Dear Bicky and associates at VCD.
When I first arrived in Kathmandu, on the car journey from the airport, Bicky told me to have no expectations for my time here and also told me that, compared to home, it is a crazy place here. I thought at the time that it was a little unrealistic to have absolutely no expectations. Before I came here, I anticipated that it would be completely underdeveloped and the culture would be completely alien to me. I think it is better to have low expectations, as then you can only be pleasantly surprised!
From the car window on that trip, I was hit with a sensory overload of people, lights, fires, holy cows and the smell of wood smoke. I thought that whatever my time was like, it would certainly be interesting. After that first evening I have got more and more used to being here and at every stage I have been delighted that my expectations have been surpassed. It is, indeed, a very crazy place but it is also one which you can really enjoy and become comfortable in.
After seeing some of the sites of Kathmandu I went to the orphanage in Chitwan for a little over a week where, together with Mahesh and Sarah, I enjoyed helping out, playing with the children, and relaxing in the tropical heat. The day of the jungle safaris was amazing and I had so many new experiences in Chitwan, seeing a Hindu wedding, in addition to the orphanage and jungle experience.
Next I went to Pokhara for trekking. This was definitely the highlight of my project. The views of the Annapurna range from Poon Hill were awe-inspiring and it was definitely worth the early start. I also went kayaking on the beautiful Set River, or maybe I should say I swam the rapids! I finished off with 2 weeks of teaching in Godawari with the peaceful countryside and long walks with a badly behaved dog.
My time has gone really quickly and 6 weeks seems a very short time, looking back on it. Nepal has given me a great time and I will take away fantastic memories of the country and its people.
My thanks go to Bicky, who like a giant laid-back spider, sits at the centre of the web, pulling strings to influence people and make sure that everything goes smoothly. He is without doubt the best fixer in all of Nepal, if not South East Asia, everybody knows him and like a guiding elder brother he ensures his volunteers make the most of their stay.
Thanks for everything.
Teaching at the school and at the orphanage, February 2012
Dear VCD, Bicky and everyone I volunteered with,
Thank you so much for making my experience of Nepal so unforgettable.
As soon as I arrived in Kathmandu your hospitality made me feel comfortable, safe and welcome, and your readiness to help meant I didn't have to worry about anything. Although I was only in Nepal for a month, you ensured that I make the most of my time here and whenever I needed a bus or anything you sorted it out straight away, and for this I am very grateful. Working as an intern for the newspaper was a great way for me to gain understanding of working as a journalist, and enabled me to identify with the country in a different way. Thank you Bicky and Santosh for everything you taught me, all the opportunities you presented to me, and for making sure that I enjoy this wonderful country of yours !
I am going to miss the many things from the daily life at the lighthouse, such as Santosh's cooking and Bicky's great sense of humour.
I will most certainly come back to Nepal in the future, and when I do I will be in contact, as it would be great to see you all again !
What you do is truly inspiring, and Nepal is much better off with you continuing with all the great things you are doing to help people.
If you are thinking about volunteering in Nepal, I highly recommend you go with VCD no matter what area of volunteer work, as it really is a great organization.
Best of luck for the future.
Journalism/Photo Journalism volunteer, One Month, March 2012
Dear VCD Nepal
I have had a great experience here in Nepal. The ever changing landscapes and the friendliness of the people are simply amazing. Thank you Bikram for your flexibility around.
To other volunteers, if you are here in January, you should go to the bullfights. It is in a remote village. I as the only foreigner and the experience was so authentic and the people were so excited.
Journalism and photography, January 2012
Dear VCD Nepal
These last three months have been some of the best time I have ever spent. Before coming to Nepal, I had never been to a place like Nepal. I was nervous at first, but Bicky and Santosh made me feel right at home. I never felt, at anytime, unsafe or alone. Bicky also placed me at the monastery in Pokhara which was a perfect fit for me. I made so many friends there, with both monks and other volunteers.
