Nepal

Main Features

  • Volunteer camps and host families option
  • PreDeparture workshop included
  • Orientation workshop in Kathmandu
  • 24/7 local support
  • EIL Emergency support
  • Accomodation: Host Family or Volunteer House
  • Projects: Teaching, Welfare, Environment
  • From 4 to 24 weeks
  • Personal Debriefing
  • Group Debrieifng Workshop
  • Eligible for Global Citizen Award
Student in Kathmandu

The Himalayan kingdom of Nepal is renowned for its breathtaking scenery, its rich cultural heritage and its friendly people. A small country wedged between India and China, it contains 8 of the world’s 10 highest peaks, including Mount Everest. It is the world’s only official Hindu state and is dotted with both Hindu and Buddhist temples and sites of pilgrimage.

With most of its population relying on small-scale agriculture, Nepal is also a country facing significant development challenges. Nepal’s capital of Kathmandu, with a fast-growing population of around 1.7m,  is easily the country’s biggest and most cosmopolitan city: a melting pot of a dozen ethnic groups, and home town of the Newars – master craftsmen and traders. Nepal has a reputation for being the ultimate destination for the adventurous. There’s always some risk attached, but the country has the biggest, most exciting mountains in the world coupled with the most wonderful culture. It’s the best trekking on earth!

Volunteers work in a range of projects with local people but are not involved in aid work related to the devestating earthquake in April 2015. Participants experience the traditional way of life, the culture and the beauty of Nepal, while engaging in an exchange of ideas and work practices in the poorest communities.

There are many interesting projects available in the categories listed below. The projects given here are an example of the projects in each category. Our goal is to match the skills and expectations of the participants with the needs of the local projects. Our volunteer coordinator in the field will suggest a project for you once they have your application. They are well placed to match your skills and interests to the right placements.

Projects for Option 1 (Volunteer Camp) and 2 (Individual programme)

(Please note that volunteers choosing Option 1 may assist on two projects per week).

Nessa McLoughlin in Nepal
Nessa McLoughlin in Nepal
Nessa McLoughlinCo GalwayNepal

Women Empowerment

A variety of educational and confidence building activities are organised for the benefit of adolescent girls and women in the local community. These activities are geared towards giving the women greater opportunities and encouraging empowerment.

Activities can range from teaching English,, developing conversational skills, creative workshops on health or specific skill-sharing. Volunteers are expected to be creative and adaptable in their approach. 

Teaching and Education

The ability to speak English provides a major boost to Nepalese children in terms of their future career opportunities. Volunteers are required to teach basic English to elementary school children. Most schools follow a fixed English curriculum, and volunteers teach in collaboration with local English teachers. You will be teaching for 2-3 hours a day, 6 days a week. Other tasks include helping out in organising games, painting and other activities. Many past volunteers have also organised informal English classes in local villages.

Dhaddghari Lower Secondary School is located 157km south-west of Kathmandu Valley in the province of Chitwan. There are 7 regular teaching staff and approximately 300 students aged between 5 and 13. Volunteers are required to teach English to the children and to assist in recreational and extra-curricular activities.

Environment

(Option 2 only)

Deforestation has become a serious problem in Nepal due to the overuse of wood for fuel. Several small, village-based nurseries have been set up to combat this. Work is physically demanding, involving tasks such as seed collection, sowing, mulching, watering and weeding, but can prove extremely rewarding to the energetic volunteer.

The Tree Species Nursery volunteers are placed in a village-based project in Chitwan which produces seedlings to distribute to local schools, commentates and villagers for planting in community fields. The work is varies from seed sowing and weeding to fencing and bed preparation.

Option 1: Volunteer camp in Kathmandu

The model of our Indian Volunteer Program has proved successful for many years, so we have taken it and applied the same principles in Nepal: participants live together within a group of international volunteers and work with the local community for improving the quality of education and care in daycare centers, special institutions and regular schools, while our local staff provide them with support all throughout their stay.

Arrival & Orientation

Participants are collected at Kathmandu airport and are transferred to acommodation in Kathmandu. Volunteers are given 4 days of cultural orientation with meals included and start volunteering the second week of their stay.

Start dates

Start dates are available all throughout the year. Contact us for more details.

Accommodation 

Accommodation is at a volunteer house based on 4 persons sharing a room.

Optional recreational activities (Option 1 only).

The following excursions will be available while over in Kathmandu and can be applied for during the application process.

