In this article I will share with you my experiences volunteering for SCIF. It was a great experience and there are three highlights: the clean water project, the broken blender story and the line dance party. I will also share with you my daily duties and my overall volunteer experience in SCIF MBI Nepal.
Thursday, May 30, 2018 is the first time I visited the SCIF orphanage in Nepal, Kathmandu. I walked into the house with a nervous feeling. I was afraid that it would be a little awkward to meet this big family for the first time but the kids and staff immediately made me feel that my worry was unnecessary.
I arrived around 9:30am, Basanta (the founder of SCIF) was in the living room helping Somraj (one of the kids) with his homework. Basanta greeted me and Somraj said hello to me with a big smile. Soon after, all of the kids came down from the second floor to get ready for school. I greeted them one by one. They made me feel welcome right away. The children were very disciplined, they lined up in the front yard putting on their shoes and socks.
I jumped right in. I started helping kids to put on their shoes and socks and we had small conversations. Meghraj spoke great English and was eager to get to know me and ask me a lot of questions. There were a couple of older kids, including Meghraj. I was impressed by how helpful they were to the younger kids. The older children helped the younger ones with their shoes and socks. So nice!
I went with Basanta and Lal Bahadur (staff member) to walk the kids to school across the street around 11:30am. When we returned to the house Basanta gave me a tour of the house. He introduced me to his sister, and the staff that run the orphanage and offered me some tea. I loved seeing the daily schedules on wall. Everything is very organized and the place is simple and neat.
When the staff made my tea, I noticed that they put the water in a big container sitting on the kitchen floor into a water filter container and let it sit for 30 minutes before drinking. Basanta explained to me that they have to buy big container of drinking water from a truck every month and filter this water before they can drink it. I asked him if this is how people live that in Nepal get their drinking water. He said, most the people install a LED electronic water filter machine on the water pipe to get clean drinking water but is a big cost to do that. The orphanage hasn’t had the ability to do so yet. My clean water project idea started from here.
Next, I ask Basanta if I could clean the all of the kid’s shoes. (One thing you will notice of my volunteer experience is that the staff is very supportive of any ideas you have that can help.) Basanta was happy with my idea and offered to help me clean the shoes together.
After I finished cleaning the shoes, I noticed a staff member Lila is getting ready to wash all the kids’ winter jackets. I offered to help her and Basanta join the washing jackets party as well. We all laughed, because I was full of energy working on one thing after another. Basanta is a very nice guy, instead of letting me clean by myself, anything I want to do he did it with me and taught me how to clean each single thing. Basanta taught me to put soap on the jacket and use the brush to brush the jacket against the floor. (Note: I know this is a traditional way to wash clothes in a lot of Asian countries).
I asked Basanta if they ever thought about getting a washing machine. He told me that he was thinking about it before but he wants kids to learn how to wash their own socks and small items. Washing these jackets definitely wore me out! We had to rinse each jacket three times and squeeze the water out by hand and carry them to the roof of the house to dry them on the roof. I finally decided to take a break after washing the jackets.
Around 11:30am, staff member Lal bahadur, Pabitra and I stared to prepare lunch for all the kids. We made Roti (Nepali bread) and vegetable soup. I noticed there was a lunch and dinner food menu on the wall. The menu is all vegetarian choices except for Saturday when chicken is served. I asked the staff if they only have meat once a week. They said: yes! I said: “Great! I will come back Saturday for some chicken, lol.” They laughed a lot, I was pretty silly with them. Anyway, while we were cooking lunch one thing I noticed is they need a bigger pot to cook for 13 kids and 4 staff members.
At 12pm we picked up all the younger kids from school to walk them back to the house to have lunch. The older kids eat lunch in school. The children were excited to see me again and we sat on the floor in circle at the dining room enjoying conversations and lunch.
At 1pm we sent the kids back to school. The staff took a short nap before the kids returned from school at 4. During this time, Basanta and I sat in the living room having a long conversation. I showed him on Google maps where I am from and he shared his story about how he started this orphanage.
At 4pm younger kids and older kids returned from school, Meghraj and Bhuvan (older kids) were happy to see me again. I asked them how school went and they responded that school was great and they were happy to see me again. Next, I helped the girls change out of their school uniforms. After all the children changed their clothes they went to the front yard to wash their own socks. The two older boys helped wash socks with the younger children.
Between 4:30pm to 5:30pm I helped the kids with their school homework. Pasang and Saraswati are have good English skills. They also helped the other children with their English homework. I was happy to see all the kids helping each other with their homework and working as a team to support each other.
