I couldn’t leave Nepal without writing another post about the amazing time I spent at the Social Development Center.
I didn’t know what to expect when I decided to volunteer at the center. I wanted to be useful and hoped that I wouldn’t do more harm than good. This may sound strange to many, but there is a lot of controversy about the unintended consequences of volunteering overseas, particularly with children. Voluntourism has become a big industry with many agencies charging large fees for arranging volunteer opportunities. This website has useful information and posts that made me think carefully about what I was doing. This post was also very thought-provoking.
I was lucky to find the site Omprakash which matches volunteers with places looking for help, but not charging a placement fee.
I knew going into this, however, that it was more about fulfilling my own needs than providing any kind of service. Through volunteering, I could get a glimpse into Nepali life and get to know some great kids. I just didn’t want my actions to have a negative impact on them. I chose the Social Development Center because of the family-like structure of the home and the fact that they frequently receive international volunteers. Because of this, the children are used to foreigners coming and going, and they do get an opportunity to practice their English and learn about the world through the volunteers.
My initial impressions of the home have held true. The children and adults at this home truly make a family. They have developed strong bonds and care for each other. The house mother, along with her adult daughters, have given the children structure while allowing them to grow as individuals. It is hard to come up with the words to describe the feeling I had every time I was with the children, so I’ll use some photos. Many of the photos here were taken by the children themselves, as they loved using my camera and iPod.