Excursion to Pokhara - Saturday departure & Sunday return

Excursion to Chitwan - Saturday departure & Sunday return

Option 2: Individual programme with homestay

Arrival & Orientation

Participants are collected from the airport in Kathmandu and brought to their accommodation in Kathmandu for a one-week language and cultural programme.

The basic aim of the language and culture programme is provide volunteers with some basic Nepalese and to familiarise them with the culture and religion of Nepal. It will include:

  • 4-5 hours a day language classes, followed by free time to explore Kathmandu.
  • A guided tour of Kathmandu valley to visit important cultural and religious sites
  • Lectures from visiting professors on topics such as religion, culture and history

Accommodation (Option 2)

Accommodation will be with an approved home-stay family, with three meals a day. You should not expect luxurious accommodation; however you will be provided with your own room and most homes have electricity. The host families are mostly educated, well-respected in society, and experienced with international students. Some members of the host family may speak English.

Optional recreational activities (Option 2 only)

Participants will have the opportunity to join in a range of exciting recreational activities during their stay. You can book and pay for these activities while in Nepal. These include:

  • White-water Rafting: A full afternoon of white-water rafting on the Trishuli river will be organised. An experienced guide will take you along a beautiful route between the villages of Charudi and Bhorle. (Cost: $100 approx.)
  • Jungle Safari: A 3-day visit to the Royal Chitwan National Park will be arranged, including a jungle safari, elephant riding, canoeing and cultural dance. (Cost: $50 approx)
  • Trekking Tour: At the end of your placement, you have the opportunity to join a week-long guided trek in Annpuruna. The trek passes from village to village through lush valleys with spectacular mountain views. Accommodation will be provided in tea-houses on route. (cost: depends on the season)

Start dates (Option 2 only)

Programmes start on the 2nd and 4th Monday of each month. Please contact us for more information.

Visas

Tourist visas can be obtained in advance or on arrival in Nepal, but it is recommended you contact the Nepalese consulate to confirm you will get a visa at the airport. A single-entry visa for 60 days costs approximately US$30. Volunteers who wish to stay for more than 60 days in Nepal can extend their tourist visa by paying US$50 to the Department of Immigration in Kathmandu.

The EIL Development Education Network

Our volunteers work and live alongside local people in local communities in some of the most deprived areas in the world. It is in response to their experiences that the EIL development education programme was set up. On their return to Ireland we ask our volunteers to be the voice for the stories of the people they worked with and to highlight their experience of poverty and inequality. Then together we campaign to make a difference by promoting global justice, human rights, fair trade, debt relief and greater equality and respect among the peoples of the world. Our goal is to see global justice and equality reach the top of the Irish agenda.

The Application Process

Applying for the Volunteer Abroad programme is a straight forward process: after receiving your application and CV we will contact you to find out more about your interests and motivation for wanting to be a volunteer. We then send your information to our colleagues in the country of your choice and they make your placement. As soon as they confirm a suitable placement for you, we will send you all the information necessary to finalise your preparations. Although some countries can accept late applications, you should send your completed application 12 weeks in advance. The earlier you apply, the more time we have to find the most suitable project for you.

What you need to do:

  • Complete the application form and send it to us together with 2 recent passport photos, €350 deposit, and recent CV.
  • Do a telephone interview (or in person if you live in Cork and/or want to call in).
  • A confirmation letter of enrolment will then be sent within 10 working days.

If you prefer we can send you the application form by post.

For more information about applying to volunteer with EIL please see How do I apply? or contact Cliona.

We guarantee no hidden costs.

We encourage you to compare our costs with other organisations  and a careful comparison of what is included and what is not included is always advisable.

Option 1: Volunteer camp in Kathmandu

What Is Included

  • Pre-departure information and preparation workshop
  • Airport pick-up and return transfer
  • All meals and accommodation
  • In-country orientation
  • In-country support by local staff
  • Material required for volunteer work
  • Debrief workshop on return to Ireland
  • Invitation to join the EIL Development Education Network

What Is Not Included

  • Cost of flights
  • Cost of visa extension
  • Medical, liability and travel insurance (available for €10 per week)
  • Return/onward transportation at the end of volunteer placement
  • Personal expenses

Prices

  • 3 weeks: € 1,299

  • 4 weeks: €1,399

  • 6 weeks: €1,699

  • 8 weeks: €1,949

  • 10 weeks: €2,199

  • 12 weeks: €2,399

An extra costs of €250 applies for the Volunteer & Travel Programme (2 excursions).

