adamlaird

Volunteering… “Sustainably”

First of all, I noticed that since I am in Nepal, I have a handful of Nepali viewers’ every day, and want to make a few comments in regards to this.  I want to say that, above all else, I absolutely love living in Nepal.  The country has some of the most beautiful sights the entire world can offer and I have found the people to be nothing less than extremely giving and hospitable toward me.  I speak about Nepal in many different contexts in my writing and will continue to do so.  Some of the writing expressed in my blog relate directly to the country and my thoughts about the people and the way in which people live here.  I want to state clearly that none of what I say is in any way meant to offend anyone that may read what I write.  I find the cultural differences between my homeland and this country to be very interesting, and my writing is an attempt to explain to others how amazingly unique of a place this is, so they may one day feel inspired enough to come see Nepal firsthand. Moving on, I am excited to briefly explain some of the humanitarian work we are doing here while going into greater depth with my thoughts on volunteering in places like Nepal.

Apart from the work I have been sent to Nepal to do, I along with my friend Lisa have taken it upon ourselves to try to create real change in the lives of Nepali children through active, sustainable volunteer work.  The work we do really isn’t to be confused with mission work, or work otherwise based on religious values of any kind (not to critizes the great work that some of these groups do).  The work we do and the time we spend doing it is simply and solely done because we feel it is the right thing to do; to help others because we have been given to amazing opportunity to do so.  We do this because to evoke the change you want to see the world, you have to be proactive. You have to get up and prove to people that ordinary, average people like ourselves can do something to make positive and lasting change.

I will also address the question I tend to hear quite often from people at home; “Why not help people here in America, kids here need help to. What’s wrong with helping out here at home?”  My standard response to this question is… “There is nothing wrong at all with that”.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to help people who need it wherever you are in the world, including America, and  I would encourage anyone to do so.  What I would also encourage people with this sentiment to do is to go to a place that is widely accepted as an underdeveloped part of the world.   I would encourage anyone to do this really; to go to a place that has true, third world poverty, to experience and see it, and then decide whether or not their feelings remain unchanged.  I would say that from my experience in seeing different places around the world, that a huge majority of these people’s minds would be completely changed.

Shifting gears, our current situation here in Nepal is extremely positive with so many opportunities to get out there and start making a real difference.  We are especially focused on what I would describe as “sustainable volunteering”, in other words, doing things that make more long-lasting change.  As an example, while it is noble and heart-felt to feed the hunger, what is even better is to introduce a way to produce food in a highly cost-effective manner to underprivileged people.  One of the small projects Lisa and I are currently working on is trying to grow a low maintenance, low-cost vegetable garden on the rooftop of an orphanage housing 22 children here in Pokhara.  The garden, if all goes as planned, will be transformed into a great source of nutritious vegetables for children of the orphanage, while the orphanage itself will no longer have to purchase less nutritious more expensive produce at the market.

One of the things we feel is important with our work is actually being there, “getting our hands dirty”, and showing that we are truly invested in the positive change we are trying to create

 

The overriding goal of the project, however, is even more important.  If the garden works and the orphanage can effectively produce fresh veggies over time, they will be empowered by the fact that they are actually providing for the children there by themselves, without the hope that another tourist will come in and the save the day for that month with a donation of food.  Their ability to self-sustain will mean that they will be able to better provide their kids with the skills they need to grow up to become successful people who are able to carry out the same dreams that at one point seemed impossible.  Although a little vegetable garden seems quite insignificant, self sustainable ideas like it will create empowerment, and with empowerment, so much more is possible.

What we are excited about with this particular project, is that we will be here to hopefully see the process take place.  We will be able to see how to better complete similar mini-projects for the future, and we will be their hand in hand with the people the garden will benefit to show others that a simple idea and a small amount of time can really create change in the lives of others.  Please feel free to comment or provide other sustainable project ideas you have experience with…we  fairlynew at gardening also..haha…so any help in that department would also be appreciated.

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