Although Nepal has its own popular volunteers program, Nepal is also a popular destination for international volunteers, who have been contributing for over last five decades, working in various sectors in Nepal.
From VSO to Peace Corps, UN Volunteers to KOICA, Japan’s Oversea Volunteer and Australian Volunteers, a number of developed countries have been sending volunteers in Nepal who return to their homeland taking Nepal in their memory for a long time to come.
Along with contributing to the socio-economic development of the country, the volunteers remain lifelong brand ambassadors to Nepal. Many American Peace Corps Volunteers and VSO volunteers have proved this.
Recently, even Nepalese volunteers like female community health volunteers and National Development Volunteers have made enormous contributions by working in remote parts of Nepal.
As volunteerism is taking new heights, Nepal’s Volunteer Service Agencies organized a conference on the International Volunteers Day. On the occasion, different speakers representing various organizations discussed different aspects of volunteerism in Nepal.
The participants discussed issues like what volunteerism can achieve to eradicate poverty and inequality in relation to sustainable development goals.
Opening the program, Kristine Blokhus, deputy representative of UNFPA, said volunteers have been contributing immensely in Nepal. Elizabeth Hacker, researcher on behalf of VSO, highlighted the study conducted by VSO on volunteerism. Chief executive officer of Sherpa Adventure Gear Ashutosh Tiwari discussed the way to link private sector in volunteerism.
Celebrated with the slogan of Global Applauses, Give Volunteer a Hand, the international volunteers' day program concluded in Nepal giving awards to volunteers.
“I am volunteer, here is my story”
I am Nanu Shrestha Kumal, from Salyantar, Dhading district. In a joint family where I am the elder daughter, it was difficult for my family to continue sending me to school. They found a man 10 years older than me whom I had to marry because of tradition marriage leaving me no choice to continue studying. Within a year I became a mother to a son.
In 2013, VSO Nepal through its partner Aasaman Nepal implemented the Sisters for Sisters ‘Education in Nepal in the district. The project aims to get girls to finish grade 8 and bring out of school girls to the school and stop them getting married in their early age.
I wanted to have my own identity besides being a wife and mother. I applied and was selected to be a Big sister volunteer to help little girls continue their education. One of my responsibilities to my four little sisters was to visit their parents and convince them to send their daughters regularly to school. My first day at one of my little sister’s house was not a happy experience compared to the present. I went to Sharmila’s (not her real name) house. She was did not go to school regularly because she had to do a lot of housework. I learned that her parents were preparing her marriage. Sharmila told me that she wanted to study but was forced to get married because it is tradition of marrying at a young age. I told her I was not able to study after I got married at an early age. I then talked with her parents to let Sharmila continue her studies so that she could help them. I found it tough to convince her parents because they said I was influencing them for the sake of money. But I knew I had to help Sharmila so I didn’t give up. Though the words of parents were hurtful, I frequently visited her parents to convince them why it was important to send her to school. My persistence paid off with her parents seeing that I was sincere. They slowly felt comfortable and accepted me as a mentor to their daughters.
My frequent visits to my little sisters made me learn more about them– what they liked, their problems, how they were doing in school. I was also able to watch them grow from young girls to teenagers and help them understand the changes they are undergoing.
My life, has gone through ups and down like the hills in Salyantar. I became a widow last year at the age of 25. People pity me, but my own story has made me aware of how important it is to be educated and be independent. I wish all the parents would understand what their daughter can be if provided with education. Today I give my life for the little sisters.
Nanu Shrestha Kumal was one of the winners of this year’s national volunteer awards.