About 5:30pm everyone’s homework was finished. I asked Basanta if we could have a dance party. Another one of my ideas. All the kids and Basanta were excited about this dance party. I appointed Basanta as the DJ of the party. He laughed and told the kids line up and listen to the DJ, which made me laugh. It was pretty funny.
Next thing you know, we had the best dance party ever! The children taught me a Nepali dance. I taught the kids the Cupid Shuffle, a line dance from America. Then we had a girls and boys dance off competition. It was a crazy fun party. The staff were laughing so hard. I guess I was pretty silly and funny with all the kids.
At 6pm I started to help out with preparing dinner. The girls were playing in the front yard garden and boys were playing with an old soccer ball on the front yard. Even though there were just a few toys for them to play with you could still see that all the kids were happy and enjoying their time playing.
Broken Blender Story
While preparing dinner, I was asked to use the blender to blend some potatoes. (By that I mean a big pot of potatoes). I thought this was an easy job until the blender broke! I had to make so many pounds of blended potatoes that by the time I blended the last round, the blender broke on me. Oh boy! I was glad it was the the last round, at least I finished the blending job. I guess I was too embarrassed to tell everyone I broke the blender, so I decided to clean up the blender and put it back to where it belongs. I thought I might try to buy a new and blender later to replace the broken one. After dinner I said goodbye to everyone. My first day at SCIF orphanage ended with a broken blender secret that no one knew about.
Back at my hotel, I shared my volunteer story with my friend Bill. He was very excited about my experience and decided to visit the orphanage with me. However, when I shared my story about the blender, my friend was speechless with me. Hummm, what have I done.
On Saturday June 2, I went with my friend Bill and our driver Sujan to do some shopping for the orphanage in the morning. I explained to Sujan that I needed to buy a new soccer ball, some kids games and a big pot for cooking. We could not have done this without our driver Sujan. He was so helpful, he knew where to get things and helped negotiate fair prices.
We drove to the orphanage, where there is a big security gate outside. I stood on top of the big gate calling the kids and waving my hand. As soon as they heard me, Basanta and the kids ran outside with big smiles and opened the gate for us. I was very excited to see them and they were excited to see me as well.
I give the big pot to the staff and opened up the games with the kids. The kids immediately made Bill and Sujan fell welcome, and invited them to play together. My friend Bill fell in love with this little girl named Dolma. They seemed to have a good connection. Dolma took his hand led him on a tour of the house. My driver Sujan was also very engaged with the kids. Sujan spoke to them in Nepali and went outside to play soccer/football. Later on that day, we started our second round of dance party with two new guests Bill and Sujan. Guess whose idea that was? HaHa! It was a fun day.
On our way back to the hotel, I communicated to Bill and Sujan that I want to help the orphanage install an electronic water filter. Bill offered to split the cost with me and our local driver Sujan said that he would call around and make an appointment with the company to come to the orphanage to set it up on Sunday. I felt very lucky to have Sujan as my driver in Nepal, without his help this would not happen. He was excited about this whole experience and volunteered to help. I also asked Sujan take me to the market on Sunday morning to buy a blender!
On Sunday June 3, we returned to the orphanage again. I brought in a new blender to the orphanage and told the staff about my broken blender secret. We were all laughing. I was also laughing at myself! Basanta was so nice, he told me that it was okay, I did not have to buy a new one. Everyone was so nice about it, and it was a big relief for me.
Soon after we arrived, the installation technician from the water filter company arrived (he carried the filter with him on motor scooter!) We helped as much as we could to support the installation. It took less than two hours to install the filter. The children were excited to see the new water filter when they returned home from school (Sunday is a school day in Nepal.). Bill and I made sure the water filter was installed properly and before we left the orphanage.
At the end, all the kids ran out to the 2nd floor balcony to wave goodbye to us. I promised them I will visit again!
What a wonderful experience I had with all these wonderful people! Basanta, all the members of the staff, our driver Sujan, Bill and me we had never met before but we worked together to make this clean water project happen. Thank you all!
Lastly, hope you enjoyed my volunteer story in SCIF Nepal and I hope you will decide to visit or help out the orphanage. The SCIF children are so very nice and warm. The staff are friendly and helpful and doing amazing work for these amazing kids.
If this story touched you and you would like to help us make a difference, visit us at SCIF @ Volunteer Work Nepal. We have a couple of Volunteer packages, otherwise you can make the most of your time here by visiting some of Nepal’s most popular landmarks at the same time with these travel packages, where 100% of the profits will go to the orphanage!