 

Medical, liability and travel insurance available for €10 per week.

Prices are subject to change.

Visit our WHY PAY? and FUNDRAISING pages.

Option 2: Individual programme with homestay

What Is Included

  • Pre-departure information and preparation workshop
  • Airport pick-up and transfer on arrival
  • All costs of language programme (2 weeks) and cultural visits(first week)
  • All costs of village home-stay week(second week)
  • Transportation to project
  • Home-stay accommodation and food for duration of the programme
  • In-country support while on project
  • Contribution to local project
  • Debrief workshop on return to Ireland
  • Invitation to join the EIL Development Education Network

What Is Not Included

  • Cost of flights
  • Cost of visa extension
  • Medical, liability and travel insurance (available for €10 per week)
  • Return/onward transportation at the end of volunteer placement
  • Personal expenses

Costs

  • 4 weeks: €1,599
  • 6 weeks: €1,799
  • 8 weeks: €1,949
  • 10 weeks: €2,109
  • 12 weeks: €2,249

Extra activities (Jungle safari rafting, trekking) can be booked while in Nepal.

Medical, liability and travel insurance available for €10 per week.

Prices are subject to change.

Visit our WHY PAY? and FUNDRAISING pages.

Protect the environment: EIL Carbon offset system

Compensate for the CO2 that your flight will generate by helping to plant trees in Guatemala.

