If you are thinking about volunteering with Helambu Project, please read this file carefully. It will
answer some of your questions and prepare you for this experience. It will also help you to avoid
misunderstandings and problems. If you still have questions after reading this file, please email them
to us at email@example.com.
1. How can I get involved?
We work in Helambu region of Nepal. We concentrate on healthcare and education access in the
area. We organize health camps and cooperate with few schools in the area. Depending on your
skills and experience, there are few options. You can teach our students English, arts or sports,
which is what most of our volunteers do. You can help us develop an organic farm. As for medical
volunteers, there are four categories, depending on your experience, skills and interests:
1. senior/experienced nurses and doctors - undertake and consult independently at
2. nurses - assist at Health Camps, give injections, arrange medicine, education,
3. first aiders, first responders - teach first aid, teach re minor illness/injuries e.g.
wound management, trauma,
4. lay people or those with an interest in medicine - shadow at health camps, involve
themselves in education.
If you are interested in becoming a medical volunteer, please send you CV to
firstname.lastname@example.org and we can talk about your involvement in Helambu Project.
2. What are we looking for in volunteer candidates?
It's great if our volunteers have some experience in teaching or farming, although we did have some
volunteers who didn't, but their English was very good and they were willing to teach. We do
however expect our volunteers to be self-reliant and independent. We are not a huge organization
and there will not always be a guide or a carer so they must be able to stay with a host family who
doesn't speak English, organize their time, adapt to changes and new circumstances and not feel
lonely when they can't email their friends and family for few weeks or months. For these reasons we
prefer them to be older than 19 y.o. If you read our volunteers' testimonies
(http://www.vec.org.np/get-involved/volunteer/testimonies/), you will get an idea.
3. How much does it cost?
We charge 10,000 NPR (about USD 150) processing fee if you go for more than a month, and 7,500
NPR if you go for less. It is paid after your arrival to Nepal to our in country Field Coordinator. Our
volunteers stay in the village with a local family and it costs NPR 250 (about USD 3) a day for food
and accommodation. The accommodation fee is paid directly to your host family in the village on a
weekly basis. We also encourage our volunteers to organize fundraisers prior to coming to Nepal.
We understand that every volunteer has a different capacity to give to our project and we would
hate it if a volunteer wasn't able to come because of the 10,000 NPR volunteering fee. Hence, we
have established a policy where volunteers can conduct fundraisers. The money can go towards your
volunteers fees and any extra will go directly into our programs. One of the biggest obstacles to
implementing programs like the organic farming scheme are the start-up costs involved. We would
love it if you could help us to raise money for the projects you will be working on. If you don't have
time to do that - we understand, it's just an idea to think about.
4. What is the application procedure?
After reading all the information, you send us the following:
filled out volunteer agreement,
a CV (if you didn't include your experience in the agreement),
your passport scan.
When you get a confirmation from us, you send us:
your flight details: date, time, flight number, date of your flight back,
answers to following questions:
◦ Do you want us to book a hotel for you in Kathmandu?
◦ Do you prefer to go straight to the village the morning after your arrival, or stay in
Kathmandu for a few days to acclimatize?
◦ Do you need any help during your stay in Kathmandu?
5. When is the best time to come?
Any time between September and May is a good time to come. During the winter it's a little cold
(bring a good sleeping bag) but it doesn't rain and it's sunny. The day temperatures are about 10-
20 degrees Celsius, at night it gets a little below zero. The monsoon season starts about May-June
and lasts until September. It rains a lot, but the temperatures are higher, about 20 degrees during
the day and 5-10 during the night. Our schools still operate, so if you want to come during summer
time, you are welcome to do so.
6. How should I prepare myself?
Two important things to remember are insurance and vaccinations. As for vaccinations, check which
ones you should get and make sure you have them. Also, make sure you are insured. Some of our
villages lie at 2,200 meters above sea level – remember about it when you look for the best option
for you. Nothing has ever happened to any of our volunteers in the field, but you will be trekking
and you don't want to pay a lot in case something happens.
You should also prepare yourself for living in a village where there is no electricity, the toilet booth
is outside, the facilities and connectivity with the outside world is limited (you might not be able to
hear from your parents every week), etc.
7. How do I get my visa?
Here is a website of Immigration Office: http://immi.gov.np. Our volunteers just get a tourist visa
in the airport when they fly in. You need 2 passport photos and certain amount for a three months
tourist visa (please check on Immigration Office website for up to date information on the price).
You can extend it while you're here to maximum 5 months in a year.
8. What should I bring?
Sleeping bag (light weight is fine)
Medicine for yourself (anything you take normally or might want, there is no pharmacy in the
village or anywhere near)
Epi-pen (if you have allergies)
Head lamp / flashlight (you can get it easily in Kathmandu)
Water bottle (also available in Kathmandu)
Steripen or some other water purification method (you can get pills and drops in Kathmandu)
Rain coat & pack cover
3 sets of clothes that will easily dry (stuff that you're comfortable in. It's not appropriate to
wear short skirts, tank tops and other revealing clothes in Nepal)
Sunscreen / sun hat
Sturdy boots or footwear that will not break - preferably water resistant / proof
A book, there is no TV or internet in the village
For outdoor workers: garden gloves, waterproof boots, galoshes, or sandals
Please try and bring organic hygiene and sanitation products. Any wrappers or plastic stuff should
be removed and left in Kathmandu. Please try and pack snacks and other stuff with as little plastic
We recommend that your packs be under 15 kg. The lighter they are the easier time you will have -
we will not always be able to have porters that whole way. If you need a porter, let us know in
advance so we can arrange it.