Some of my favorite memories are:
- Watching football at midnight
- Trying desperately to win the chess
- Stumbling around at midnight with Charles, trying to move the television set.
- Finally scoring a football goal against the monks.
- Having the card game "Marriage" explained to me three different times and still not getting it.
In all seriousness through, thank you so much for the experience. I will recommend VCD Nepal to all my friends and will try to come back sometime!
Durham, North Carolina, USA
Teaching monks- 3 months, January 2012
Dear Bicky and all of the VCD family
I do not even know how to thank you for the time I have spent in Nepal with VCD. I have gotten so much more out of this experience than I ever expected, and you are the reason for this.
I did one month of volunteer work in an orphanage in Chitwan, which was truly an amazing and memorable month. From day one I was treated like a family member in the orphanage, and I felt so much at home there. Even when I felt sad or sick, they took such good care of me. It was an incredibly rewarding experience to be a part of the everyday life in the orphanage, to help with cooking, cleaning, doing homework and generally just spending time with the kids and showing them lots of love. I learnt so much about myself in the process while learning about Nepali culture.
Once I had finished my month of volunteer work, Bicky even arranged a week of trekking in the Annapurna for me, and this was such an amazing experience as well. I wasn't expecting any more help from VCD's side, but even after the trekking I was able to stay in the lighthouse while enjoying Kathmandu. Never once in my 7 weeks in Nepal have I been left to my self ? VCD have always taken care of me and made sure that I knew that I had a home here and a safe place to return to.
Bicky, thank you for everything! I hope you never stop doing the amazing work that you do ? you help out so many Nepali people while giving us volunteers a truly amazing and unforgettable experience.
I will never forget Nepal.
Teaching at the orphanage - 4 weeks, January 2012
I can't believe my stay in Nepal is over for this time. For sure it is going to be strange to come home after more than three months with so many experiences.
Volunteering at orphanages really opened my eyes and made me appreciate what I have. I spent time in one orphanage in Lalitpur and one in Pokhara, both rewarding and challenging in their own ways. Like Bicky says, you just have to come here without expectations and remember that you are doing this for the children, and then this will be one of the highlights of your life. It is for me!
Not unexpectedly it has been hard sometimes, but from day one Bicky and everybody else in the lighthouse (including other volunteers) have been there to support and help me through the rough days. We are really like a big family!Not unexpectedly it has been hard sometimes, but from day one Bicky and everybody else in the lighthouse (including other volunteers) have been there to support and help me through the rough days. We are really like a big family!
I owe many thanks to Bicky, VCD Nepal and the whole lighthouse family for making my visit in Nepal unforgettable. Just being able to come and live at the lighthouse for a few days to regain energy is something I really appreciated. There are also many things apart from the volunteering that are memorable, like sightseeing, language classes, celebrating Dashain with Bickys family and just having lovely daal bhat together.
I will sure miss all of Nepal, but I bet this is not the last time we meet.
Dhanyabaad and pheri betola!
Teaching orphans for 3 months, September ? December 2011
Hello VCD! Well it's been an absolutely fabulous experience! I have no complaints, no regrets, just great satisfaction with all I have done and every single person that I have crossed paths with it's definitely an experience of a life time. From everyone in the Light House to the host family to all other help and assistance I've received it's been great. All this would not have had happened without BIkram, the Director of VCD Nepal. He has been more than just helpful and for seen all issues and taken care of them in advance. Things can get a little crazy sometimes and Bikram's gone out of his way to ensure the comfort of his volunteers. Well I am definitely coming back, not sure when and how, but time will tell I guess. Once again thank you Bikram for everything and hopefully I will see you and Nepal soon again. Keep up the awesome work and let the wonders of the universe unfold. With lots of love, .