Henna
It was 1am by the time I cleared visa and got my bags in Tribhuvan Airport. Tired and not a little apprehensive, I travelled in the tiny Suzuki Swift taxi through the maze-like streets of Kathmandu. As we drove down a lane-way not much wider than the car, the taxi driver stopped abruptly and said “Let’s go!” With no street lighting we stumbled down the unpaved road with the light of the taxi driver’s phone showing the way. Everyone was asleep when I arrived at the volunteer house but I was kept awake with the barking of what seemed like hundreds of stray dogs outside.... ...A month later and...
Nepal Volunteer
Once I retired I made the decision to volunteer abroad, I wanted to challenge myself and have an adventure of my own. It was important to me to have the experience of really living as part of a community and so the host family living experience was perfect for me. I didn’t want to just feel like a visitor, I wanted to get a sense of what it was like to be part of the community. I decided to go to Nepal for a number of reasons. I knew that the landscape and scenery in Nepal would be dramatic, interesting and beautiful and I wanted to see that for myself. I also had heard from friends that the...
Nepal Volunteer
Anne Doran, retired nurse from Co. Clare who volunteered in Rural Nepal Education and Social Care Projects in Nepal In the rural location I was based in during my volunteer programme in Nepal I worked in two projects. My main project where I spent most of my time was a residential care home for children who had lost their families during the 10 year civil war in Nepal that ended in 2003. My second project where I sometimes helped out in the afternoons was the local school that operated on limited resources. It was a pleasure to help out on both projects. I have 2 key pieces of advice for...
Carole Murphy
A weekly blog I'd assured friends and family when I departed Ireland for Nepal. Now having entered my fifth week, this is just my second entry. Surely testament to the busy but brilliant last number of weeks of volunteering... I am assigned to two projects. In the mornings, I teach basic english to Nepalese women. They attend when they have their morning chores completed and children organised for school.. The focus of the ninety minute classes are the alphabet, phonics and numbers. My class can have anything from three to ten students. I am always greeted with an enthusiastic 'namaste miss...
My first week done...It is so hard to believe..A week of so many new experiences... food, people, work, travel, exploration. So much has happened since I stepped off that plane last Monday..everyone of my five senses have been bombarded. No conversation, no website, no travel book, no workshop will fully prepare you for what Nepal has to offer. It is a world away from what we know in so ways. The first week is designed to introduce you to Nepalese culture. It gives you the opportunity to experience project locations, provides Nepalese tutorial classes, Nepalese dance classes, henna and sari...
To conclude my series of blogs on life in Nepal, I think it’s only just to present an (honest) evaluation. Five weeks marauding the slopes and bypassing rabid beasts have afforded me the necessary insight. Many questions abound, however, including the comparison of life in Ireland and Nepal. Rolling green pastures versus steep ascents? Prátaí versus dal bhaat? Massey Fergusons versus manic mopeds? Even the volume of rain is an urgent matter of consideration. Unfortunately, due to limitations of concentration and space, I’ll stick to what is deemed ‘useful’. A ‘useful’ evaluation so it be...
So for the last 6 weeks I’ve had the pleasure of calling Kathmandu, Nepal, my home. People keep asking me why I picked Nepal and to be honest, Nepal was a place I never heard much about and I wanted to discover a bit of an obscure place. My average day consists of getting up at 7am, having breakfast and heading to my morning project. In the morning I work at an elderly home in Pashupatinath. My initial impression was one of shock, the conditions that the residents live in are very basic to say the least but once I started working I soon found the work very rewarding. Our main job at the...
Message from Tom... Nearly finished my first month in Kathmandu. It has been the most exhausting, thrilling, and exciting month of my life. The volunteer house is like the big brother house with people coming and going, I've made such good friends here whom I really hope to say in touch with. The projects are simply amazing! I worked in a Government School for my first 3 weeks and this week I switched to the elderly home. At first I was very apprehensive, other volunteers had told me of the conditions but it has actually become my favourite project. The staff and residents are some of the...
Rage against the machine
Evenings here offer sickness, socializing and solace. Evenings here also happen to be my favourite time of the day. After indulging in the usual meal of dal bhat and dubious small talk*, we are released into an abundance of choice – from shopping in Thamel to becoming lost in the world of Bill Bryson. That is, of course, if we don’t choose to eat out and risk the onslaught of diarrhea and cantankerous stomachs. Things, which, according to the nostrils, happen quite regularly in the volunteer camp. Often, however, an event occurs which can overthrow the carefully planned endeavours of the camp...
I wake up at half past three. An army of dogs are barking outside, a few skins of sweat cover my body and worst of all, Tom is snoring. The other four guys in my room are also up, laughing as I curse, launch myself off of my bed and poke Tom into consciousness. Not only does he arise from his slumber, but he also manages to hurl a few unwarranted expletives in my direction. Welcome to Nepal! In fairness though, these different stimuli epitomize the Nepali environment. The most striking aspect of Kathmandu is the surrounding chaos; the wild, unorganized traffic, the abundance of street stalls...
ENCOUNTER work by Samantha Conlon Seed Fund winner Samantha Conlon will be launching her Photography Exhibition "Encounter" in Douglas Library, Cork. The opening will be 2pm - 4pm and promises to be a really interesting event with photos from her journey as an EIL Volunteer to Nepal in 2013. If you cant get down there for the opening the photographs will be displayed for a month. If have an great idea for sharing your passsion for development, apply for an EIL Seed Fund Grant. Thinking about Volunteering like Samantha? Talk to Cliona
“Travelling, leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller” (Battuta). This was a saying that was placed on one of the walls of our volunteer accommodation in Nepal. A saying that I can whole heartily agree with. Prior to my travels, my knowledge on Nepal was rather simplistic. After a Kathmandu day trip I learned a lot about Kathmandu and indeed Nepal. I got an insight to the government system which can only described as complex. It is evident that a power struggle gripped the country for several years with the main protagonist being the pro- democracy supporters and the Maoist...

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Even though Nepal has made considerable progress toward reducing poverty over the past years, it remains the poorest country in South Asia with wide discrepancies depending on geographic location, ethnicity, caste and gender. Not only infant mortality rates are a major concern, being among the highest in the region, also the high maternal mortality are alarming, resulting in a life expectancy for women which is considerably lower than for men. Gender disparities are also common when it comes to literacy: only 26% of Nepal's women are literate, compared to 62% of men. With this, inequality has risen to the highest level in South Asia and presents a major challenge to reverse.

 

In meeting these challenges, Nepal does have some significant assets: there is compelling evidence that the strength behind development in Nepal is highly concentrated at the community level, with impressive successes where local initiatives have been implemented. Hence, international volunteers that are getting involved in the projects Idex facilitates can be sure to make a difference and will have a unique, maybe even life-changing experience.

 

Moreover, Nepal has a lot to offer to the international traveler: surrounded by the great heights of the Himalaya, Nepal is a country of colorful cultures, ancient history, hospitable people, unique scenery and some of the best walking on earth. But trekking is not the only activity which draws visitors: exciting white-water rafting opportunities, mountain biking, and jungle-safaris on elephant-back in the Royal Chitwan National Park are further not-to-be-missed parts of the Nepal experience.

