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Kristina Roche

Volunteer in an Orphanage in Nepal

(Himalayan Children’s Care Home (HCCH) - Pokhara, Nepal)

Last year, I travelled with two other students to Nepal, located in Southern Asia, for a month and a half where I lived in an orphanage and was responsible for teaching English and math to children aged five through nine.

The place was beautiful, and I could see the Himalayas from my room at the orphanage. I was also the “Yellow House Volunteer” which meant I was responsible for helping the six girls who lived in the yellow room with daily activities, like cleaning, homework, personal care, and English communication. I acted as an older sibling to the children, and they welcomed me into the family. I miss my new family every day and the experience definitely changed my life!

The experience made me much more appreciative of everything I have. Some of the children slept three people to a double bed, others slept two people to a single bed. In one of the girls’ rooms, 14 children shared four sets of bunk beds. The oldest children were sponsored by a kind man in England and were able to attend a private school. The rest of the children stayed at the house to attend classes with the volunteers.

The children who went to school wore uniforms which were washed once a week, on their only day off, Saturday. The rest of the children changed their clothes on Wednesday and Saturday. The water was limited in the orphanage and in most homes and businesses, so the children walked 30 minutes each way to the public shower, once a week. There was also a power shortage throughout the country, and we usually only had eight hours of power per day.

While I was there, I brought the seven oldest girls on a fieldtrip and we walked to the market and I bought each of them an outfit. I asked that they hand down an old outfit each to one of the younger kids. One of my most eye-opening moments occurred on this excursion when I offered to purchase an outfit for the oldest girl, Choeden. The shop we visited had more juvenile clothes, and being 13, she felt they were not something she would be able to wear, she kindly said, “Thank you miss. I appreciate the opportunity for new clothes but I think you should buy some for little kids, I have three shirts at home, and that is more than enough.”

I feel as though this situation would not have played out like this here in Canada where we are more fortunate and have so much more. In the end, I bought Choeden a pair of pants, and she asked that I spend my extra money on “underwears” for the little kids, some of them had none. In total, for six full outfits, the pants for Choeden, the “underwears” for the younger kids, a taxi ride to a restaurant, and three large pizzas for the girls to share, I spent approximately $40 Canadian, which was mind-blowing to me. I realized that this was less than what I would pay for a single pair of jeans here!

The children were so appreciative of everything they were given and they shared everything they received. One girl even let her best friend wear her new outfit on the second day she had it. These children were definitely an inspiration, and a reminder for me to be appreciative and grateful of everything I have!