With lots of love,
Teaching English - 4 weeks, November 2011
Well it's been an absolutely fabulous experience! I have no complaints, no regrets, just great satisfaction with all I have done and every single person that I have crossed paths with it's definitely an experience of a life time. From everyone in the Light House to the host family to all other help and assistance I've received it's been great. All this would not have had happened without BIkram, the Director of VCD Nepal. He has been more than just helpful and for seen all issues and taken care of them in advance. Things can get a little crazy sometimes and Bikram's gone out of his way to ensure the comfort of his volunteers. Well I am definitely coming back, not sure when and how, but time will tell I guess. Once again thank you Bikram for everything and hopefully I will see you and Nepal soon again. Keep up the awesome work and let the wonders of the universe unfold.
You went over and above your responsibility to us when we reached Pokhara and we found out the school we were to be placed in was going to have an extended holidays...within hours you had found us another placement at a monastery. And this is where I can't say enough, both my daughter and I had the time of our lives teaching the monks for 2 months. If anyone is even thinking of doing this?.I would recommend "do it" and do it with VCD.
Living in the monastery is such a beautiful peaceful atmosphere with such wonderful boys was something I will hold in my heart and soul forever. I was even able to hold a little medical clinic (as I am a children's nurse) after supper every night which brought me even closer to the boys.
This experience of teaching in Nepal opened a whole new door for me, I came home and took a teaching English as a second language course, and now I am planning on returning with some more skills and knowledge to teach at the monastery, and all because of this one experience with VCD....thanks so very much Bicky...this has changed my path in life.
Elizabeth and Emily
Teaching English for 2 months, September - November 2011
Thank you VCD and Bicky for one of the most memorable experiences in my life. Before volunteering I had been travelling around Asia about six months but it was Nepal that really opened my eyes. I have never met such nice and hospitable people, who made me feel extremely welcome and find new appreciation for little things in life.
I volunteered for two months and time has never passed so quickly. I first taught English at a Buddhist monastery and was amazed how eager those kids were to learn. The atmosphere at the monastery was peaceful but still full of laughs shared with my three classes of smart and playful little monks. At times teaching was more challenging than I had anticipated but seeing that smile of understanding light up the faces of my students made it all worth the effort and I could feel that my being there was really helping them.
I spent my second month in an orphanage in southern Nepal. This small orphanage of ten kids and a house mother truly became my second family during my stay there. I didn't feel I was a volunteer but part of their family helping them in their everyday lives: cleaning, cooking, helping the kids with their school homework and playing with them. I had my birthday while I was staying with them and the family threw me a touching birthday party with their neighbours. A memory that will stay with me forever.
Overall my time in Nepal was just amazing. Special thanks to Bicky for opening up his home, organazing everything and going to great lenghts to make sure all the volunteers, including myself, were happy. When I first came here I didn't expect to leave this place with two new brothers, eight new sisters and a peace of mind. I will miss this beautiful country, its people, Lighthouse ? and daal bhaat! Namaste.
Teaching English at a monastery and assisting at orphanage home - 2 monthsAugust - October 2011
VCD helps to learn the universal values of love & compassion
Wow! I can't believe that my travels end today. VCD Nepal was the most amazing way to end my journey and already I am planning my next trip with them. One month can truly fly by. Of course my volunteer experience in Nepal has come with its ups and downs (NOTE to readers- check the kids for head lice). I spent 2 weeks in a Pokhara orphanage and visited an orphanage in Chitwan. VCD has helped me to learn the universal values of love and compassion. Yes, teaching English is imperative to the Nepali children's future. However I found that the real need in these homes was just another smiling face that feels these children "I CARE"
Bicky- I can't explain how wonderful you are! You have taken everything I have said to you very seriously and have always tried to accommodate to my needs (Such as answering my 1000's of emails before I came!). Because of your organization and welcoming personality ? I felt so culture shock as I entered an Asian country. So simply thank you.
To future volunteers, good luck! There will be tears, laughter and many cups of Masala tea. But a warming Bicky and Santosh's cooking is so delicious. You may develop a dal/bhat belly.