History

Pre 20th Century

Nepal's recorded history began with the Kiratis, who arrived in the 7th or 8th century BC from the east. Little is known about them, other than their skill as sheep farmers and their fondness for knives. It is generally assumed that they followed a mixture of Hindu and Tantric beliefs. During the same period, a new religion arrived in Nepal - Buddhism, created by Siddhartha Gautama, the historical Buddha and the prince of the kingdom of Kapilavastu, near Lumbini. By 200 AD, Buddhism was on the decline. The Licchavis invaded from northern India and overthrew the last Kirati king, re-imposing Hinduism and the caste system (which still continues today) and ushering in a golden age of Nepali art and architecture.

By 879, the Licchavi era had petered out and was succeeded by the Thakuri dynasty. A grim period of instability and invasion often referred to as the 'Dark Ages' followed, but Kathmandu Valley's strategic location ensured the kingdom's survival and growth. Several centuries later, the Thakuri king, Arideva, founded the Malla dynasty, kick-starting another renaissance of Nepali culture. Despite earthquakes, the odd invasion and feuding between the independent city-states of Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur, the dynasty flourished, reaching its zenith in the 15th century under Yaksha Malla.

The rulers of the western city-state of Gorkha had always coveted the Mallas' wealth and under the inspired leadership of Prithvi Narayan Shah the Gurkhas launched a campaign to conquer the Kathmandu Valley. In 1768 - after 27 years of fighting - they triumphed and moved their capital to Kathmandu. From this new base the kingdom's power expanded, borne by a seemingly unstoppable army, until progress was halted in 1792 by a brief and chastening war with Tibet. The courage of the Gurkhas under fire is legendary. Many fighting forces around the world still maintain Gurkha regiments, including the British Army.

Further hostilities followed in 1814, this time with the British. After years of skirmishes over the ownership of the Terai, The Nepali forces were eventually brought to heel and compelled to sign the 1816 Sugauli Treaty, which surrendered Sikkim and most of Terai, establishing Nepal's present eastern and western boundaries. Some of the land was eventually restored in return for Nepalese help in quelling the Indian Mutiny of 1857.

The Shah dynasty continued in power during the first half of the 19th century until the ghastly Kot Massacre of 1846. Taking advantage of the intrigue and assassinations that had plagued the ruling family, Jung Bahadur seized control by butchering several hundred of the most important men while they assembled in the Kot courtyard. He took the more prestigious title Rana, proclaimed himself prime minister for life, and later made the office hereditary. For the next century, the Ranas and their offspring luxuriated in huge Kathmandu palaces, while the remainder of the population eked out a living in medieval conditions. The borders of Nepal were sealed to foreigners until after WWII and the country receded into myth and legend.

Modern History

The Rana's antiquated regime came to an end soon after WWII. In 1948, the British withdrew from India, and with them went the Ranas' chief support. Around the same time, a host of insurrectional movements, bent on reshaping the country's polity, emerged. Sporadic fighting spilled onto the streets and the Ranas, at the behest of India, reluctantly agreed to negotiations. King Tribhuvan was anointed ruler in 1951 and struck up a government comprised of Ranas and members of the newly formed Nepali Congress Party. The borders were also finally re-opened - the first foreigner to enter Nepal in a century was the Swiss explorer Toni Hagen in 1951.

But the political harmony was shortlived. After toying with democratic elections - and feeling none too pleased by the result - King Mahendra (Tribhuvan's son and successor) decided that a 'partyless' panchayat system would be more appropriate for Nepal. The king selected the prime minister and cabinet and appointed a large proportion of the national assembly, which duly rubber-stamped his policies. Power, of course, remained with only one party - the king's.

Cronyism, corruption and the creaming-off of lucrative foreign aid into royal coffers continued until 1989. The Nepalis, fed up with years of hardship and suffering under a crippling trade embargo imposed by the Indians, rose up in popular protest called the Jana Andolan or 'People's Movement'. In the ensuing months, detention, torture and violent clashes left hundreds of people dead. It all proved too much for King Birendra, in power since 1972. He dissolved his cabinet, legalised political parties and invited the opposition to form an interim government. The panchayat system was finally laid to rest.

The changeover to democracy proceeded in an orderly, if leisurely, fashion, and in May 1991 the Nepali Congress Party and the Communist Party of Nepal shared most of the votes.