Please feel free to bring school supplies or donations for the school. Crayons, pens, pencils, kids'
books, small art supplies are all great. They mean a lot to the kids.
DO NOT bring your laptop or other equipment – you will not be able to charge it.
9. What else should I know?
We strongly recommend reading something about Nepali culture prior to coming here. It is
important to respect the culture when you are a guest. Here are few basics that you should keep in
Do not reject food you were offered – have a little bit (unless you are allergic or vegetarian).
If you are a man, do not touch women (hugs, embraces etc). If you are a woman, and a man
touches you, you can tell them it is not ok. If you are a couple, do not display affection in
public, especially in the village.
Do not wear revealing clothes.
Remove your shoes before entering a home.
Be careful what you sit on – usually you will be sitting on the floor with your host family, but
if you sit on a bench, make sure it's not a puja bench, because you shouldn't sit on it. Also
outside, make sure the “pile of stones” you sit on is not a shrine (it will have something
inside under the stones) or hang your laundry over it.
When you stay with a local family, it is polite to offer your help with making the tea, doing
the dishes or other simple house chores.
10. How do I get to the village?
When you know your flight details, send them to us (date, time, flight number). Our Field
Coordinator picks you up from the airport, they will have a paper with your name on it. We can
book a hotel for you if you want (which would be about 300-400 Nepali rupee a night - about 5
Buses leave Kathmandu everyday at 7 so you would take a bus with a guide arranged by us the
following day. After the 8 hours long bus ride you will walk the rest of the way, depending on which
location you are going to. During the dry season it can be about 1-6 hours walk. During the
monsoon season (May to September) we can't tell you how long exactly it will be, because the bus
road is not passable all the way so depending on how far the bus can go, the hike will be about 6-10
hours. You might also spend one night in another village on the way (if the hike is long). This all will
be taken care of by the guide who will be with you.
Also, if you want to stay in Kathmandu to acclimatize and do some sightseeing, you can do that and
we'll book a bus ticket for you for a later date.
11. Where will I stay?
Our volunteers stay with a local family and pay them NPR 250 (about USD 3) a day for food and
accommodation. If you come with a group up to 6 people, you can stay with one family. Bigger
groups will probably get placements with other families. If you are coming alone, there might be
other volunteers staying with the same family, or you might be the only one. Either way, you have
to realize that there is not a lot of privacy in the Western sense in the village. It is not a hotel but a
family stay and interacting with the family on a day-to-day basis is a part of the experience.
In the house usually there is one room where volunteers sleep. There are few beds and if there are
more volunteers, they sleep on mats on the floor (Either way, bring a sleeping bag.) Usually you will
not spend a lot of time there. The main room of the house has fire and that's where people spend
their time, cook and eat.
12. What will I eat?
You will eat a lot of traditional Nepali dish called dal bhat. It's cooked rice with veg curry and lentil
soup. It's delicious. You will also probably eat momos (dumplings). For breakfast you might eat
tsampa: barley flour with tea or hot water. Sounds weird, but it's really good in the morning and
gives you a lot of energy for the day.
You will be offered sugar tea, milk tea or Sherpa butter tea. If you don't like any of that, there is
always hot water. Please keep in mind that you are not staying in a hotel, do not request coffee or
other drinks if they were not offered to you. Do not complain about food – it is impolite.
13. How can I keep in contact with my family while I'm in the village?
For emergencies your family can contact us at email@example.com and we will be able to
get word through to you with whatever it is that needs to be communicated.
However, for many reasons it's not really possible for parents to call just to check up on things. If
there is a real emergency it will actually get to us faster through firstname.lastname@example.org
email because our Field Coordinator will contact someone in the village. We have used the system
in the past and it worked well.
You should know and let your family know that you will be out of contact for your stay in the village
and that your parents / family / friends will not be hearing from you. This does not mean anything is
wrong, it actually means things are fine. Parents will only hear from us if there is something wrong.
14. What does a typical day at the village look like?
You get up and have some breakfast with your host family, you go to school at 8 (the school can be
very close, or about 25 min walk from where you will be staying), you have English / art / sports
classes, or basic health care training (or whatever your program will be). The lunch at school is at
12. After lunch the children have more classes until 2.30. After school you can also spend time at
the school with the students, help them do their homework, play with them etc. You will probably go
to bed early, as the whole village goes to bed early. The students have classes Sunday to Friday.
15. I'm a vegetarian / vegan / allergic.
As for being a vegetarian or vegan: usually schools have vegetarian meals and it's actually never a
problem in Nepal. If you don't use milk, you can tell the kitchen staff at the school and they will
give you black tea instead of milk tea. You will also be offered butter tea, which you might grow to
like. If you are allergic, let us know beforehand. If you're allergic to smoke, we'll make sure your
host family has chimneys and the house is not smoky.
16. I'm concerned about safety in Nepal.
The region where we work is safe. All of our staff and volunteers take public buses to get to our
village. In Kathmandu, if only you are reasonable, it's safe, too. Sometimes there are strikes when
everything is closed and cars are not allowed on the streets, but it doesn't really affect us so much.
Some people have concerns about road safety. The buses do have many people on them and people
ride on the top of bus often (people who didn't get their tickets in advance, so it never happens to
our volunteers). We cannot guarantee your safety in anything you do here, but neither can anyone
give you that guarantee in your country. It's important to have an insurance that will cover your
stay in Nepal.
As for health issues, there are few things that are important to remember:
◦ Do not drink tap water. Boil it first or use water purification.
◦ Wash your hands often.
◦ If you get sick – don't panic. A lot of people get stomach problems when they first get to
Asia. Remember to keep yourself hydrated.
We hope this answers your questions and are looking forward to hear from you.