Lots of Love,
Orphanage work 4 weeks, October 2011
I have had the most amazing four weeks here in Nepal and I want to thank you both for the part you played in it.
The light house really was a heaven in those first few days when I was shell-shocked by the bustle and noise of Kathmandu and felt like crying because everything was so new and strange.
And now I feel like crying because I have to leave soon!
The three weeks of teaching at the placement have been way too short; it is amazing how quickly I began to care for every single monks. I will miss the little monks; we used to play hide and seek with them for days!
Everyone I met along the way has been so friendly and warm welcoming; living here has taught me a lot about myself and how I want to live my life.
I hope I can come back here at some point and visit monastery again; it's not cheesy but true when I say the young monks really touched my heart.
So thank you again for the delicious dal/bhat, the accommodation, the travel arrangement and everything!
Nepal would not have been the same without you guys.
I wish you all the best and hope to see you again in the future!
4 weeks teaching, July 2011
I just want to say giant THANK you for providing this amazing opportunity.
From the moment I reached Nepal, you made me feel completely welcome. You, Santosh and Ronika made my first few days in Kathmandu so much fun.
And I completely fell in love with my placement so much fact. In fact that I definitely will come back. Thank you so much for sending me on placement so such a wonderful place. It changed my life!
Anyway, hope to see you again in the near future. Be amazing and keep up the good work!
Lots of love,
Teaching English for 7 weeks, July 2011
Thank you so much for giving me such an amazing opportunity and experience here in both Kathmandu and Godawari. These short 4 weeks with VCD Nepal have been the best of my life and being part of the VCD family has made it all the more better.
Thank you so much VCD for placing me in the monastery in Kathmandu alongside Veronika. She has been great and so has the placement. I will never forget the monks there, and how even just smiling at them and having them smile back brightens your day.
Everyone at VCD has been so wonderful and welcoming that the light house (VCD volunteer home) has become my "A HOME AWAY FROM HOME". It is so sad I have to leave my Nepal home.
I hope to return in the future (possibly next year-arko barsha!) and by then I will be up to scratch with Nepali language!
I hope you all keep well, and continue to do this fantastic work.
I will miss everyone here at the VCD.
Dhanyabaad (Thank you)
Love and best wishes,
4 weeks teaching placement, July 2011
Thank you Bicky and friends,
I had such a great time in Nepal. I am really happy that I have found this lovely organization and beautiful country. I will miss VCD family so much. I hope to visit next time with my family.
2 weeks placement, April 2011
My Life Affirming Experience
Thank you, Thank you and thank you VCD for life affirming experience. It is my last day today and though partly sad but I am so happy to take with me amazing memories and lifelong friends.
I have just completed 5 weeks teaching English placement at the monastery and I loved every moment, even the first evening nervous twinge when I wowed Bicky goodbye. The monks were very welcoming kind and wanted to know about me and tell me about their lives, so actually there was no opportunity to feel jealous!
I really enjoyed the teaching. I come from drama background so at times my teaching got rather creative and I challenged the boys at times which I hope helped them with their progression and learning.
Monastery life is a real eye opener. My placement was very spiritual and genuine place where everyone works, prays and values life.
Funniest thing- watching crazy Tibetian/Nepali music DVD's.
Not so Funny - Stomach Bug.
Teaching Buddhist Monks, 5 weeks
Dearest VCD family,
Thank you for this incredible, life changing experience. It is truly only a once in a life time adventure and I am thrilled VCD was part of it. Teaching English to the kid was challenging at the first but overcoming the challenge brought me a better understanding of their life, myself and what it means to be a genuine, kind, loving person, I will miss Nepal and hope to take what I have learned and put it into my daily life's practice!
Again, Bicky, Thank you from the bottom of my heart! I wish VCD the BEST of luck and look forward to watching it grow!