The peace and quiet was disrupted when the Communists became increasingly frustrated with power-sharing, leading to the creation of several radical Maoist splinter groups. Then, in June 2001, the unthinkable happened. King Birendra, worshipped by many as a living incarnation of Vishnu, was killed in a dreadful massacre, along with most of the royal family. The killer was though to be King Birendra's son, Crown Prince Dipendra, who died shortly afterwards, apparently from self-inflicted wounds. Shady Prince Gyanendra, the brother of King Birendra, ascended to the throne. Whether or not Gyanendra engineered the royal massacre to bring himself to power is still a popular topic of debate across Nepal.

The first few years of Gyanendra's rule were fairly uneventful, though he continued the tradition of royal disregard for the people of Nepal and their elected officials. Facing growing neglect from the central government, many Nepalis turned to Maoism, sowing the seeds for revolution. In 1996, the Maoist leader Prachanda (The Fierce One) launched a nationwide rebellion against the government and monarchy, leaving Nepal in a state of virtual civil war. Tens of thousands of people have since been killed in fighting between rebels and government forces.

Since then, Nepal has discovered that establishing a workable democratic system is an enormously difficult task - especially when it is the country's first such system. The situation has been further exacerbated by a wafer-thin economy, massive unemployment, illiteracy and an ethnically and religiously fragmented population that continues to grow at an alarming rate.

Recent History

Nepal's faltering steps towards democracy came to a sudden stop in 2002 when Gyanendra dissolved the government and appointed his own cabinet. Elections were postponed indefinitely and rebels used the political infighting as an opportunity to seize large parts of rural Nepal. One year later, in 2003, the appointed prime minister Lokendra Bahadur Chand also resigned, throwing the elected government into disarray. A ceasefire with the Maoists proved shortlived and when the king appointed another monarchist as prime minister, protesters took to the streets. That has largely been the pattern in Nepal ever since. Growing pro-democracy protests have been met by arrests of students and opposition politicians and Maoists have repeatedly blockaded all roads into and out of Kathmandu. The most recent ceasefire collapsed in January 2006 when a spate of rebel attacks on towns across Nepal killed hundreds. Nepal has effectively had no parliamentary democracy at all since February 2005, when the King declared a state of emergency. Since then hundreds of activists have been arbitrarily imprisoned and independent newspapers and radio stations have been closed down by government forces. Hemmed in by murderous rebels and a King who is increasingly a law unto himself, Nepalis are looking nervously towards the proposed general elections in 2007 to provide some resolution to the crisis.

Daily Life

Nepalese families are quite big. Normally there are grandparents, parents and children living under one roof and sharing the daily activities. As part of this community you should be open and try to help and involve yourself in tasks carried out at home. They are interested to show you their way of life. You could learn how to cook, to milk the buffalo or to work on the field (planting rice and vegetables). Additionally, you can support them by doing the dishes and cleaning your room. Sometimes you might just watch TV or play cards with the whole family.

Younger family members are especially interested to learn more about your family and culture. So, don't forget to bring some pictures and tell something about your life. Perhaps you even get the chance to cook and show how food is prepared in your country.

Most of the families have experience with volunteers and will give you all the necessary advice and support you need to feel comfortable. Some family members might speak English. In case you have any problems or you are not sure how to behave and what to do, feel free to ask them. Additionally, RCDP-Nepal members will visit you from time to time and you can address any problems to the office in Kathmandu by telephone or email.

Regarding moral values, religion and cultural issues Nepal can be very different from Ireland. Sometimes you might think roles are antiquated, but be careful not to judge their way of life, you are here to learn and to understand these people. Woman should be aware of the fact that their position in Nepalese society can't be compared to their position in western countries. Arranged marriages are normal and the role of women is confined to housewives and mothers. Nepalese people may have trouble understanding how you can travel alone, leaving your parents. Special roles for family life will apply regarding the religion (Buddhism and Hinduism). You will learn more about this and other aspects of the Nepalese culture during the orientation program at RCDP-Nepal at the beginning of your stay.

Religion

90% Hindu, 5% Buddhist, 3% Muslim, 2% other

Climate

Nepal has four distinct seasons. Spring from March to May, is warm with rain showers. Summer, from June to August, is the monsoon season. Autumn, from September to November, is cool with clear skies and is the most popular season for trekking. In winter, from December to February, it is cold at night, with fog in the early morning.
Because Nepal is quite far south in Latitude the weather is warmer and winter is much milder at lower elevations. The monsoon is determined by the Bay of Bengal. It is hot during the monsoon with rain almost everyday. During this season, trekking in most of Nepal is difficult and uncomfortable, the trails being muddy and infested with leeches. It usually does not rain for more that one or two days during the entire autumn and the winter season. In the winter, the mountains are covered with snow including some high hills. Mt. Everest itself is a huge black rock during the trekking season, which becomes snow-covered only during the winter.

