always have to wait a lot! Busses leave when they are full, women come and go to your campaign when they want, 20 minutes actually means 40 minutes and I can give more examples like this. Just relax, everything will be fine! ????
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