With Love Peace,
Teaching placement 4 weeks, April 2011
Amazing Nepali People
Tonight is my last night in Nepal. I am laying down on my bed and trying to find the words to explain my time in Nepal with VCD Nepal and how much thankful I am for every experience and for all the people that I met may be great, fantastic, wonderful and amazing people. But I think more than this about Nepali people.
After spending 3 months in Nepal, staying at the orphanage, at the Buddhist monastery (the best place in the world), travelling to Lumbini (The birth place of Buddha), Chitwan National Park and Tibet, I feel like a new Martha, may be not new but a more authentic Martha, I have learnt a lot about myself and I am going home with full of peace and love.
I loved my time with VCD because I felt free, free to do whatever I have wanted and that is why I will be always thankful to VCD and everyone at the volunteer home. They made me feel like home, like more of the family and completely free!
Thank you very much for everything, as part of this experience, very important part, you will be always in my heart. I will see you again may be in Nepal or Barcelona, I am sure!
Martha De Ramon
Working with orphans and monastery for 2 months, December 2010
Dearest VCD Family,
I am so sad to be leaving Nepal but I leave with so many memories. You made me and Annie feel so welcome in the volunteer home and your help continued throughout our time in Nepal. Taking us to our placement, giving is advice on Pokhara and helping us with Chitwan arrangements. We could not have had such a fantastic experience without you.
The placement was perfect and I left having experienced real Nepali culture as well as having made lifelong friends. I am sure it will remain the most beautiful place I ever visit, and the children's kind words will stay with me. I hope that we helped with their English pronunciation and that we inspired some of the girls to aim high. Although it saddened me to see so few girls in the classes, it gave me hope that they all longed to be doctors, nurses and other important members of society. Our host family was so kind and I am sure we will remain in contact.
The most important thing I will take away with me, apart from your friendship, is the definite decision that the charity sector is where I want to build my career. If I could help just a small proportion of the people you have already helped I would be very happy. So please, stay in contact and if you want any help/fundraising/marketing done in UK please let me know.
Thank you once again for everything you have done.
Lots of love,
Teaching English, Pokhara
Dear VCD Thanks for the most rewarding month of my life.
I leave now with every intention of returning! Nepal is such a fascinating and beautiful country, and I was guided so well through the most alien experiences of my life by Bikki, (the founder of VCD) and everyone around him.
I was in Nepal for a month ? half spent in Sauraha helping out at the Orphanage and the rest in Pokhara, Lumbini and Kathmandu. The Orphanage was wonderful; the family was so welcoming and eager to help me that it was sometimes difficult for them to allow me to help! The kids worked so hard and with such enthusiasm so I felt that their English really improved, and when they were at school I went around Chitwan seeing the most amazing places. The mother of the orphanage, Parbati, is the sweetest woman and was always concerned that I didn't eat enough. Everyone in Sauraha was eager to talk to me and show me around, and I couldn't meet someone new without them offering me sweet tea! I made such good friends that I went to stay with one in his home-village near Lumbini, and Bicky is so flexible that he helped me arrange it. There's so much freedom with VCD and Bicky's always ready with advice and contacts, so staying at the village was easy and enjoyable, Lumbini was fascinating!
Pokhara was nearly as brilliant as Chitwan, the lake and the World Peace Pagoda were worth the effort, and I met some friendly people there too, but Kathmandu was where I saw the most religious temples. Monkey Temple and Boudhanath are so serene and beautiful, Pashupatinath and Durbar Square are so lively and colourful, and the many shrines scattered around the city are so constantly surprising that just taking a walk in Kathmandu can be overwhelming! I felt so secure and looked after, and the food and the company is so good that even when I was ill I felt comfortable! Thank you, Gitte and Bicky, for doing so much to look after me, I can understand why Bicky calls everyone at the Lighthouse a family now! It feels so strange to be leaving soon, it's the same feeling I felt in England when I was just about to go to Nepal! I'm leaving home, but I'll be back. Thanks for the most rewarding month of my life.
Teaching in Nepal, One Month, March 2012