Voluntary Service Overseas: Half A Century

From renowned historian of Nepal John Whelpton to Mark Temple, VSO has brought many volunteers from Netherland and England to Nepal

April 20, 2014, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol: 07 No. -20 April 18- 2014 (Baishakh 5, 2071)

Although VSO is a small volunteer organization working in Nepal over the last five decades, its contribution to the modernization and transformation of Nepalese society is immense. By bringing the much needed volunteers in the early days of Nepal, VSO supported building the country’s foundation.

The connection built by VSO by helping bring the people of different walks life from Britain to Nepal provided Nepal the much needed exposure to the outside world. Isolated from the outside world for centuries, Nepal opened up to modernization only very late.  One of the important contributions of VSO for Nepal is this opening up of the new connection to the outside world.

Many left just completing their regular work as volunteers. However, some volunteers maintained longer relations, contributing to explore Nepal’s unique and unwritten history. Along with the contribution in the sector of development, its contribution in the health sector is also immense. A renowned historian, John Whelpton, is one such great contributor for Nepal.

Known for his work in the history of Nepal, John Whelpton has brought out many interesting and important historical records of Nepal. Whelpton has written a number of books, highlighting the political development of Nepal.

Arriving in Nepal in 1972 as a VSO volunteer, Whelpton worked during the winters of 1972 and 1973 at Shri Thakur Ram College in Birgunj in the terai plains and also gave pronunciation training to local school teachers. Then until 1974, he was at Amrit Science Campus.

“In Nepal, I made several of my closet friends, I returned here annually and have been researching and writing on the country’s history and politics since 1978,” writes John Whelpton, in celebration of VSO’s 50 years in Nepal.

“In March 2014, VSO Nepal celebrated its 50th anniversary. It is good time to reflect the path that we have trodden over the years to contribute to the Nepali people’s development  journey and aspirations. Yet VSO’s Nepal journey cannot be described simply in terms of time,” said country director Arlene Mahina.

VSO started its operations in Nepal in 1964. Ever since it has seen all the ups and downs of Nepal’s modernization process and it remains a part of all the political changes and transformations in Nepal.  While celebrating its fifty years in Nepal, VSO has made a history by itself and become a part of Nepal’s modernization process. Since its first 14 volunteers arrived in Nepal in 1964, VSO has already sent over 800 volunteers in Nepal to support Nepal’s process of development in education, health, agriculture and other important sectors.

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