My name is Pontus Johansson and I am 28 years old. I come from Sweden and work normally as a social worker. I stayed in Nepal for four months as a volunteer. I have spent my time in different places of Nepal. Papas House in Dhapasi, Kathmandu has worked as my base during my spell in Nepal. This is the house where all new volunteers live when they arrive in Nepal. The volunteers share the house with 14 lovely children. It’s a nice house with many rooms and a kitchen just for volunteers where you can cook your own food if you prefer to do that. Otherwise, you can have breakfast and dinner in the other kitchen and you just have to eat nothing else.
After two weeks in the house it was time for me going to another place. I went with bus from Kathmandu to Manthali in Ramechhap district. The bus trip was pretty tough but 11 hours after leaving Kathmandu the bus finally reached Manthali.
Manthali was a cool place. It’s very beautiful and the environment is really nice. When you have seen the crazy traffic, so loudly and polluted in Kathmandu it’s really nice to experience something else. I stayed for two weeks in Manthali and lived in a guesthouse behind a hospital. It was just a room with a bed but ok for me. For toilet and shower I had to walk about 1 minute. The toilets were ok but the smelling affected me negative so I had problem with taking showers but most because they were ice-cold. I had all my meals (daal bhaat) in the same small restaurant two times every day. I will not complain, the food was pretty good and the staff so friendly. They also boiled water to me for every meal. If I wanted pure cold water I could just go to the market (5 minutes from my room) and easily find it.
I spent most of my time in Manthali in the huge government school with more than 3000 students. I didn’t teach English in a normal way, but I met a lot of students and had a presentation about myself, my family and Sweden. I tried to tell them about what is similar and difference between Sweden and Nepal, for example climate, education system and marriage system and so on. They were very interested and listened well but also the personal staff had a lot of questions and behaved so well all the time. It was easy to like them because they really liked me. In free time I preferred to read and just relax. I think it’s important to know that you can feel a little lonely sometime, but a good book is recommended to fill up your time. I also spoke with different people at the restaurant when having dinner in evening so I wasn’t alone all free time.
I had two good weeks in Manthali. So friendly people with a good mix of serious behavior and humour. It was fascinating to see how interested the children were in me; they screamed my name everywhere so I almost felt like a movie star. Complete the good food and the nice environment and you can probably understand why I liked it so much.
My next adventure outside of Kathmandu was in Narti, a small village about 10 km from Lamahi in Dang district. At least nine hours with microbus from Kathmandu. I spent my time with rescued girls in a new opened hostel in daytime for three weeks. I taught the girls in English and rest of time I tried to have fun with them. The girls were from 6 to 16 years old and all of them very kind and grateful to having me there. The girls have generally problem to speak English, but it was nice to see how motivated they were to learn more. I recommend you to have some Nepali language knowledge before you join these girls for volunteering, otherwise it can be very difficult to communicate with them.
I lived with a Nepali family about 1 km from the girls hostel. I had my own room and felt comfortable because the family threat me so well. They were really friendly and nice all the time and I felt more like a family member than a stranger. Just one person spoke English but sometimes it’s enough to have an obliging response. I used to eat at the hostel in the morning and in the house in the evening. It was no problem to buy pure water in one of the small stores between the house and the hostel. But I had to go to Lamahi for toilet paper. The house was very simple, no furniture and no shower. The squat toilet was in a small building close to the house and I highly recommend a torch. I was able to use water outside of the house and I did for washing my hands and my face but for a whole body wash I preferred the river, which was located 15 minutes (walk) from the house.
Narti was a great experience for me. I really liked the girls and the family in the house where I stayed. It was also interesting to live such a simple life, useful for me that’s for sure. Sometimes it was difficult because you don’t have so much to do in free time and all days are similar but I really recommend this place for a couple of weeks.
My third place for volunteering was in a small village called Parsa in Chitwan district. 4-5 hours with microbus from Kathmandu. I was teaching English in class 6, 7 and 8 in a school with about 200 students. All students lived at the hostel in the same area as the school. I lived in a house just 200 meters from the school. Two teachers lived in this house and one teacher lived at the hostel. I became a close friend to these teachers as we spent a lot of time together. It was easier to have something to do compared to Manthali and Narti because I had always people around me and we easily communicated to each other. The food was very good, without any question the best Nepali food I ate in Nepal. It was a really good experience to meet these people for two weeks. I was impressed to see how motivated, concentrated and respectful the students were. And the staff just welcomed me and I felt I was a part of the group from the first day. The principal organized so I had my own schedule and that made anything easier for me. I have just good things to say about everything; wonderful people and access to western toilet and shower with warm water and as I said before the food was very good. The only thing I had to buy was pure water and I just paid then someone brought the water for me. I almost felt like a prince.