“Founded on the values of solidarity and mutual trust, volunteerism transcends all cultural, linguistic and geographic boundaries. By giving their time and skills without expectation of material reward, volunteers themselves are uplifted by a singular sense of purpose.”
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, for the International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development 5 December 2012.
Volunteering has given me so so much in return. In celebration of International Volunteer Day and in honour of the amazing volunteers that I have come across both in the UK and here in Nepal. Aside from the VSO volunteers, especially the ones in Nepal, living in remote areas and those helping with the earthquake disaster work, still living in tents, I wanted to write about just a small few of the many inspiring people I have met here in Kathmandu who also volunteer.
Purusottam Dangol. My quite, unassuming landlord was alone in our house when the first earthquake struck. As a talented architect and author of a book on Nepal Temples, despite like many of us feeling scared and worrying about the aftershocks, he immediately volunteered with the Department of Archaeology for initial disaster assessment of various monuments of Kathmandu valley. Aside from his busy work schedule he is volunteering to I recall a welcome distraction during the earthquake aftershock, delving through our photographs to find images of a treasured temple in Bungamati before it was destroyed. and is helping to rebuild .
Purusottam at Pooja time
Michael Rosenkrantz. I met Mike at VSO Nepal when I first arrived in Kathmandu. He was a volunteer in Nepal since 2012, at the time working in the Livelihoods area at the time. Mike aside from championing the plight of the Nepalis, in his many writings in the local press, also coached an Army wheelchair basketball team and still mentors young Nepalis in teaching them to coach other wheelchair basketball teams in the Kathmandu Valley.
Mike and coaches
Can you spot Mike?
Katja Vauhkonen. As a UN Volunteer working on gender and social inclusion, Katya never ceases to amaze me with her love of animals. Whenever a group of us are eating out she reminds us to give her our leftovers which she collects for the stray dogs. One wonders if an endless task with all the strays here but her persistence prevails.
Diya Dangol. Fifteen year old Diya is my neighbour and determined daughter of my friend Sudha. She volunteers at many community events and was one of the first to lead the local children in activities whilst we camped outside during the earthquake. She is intelligent, confident and has many plans for her life and the betterment of her beloved country. We have many political debates and I call her a PM, as I am confident she will grow up to be the next Prime Minister.
Diya with her mum Sudha
Diya at work
Debbie Manandhar . I met Debbie at an outdoor festival. She and her friends who had performed really well in the cycle race, that took place during the day, asked if they could share my tent that evening. Coincidentally, Mina, my colleague at the Ministry, who used to be a teacher, recognised Debbie as I chuckled at one of Debbies’ amusing facebook militant posts. Debbie was as one of Mina’s students and recalled her having lots of potential. So apart from working for the National Blood Service here, Debbie volunteers with a youth organisation that helped deliver relief goods during last year’s floods and this year’s earthquake and still continues to do amazing work. She is also a pedal power champion, getting especially girls and even me to get on our bike. I promise I will attend a Kathmandu Critical Mass Debbie!
Debbie at the festival cycle race
Credit: Critical Mass Kathmandu