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Maartje Wessels

Maartje Wessels

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Volunteering with VIN gave me the opportunity to learn about a different culture in a way you cannot when you go backpacking through a country. Because you are in such close contact with the people in the community, or in my case, the monastery, you learn about the cultural differences in a whole other way. It’s amazing. I was placed in a monastery and I learned a lot about Buddhism and about myself!

Other than that I have done some fundraising back home and the money is used to furnish 5 Early Childhood Development centres, to build 16 toilets in the community and to buy the Jitpur Youth Club some materials. VIN makes sure that the community comes up with their share of the amount needed to buy things. This way, hopefully, the community takes all the initiatives seriously, because they ‘own’ it as well. This way it’s sustainable. I don’t believe in pumping money into a community without the community having to contribute as well.

VIN makes sure the community contributes and sees the value of the help provided. It’s of utmost importance that VIN trains the community volunteers, who in return further train the community. Issues as health and sanitation, education and environment need to be addressed in the community. This should be an ongoing process. With one lecture nothing will change. I hope VIN follows up on their projects. Installing toilets is not enough.

The community needs to learn why to use the toilets, how to use the toilets and needs to actually use the toilets. I am very sorry my time with VIN was so short, because once started I noticed how much work needs to be done. I was only with VIN for 5 weeks, of which most of the time I was on the monastery. I would like to return and volunteer for VIN for a longer period of time. Taking one project (education) and work on that full time. Hopefully I can take some unpaid leave in the future and return to Nepal to ‘finish’ what I started. I am very curious about the ECD’s and how the teachers are using the information they were given in the teacher training.

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