Udaya, thank you for showing me around your wonderful Organic Farm and teaching me about all of your plants. It has been wonderful staying here, and learning about life on the farm. I am only sorry that my Nepali is not very good, but thank you for the effort in trying to teach me as much as possible.
Sadhana and Sebika, thank you both so much for the wonderful food. I feel as though I have eaten like a Queen with all of this delicious organic food. You both have such beautiful smiles and are such a joy to be around. And, thank you Hajuraama for feeding me all of the tasty lychees and for always looking after me. And, Subash thank you for showing me around town, and take care of your arm!
Thank you all for everything and for opening up your home to me. Keep in touch.
P.O. Box – 62
Whitefish, MT 59937
What a peaceful retreat in the middle of a long trip!! I stayed at organic farm called “Eternal Farming” in Chitwan. I am enormously grateful to Volunteer and Learn Nepal for providing me this amazing opportunity.
I learnt in this wonderful organic farm so many new things: how to milk a buffalo, how to make ghee, how to make gas from buffalo’s poo, how to cook some simple and delicious Nepali meals, how to make plates with leaves… and, most important, I had a real occasion to be in touch with Nepali life and culture. I admire the harmony and the beauty of this nice family. Everyone has been so kind and smily. Special thanks to Sadhana for the delicious food she cooks!! And thanks to Udaya for all the time he spent talking with me about the differences between Nepal and France. And, thanks to Sebika for her active presence when all the kids of the village came together to learn English and to play. And, thanks to Subash for his incredible smile. And, last but not least, big big thanks to Parbati for being what she is: a wonderful old woman, full of ideas and kindness. I hope that she will achieve her project of building a library and a first-aid center in the village.
Good luck to all of you!!
Where to start? It has been such memorable, fun, happy and enjoyable experience. The family were so kind and generous. I felt right at home straight away, and now I have a Nepali family. The farm is amazing, so many lychees! I have learnt so much, and had such a fun time doing it.
Sadhana – Thank for all the cooking, it really is amazing. You should open up an organic restaurant in Kathmandu! You have been like a mum to me, something I have missed a lot! You are so kind and helpful, and you have an amazing family, and two great kids.
Parbati – Such a wise, open, honest woman. An inspiration, still such vital member of the community at the grand all age of 84.
Subash – A future Nepali caram-board champion. Always happy, smiling, like a kid brother should be.
Sebika – Happy, beautiful with an infectious smile and laugh. Thank for all the laundry, washing, and for assisting on doing the washing up. You are so bright, you will go far in whatever you do.
And finally Udaya – you are so kind, enthusiastic, generous, interesting and a real character. Thank you for showing your wonderful family with me, for asking so many questions, and teaching me so much. You opened your family to me and I really do feel I belong. Just wish I could stay a little longer.
Thank you to everyone, you all have made my time in Nepal so unique and I have many happy memories that I will remember for a very long time.
Good luck with all your many projects.
Chris Miller (Nepali Name: Pritam Babu)
Now, I don’t believe i’ve been in Nepal for 3 months. How time goes so rapidely that I don’t feel ready to leave now since I’ve adjusted to the lifestyle and environment around me. I would just like say a huge thanks to Durga, Bishnu and Pramila for accepting me as a volunteer to their organization. It’s a shame I didn’t know about your organization earlier, otherwise I would have liked to participate in many more projects you have an offer for good cause. I have enjoyed participating Sankhu Palibari farm and painting at ‘Nil Ganga’ School.
Many thanks, All my love, Ann
In the spring of 2010, I volunteered with the program Volunteering to Learn, based out of Kathmandu, in Nepal. For several weeks, I traveled, lived, and worked closely with Sujan Parajuli, a coordinator of the program. For the duration of our time together visiting a wide variety of farms in Nepal, he served as guide, translator, teacher, mentor, and friend. The time we worked and traveled together was invaluable – words are inadequate for thanking him sufficiently for all he did to make my time in Nepal, and with Volunteering to Learn, everything that it was.
I arrived in Nepal with the plan to learn as much as I could about an agricultural tradition that is older and in some ways fundamentally different from that conventional one with which I am most familiar in the Western world. A potential grad school advisor in Arizona recommended that I meet his family, particularly Sujan Parajuli, in Kathmandu, and that I look into the program Volunteering to Learn. At our first meeting over tea and momos, Sujan and I exchanged ideas about farming and farm research with rapidly growing excitement. By the end of just that first encounter, we had decided to travel together to farms in each of the widely diverse regions of Nepal and collect information on traditional agricultural practices, many of which (according to Sujan and accurately demonstrated later on) appeared to be threatened by increasing development and mounting pressure on smaller farms to move to a more industrial, ‘modernized’ (i.e. fertilizer-, pesticide-, and herbicide-based) farming style.
Within several days of that first encounter, I had signed up with the program Sujan helped run, Volunteering to Learn, and was beginning my language training (with Sujan as teacher). The one-on-one nature of this training and Sujan’s firm grasp of English and Nepali (written and spoken) provided a strong foundation in just a few days for the arguably challenging process of learning the Nepali language. The sightseeing that Sujan and I undertook as part of the orientation was also engaging and informative (as Sujan was able to serve as a highly capable guide familiar with the history and cultural significance of the visited sights).
Following the Volunteering to Learn orientation in Kathmandu, Sujan and I spent several weeks substantially working on and investigating the practices of 5 farms: Hasera Farm (with Govinda Sharma), in Patlekhet; Surya Farm (with Surya Adhikari), in Begnas Tal; K.B. Gurung’s herbal medicine farm, in Demauli; Ajamvari Farm in Chitwan; and Chandra Adhikari’s farm, also in the Chitwan area. My experiences at these farms were deeply valuable on all levels. Living with the families of these farms taught me about Nepali language, culture, customs, food; and it taught me humility, compassion, patience, and simplicity. Working on the farms was as educational as the family immersion, but in a different way. I learned a tremendous amount about agricultural practices – terracing, composting, seeding, practicing permaculture, establishing cooperatives, ingenuity, harvesting and processing crops, managing rainfall and water run-off/collection, just to name a few. Yet another glimpse into the way of life in Nepal, and into myself as a visitor to that rich and beautiful country, was gained in the classroom, where a volunteer teaching session allowed me to engage, albeit briefly, with the children in a school in Chitwan.
Volunteering to Learn seeks to offer to travelers that which can be most valuable: total immersion in the country and culture of Nepal. While immersion can be daunting in the way that it often removes participants from their comfort zone, it is also the most effective method for a traveler to truly discover a deep, powerful, lasting connection with the people and culture of a different and sometimes very foreign place. I was extremely fortunate to travel with Sujan Parajuli, who in countless cases helped mitigate the challenges of total immersion by assisting with translation and guidance in regards to traditional practices and customs. When I recommended Volunteering to Learn to other travelers interested in immersing themselves in Nepali culture and learning about farming in Nepal, some claimed it was too costly a program for the relatively tight budget of many visitors, especially those that would be interested in working on farms (potentially with the WWOOF program in mind). I can speak to this claim only by saying that for me, the monetary costs were far outweighed by everything I learned and gained from the experience, from traveling in Nepal in a way that took away the feeling of being an outsider, and left me with profound insight into and love for the Nepali country and the way of life of its peoples.
Andrew Stowe, Spring 2010
If you’ve been a volunteer through Volunteering to Learn, and would like to share some memories, please leave a comment below.