Penny's Travels

Not Just Another Tourist – A Dormant Desire to Serve Others

 A few years ago, I realized that purely being a tourist had lost its appeal for me. I wanted more out of my travels; where I could ‘give back’ to the country I was visiting.  I had a dormant desire to connect with people at a grass roots level and contribute in some way to help those in the disadvantaged countries I often travel.

I soon found out there are volunteer projects to suit every interest, offered by many organizations across the globe and include  education, conservation, building & construction, agriculture,  health, sanitation and water, sport, wildlife rehabilitation and working with underprivileged children. There was no reason why I could not contribute by sharing my knowledge with a broader cross section of society, after all, I was older, wiser and I had a wealth of experience. Age is no barrier when it comes to volunteering but it does require patience, an open mind and heart, and not to be  full of one’s own importance.

Volunteering abroad can be a life changing experience – for you and the people, places or creatures you’re helping. There is something to be said about Confucius’ saying, “I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand.” My experiences with volunteering has certainly changed my attitudes and beliefs.

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit Nepal where I took time out to catch up with some Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) who are doing a wonderful job in Kathmandu working with orphaned children.Stephs-Photos-India-2012-146.jpg

Nepal Orphans Home (NOH) welcomes volunteers. 

There is no welfare system in Nepal and there are many NGOs which have been set up to try to cater for the needs of children who have been abused or abandoned. Most of Kathmandu’s street children are drug addicts and many end up in the sex industry or as victims of trafficking.

One organization who is doing a wonderful job in the area of health and education is the Nepal Orphans Home, (NOH) which is located in Kathmandu.

NOH operates four children’s homes for more than 130 boys and girls in the Kathmandu Valley. The children are orphans or have parents unable to provide for them.

I met with Michael Hess, the founder and chatted with him while he prepared lunch for “his” children and I also had the opportunity to attend a basketball game later that afternoon. Michael is “Papa” to these children and his patience and love for each and every one of them is very evident.

Michael’s vision is simple and reflects what most parents desire for their children. Michael wants his children to feel safe in a nurturing and loving environment with the basic provisions of food, shelter and clothing, as well as schooling and health care. His mission is not just to rescue children from abject poverty, but to enable them to develop and realize their full potential.

India-2012-195.JPGNOH operates four children’s homes for more than 130 boys and girls in the Kathmandu Valley. The children are orphans or have parents unable to provide for them.

I can vouch for the wonderful work Michael and his staff at NOH do to support the children in their care. The majority of the children are girls who have been rescued from the Kamlari System of indentured servitude, prevalent in western Nepal. If you would like to volunteer  in some way, a work visa is required (even if work is unpaid) It is best to contact the Nepal Embassy for more information about visas and make sure you amend your insurance, as any form of work voids your “tourist” travel insurance. Nepal Orphans Home can always do with school stationery, such as pencils, erasers, rulers etc.,  and would be grateful for your support.

While there are aspects of Nepali culture which will be confronting to western travelers it is always important to go with an open mind and more importantly, an open heart when you are considering volunteering.

Volunteers provide a wealth of badly-needed expertise which is desperately needed in developing countries throughout the world and your contribution in any small way is always appreciated.

Safe Travels.

Penny Frederiksen

About Penny Frederiksen

Penny enjoys writing for a variety of blogs and magazines where she hopes to inspire readers to travel and explore the world. She is a regular contributor to publications in Russia, The United Kingdom, and South East Asia. Penny lives in rural Australia and her love affair with travel and photography started at a very young age..the National Geographic Magazines at her local dentist! ” I loved the wonderful stories and photographs – they brought history and culture alive.” Penny’s independent, solo travel started about 10 years ago when she realized all her friends had no interest in photography and getting into the backstreets and villages of Asia. She enjoys traveling to exotic locations each year both on photography tours and by herself, showing other women that with planning and confidence, they too can visit worldly destinations on their own. Some of her most recent destinations include Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Vietnam, UAE, Turkey, India, Nepal, and Myanmar. “Travel makes me step outside my comfort zone and get a better perspective of the world around me”

4 thoughts on “Not Just Another Tourist – A Dormant Desire to Serve Others”

  1. Confucius’ saying, “I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand.”. Volunteering is doing by heart. Penny Thank you for writing about Nepal in such a credible way. I bet, it inspires many good souls.

    • Thank you for your comment Bijaya.
      “Affection, a sense of community and a sense of concern for others are not some kind of luxury. They’re about the survival of humanity” Dalai Lama 11/6/2014.

  2. Penny, Such beautiful and really interesting writing – we would love to do these sorts of things on our travels but I cant seem to find anywhere suitable to do similar things with our kids In tow.. especially as the main reason we’re travelling is to show them the world and how to give something back opposed to Disneyland! I am now going to spend my afternoon reading through your articles and writing down the amazing places to visit!

    Look forward to speaking more

    • Thank you so much for your kind comments Amy. It is difficult traveling full stop, without the addition of 2 young children. With 4 kids of my own I found it was best to keep things simple – remember they have short attention spans and they get very tired (add, cranky and hungry) even without constant travel. Best wishes for your future travels and keep in touch.

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