Volunteers are the lifeblood of Meaningful Volunteer and we love them so much!
Here are a couple of testimonies from some recent volunteers. Feel free to contact us if you want to talk to them directly.
“Before coming to Nepal my life experience was stagnant it seemed. I had a wonderful job, friends, and activities yet felt unfulfilled. There was something missing, and at the time I didn't know what it was.
Now that I have been here four months, through Meaningful Volunteer, I can tell you that it was exploration, community, and unconditional love. The people in Rithepani as well as Women's Skills Development Organization have treated me with the utmost respect and offer a sense of belonging I had never felt. The culture is oneness. They call people not by their name, but by their relation; brother, sister, son, daughter, and so on.
To share in this experience with other volunteers has made it even more rich. We have all expressed how inspired and loved we felt. I am forever grateful and will always cherish the smiles and laughs, as well as the lessons learned. My advice is to stay open and say yes, you never what where the road will lead.
If you are interested in seeing the world, and gaining a new perspective on life, this is an experience I would not pass up. Besides Rithepani, which has immense beauty (Himalayan range, rivers, waterfalls, agriculture, wildlife, foliage) there are infinite possibilities to explore. Kathmandu (Swayamboudhanath, Pahupatinath, Patan, Boudhanath, Garden of Dreams, Thamel), Pokhara (Devi's Falls, Gupteshwor/Mahendra/Chamera Caves, Sarangkot, Matepani/Yamdi Monasteries, Phewa/Begnas Lake). And if you are wanting to go to Lumbini (birthplace of Buddha) I highly recommend that or trekking through the Himalayas.
“The month I spent in Rithepani, Nepal was an incredible experience. The people of the village are generous and kind. When it came time to leave I realized how connected I felt with so many people. I couldn't tell anyone how I felt but somehow we all seemed to connect. I knew nothing about the culture before I arrived and I am still pondering the experience I had, immersed in a small village, but not far from the tourist area of Pokhara, where we could escape to for a real cup of coffee.
The environment around Rithepani is amazing. I had never seen land like this. There is a river that carved a canyon through the valley and the village sits at the edge of the upper edge of this canyon looking across the valley. The first few days we were overcast because we were at the end of monsoon season. One day a snow covered rock appeared sitting on a cloud. As the clouds cleared the entire horizon filled with the Himalaya mountains. It looks like you could just walk over to them, but they are three days drive away. They are so immense they are hard to comprehend. They are just there, and beautiful.
My host family were very concerned with my welfare, and I felt no threat or concern with my personal safety from anyone in the community. It took a while for some members of the community to ask questions. Considering I didn't speak their language I was surprised that I connected with as many people as I did and I was impressed with how many spoke some English, enough to have some meaningful exchanges.
Living with a family in their home was a new experience for me. I really had no idea what to expect. I found out we eat Dal Baht and was surprised at the variety I was served. I was always served meals first and it was strange for me to have to be ready for my meals on time so the family could eat on time. I learned how to use a squat toilet. I didn't think about it before I got there but it was the first question I was asked, if I had any problem using one. I learned. I wasn't able to communicate all that I wished to, but I was able to accept things like being served toast in the morning even though I really didn't want it. I had a room to myself with a lock on the door, and felt the lock protected the family from me accusing someone of theft more than it protected me from any theft.
I think the community was very curious about this American walking around with his camera. I felt that there was very little time that I spent alone, even when I was alone. The music from the speaker at the temple is still playing in my head. I still have more stories to to learn. I am still reviewing the video and photos I shot and someday soon there will be a story about my experience in Rithepani.”