Volunteer role: Took part in Volunteer Nepal
‘If we are to love our neighbours, before doing anything else we must see our neighbours. With our imagination as well as our eyes, that is to say like artists, we must see not just their faces but the life behind and within their faces.’ – Frederick Buechner
Witnessing a group of Nepali women looking at a map of the world for the first time. Patching up my cracked mud floor to ensure that I would not fall through onto chickens three metres below. Facilitating a women’s group and hearing my Nepali host-mother share her story of domestic violence. Learning how to harvest millet from a four year old girl. Discussing with 16 year old school teachers whether puberty is shameful. Attending a healing ceremony by the village shaman for a volunteer with stomach pains. Writing scripts for role plays on HIV/AIDS. Losing my breath trying to keep up with my host grandmother who was carrying 30 litres of water up a mountain. Attending intensive six hour Nepali language classes. Being sprayed with water as kids were learning for the first time how to wash their hands. Discovering my host family’s vegetable patch growing underneath my bed. Dancing through sugar cane fields with girls from my village. Watching the eyes of my Nepali host mother as she was drawing on a piece of paper for her first time.
“Losing my breath trying to keep up with my host grandmother who was carrying 30 litres of water up a mountain. “
I thank my Nepali family and friends of Piple and Birpani villages as well as Jewish Aid Australia for allowing me to begin my journey of ‘seeing the life behind the faces’. Not only have I applied development insights, gained through participating in Volunteer Nepal and coordinating the Sudanese Refugee tutoring program, to my work in policy and advocacy at Oxfam Australia, but I am also grateful for the cross-cultural understandings that I will carry with me for life. “The attempt to understand the experience of another is the major human superpower- it can shrink distance, cut through social and power hierarchies, transcend differences, and provoke political and social change.” – Elizabeth Thomas
Want to find out more about Volunteer Nepal? Click here now. Applications for the 2014 program close 18 August 2013.