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Volunteer in Nepal

Volunteer in Nepal with KEEP

Promoting a Sustainable Future

The tiny mountain kingdom of Nepal has always fascinated, enchanted, and amazed tourists and trekkers. However, in this increasingly environmentally destructive modern world, the rooftop nation is becoming more and more in need of volunteers to help reduce negative tourism impact and promote a sustainable, viable, eco-friendly future.

The Kathmandu Environmental Education Project (KEEP) is one of the many NGOs working toward implementing permanent, positive change on the Nepali landscape and mind frame. Based in Kathmandu, the project aims to encourage eco-friendly trekking, minimize human impact, and empower the Nepali people to work with their environment, and protect the beauty and diversity of the fragile Himalayan Kingdom.

There are many capacities within which volunteers can support KEEP and Nepali locals, including:

 Joining restoration, building, or clean-up campaigns in local villages. This includes constructing or improving local schools and environmental restoration work.

 Teaching a variety of English courses aimed at empowering locals. Courses include basic English, trekking English, and English for taxi drivers and other tourism workers.

 Teaching first aid and conservation management skills to workers within the trekking profession.

 Providing assistance within the Kathmandu office.

While it is useful to contact KEEP prior to arriving (in order to coincide with organized volunteer programs), it is also possible to simply turn up at the office. Backpacking through Nepal, I dropped by the office a week before a scheduled Trekking English course began in a small, rural village. My partner and I signed up to teach, and by the end of the week we had traveled seven hours by bus and two hours by foot over some of the most stunning mountain scenery this side of the Himalaya to a tiny village at the foot of Langtang National Park.

We taught an intensive English course aimed at improving the trekking English of the village’s porters, thereby increasing both their hiring capacity and chances of advancing their positions from porters to guides. For many rural Nepalis, trekking provides their main source of income. The standard routine sees the males heading off for the trekking season and returning with their wages to support their families during the off-season. Many locals have little quality education and their poor or non-existent English drastically reduces their chances of being hired and of advancing to higher paid positions.

Over the 2-week course I was delighted to see an obvious improvement in my students’ abilities; in turn, we learned much about their culture and lifestyle. We lived in very basic conditions with a local family and paid a small sum to cover our food costs. Being warmly embraced and incorporated in everyday life was the most amazing way to experience and understand this vastly different, wonderful culture and society. It also felt good knowing that we were helping improve the lives of a people with a genuine desire and need to learn and to better themselves.

A lot has been said about the dangers of the Maoist situation in Nepal. From my experience, you are more at risk of being run over by a rickshaw than terrorized by Maoists. The political situation seems to have somewhat stabilized in the end of 2006 with a strong U.N. presence pushing for disarmament and peace talks between the military and the Maoists. For a country so unequivocally dependent on tourism to keep its poor economy from plunging any lower, travel warnings and the like are extremely devastating. All parties in Nepal understand the importance of the tourist trade and no one wants to jeopardize it. I felt as safe on the streets and roads of Nepal as I have anywhere else in this great world.

For More Info

KEEP Nepal maintains a website at www.keepnepal.org. Or, send an e-mail to volunteer@keepnepal.org.nep.

If in Nepal,adrop by the main Kathmandu office, behind Kilroy’s, Jyatha, near Tridevi Marg. Another good group that incorporates volunteers into short-term social activities with Nepali children is Social Trek (info@socialtrek.com).

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