Questions:

Is it safe?
Who volunteers?
Can I go with a friend or family member and can we be placed in the same project?
Is the deposit refundable?
Can I combine more than one country?
How long can I go for?
When can I go?
How much does it cost?
What’s the difference between EIL’s volunteer abroad programme and others?
Why aren’t volunteers paid/given expenses?
Why do volunteers have to pay for their programme?
I would like to participate in the programme but I didn’t realise how much it would be or simply can’t afford it.
How do I apply?
When should I apply?
Can I come in to discuss options?
What visa do I need?
What vaccinations should I get?
What are the age limits?
Do I need any special skills/qualifications?
Can I work on a specific project?
I already have a good language skills – can I drop/reduce the language course?
What is the accommodation like?
Will there be other volunteers going at the same time as me?
What does the optional insurance cover?
Can I apply from northern Ireland/UK/outside Ireland?

Answers

  • Is it safe?

    We only place volunteers in locations where it is safe to do so. Traveling to a developing country can be challenging, but most people travel without encountering trouble. Volunteers are briefed on safety issues during the predeparture workshop and during the orientation in-country.

    EIL only places volunteers in countries where we have a sister office with coordinators embedded in local communities who can provide participants with grassroots support and monitor and react to safety issues on the ground. Staff members in the field have years of experience in supporting international volunteers and in assessing and mitigating risks. A 24-hour/7-day emergency support system is in place to handle any urgent situations or crises. EIL has also developed a thorough set of policies, procedures and guidelines related to Child Protection, Risk Assessment and Crisis Management, Equality and Inclusiveness. This ensures that every participant is having a safe volunteer experience.

    It is advised to check government travel advice for your destination. Check the websites of the Irish Dept. of Foreign Affairs and theUK Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Also read the safety information that we send you and of course exercise caution in any country.

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  • Who volunteers?

    EIL volunteers come from a range of different backgrounds. Our volunteers are:

    • Students and young people willing to volunteer abroad during their holidays, between jobs or on a year out.
    • Office workers, teachers, farmers, nurses, engineers, factory workers, waiters and just about anybody wishing to help, take some time out or just looking for a different experience during their holidays.
    • Retired people who want to put their time and skills to good use.
    • Apprentices and students who need to complete an internship or work experience.
    • Youth clubs, family groups, clubs, school groups or groups of friends.

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  • Can I go with a friend or family member and can we be placed in the same project?

    It is possible to apply with one or several friends, family members or a partner and to be placed in the same accommodation and project.

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  • Is the deposit refundable?

    The vast majority of the applicants are accepted in the programme but if your application is not successful, we will refund your deposit. Otherwise, the deposit is not refundable.

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  • Can I combine more than one country?

    It depends on the combination of countries. As we are dealing with two different programmes you will have two different programme fees. We may be able to look at a reduction of our administration fees but this is a small part of the fee. In the case of Latin American countries you may be able to do the language course in one of the countries thus reducing the fees in the other country. This will depend on our office in country and we need to make arrangements with them to do this.

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  • How long can I go for?

    Programme lengths vary from minimum 2 weeks to 11 months, depending on which country you choose. 2/3 weeks programmes are available in Guatemala, Thailand and Vietnam. Though if you choose to go for such a short period it is important to have realistic expectation as regard as what you can achieve.

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  • When can I go?

    You can join most of our programmes any time of year but you must ensure you attend a pre-departure workshop with EIL first. Attendance is mandatory in order to volunteer with EIL. Many of our programmes overseas have flexible start dates. We have set start dates in South Africa, Nepal, Nigeria, India, Morocco, Vietnam and Thailand but they have at least one every month. If you are looking for a teaching placement we need to check the term times in that country.

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  • Will there be other volunteers going at the same time as me?

    If this is a priority for you to be placed with other volunteers we will indicate you the programmes where you are very likely to be with other volunteers. If there are volunteers going to the same destination at the same time we will put you in touch via e-mail so you can become acquainted. There may well be other international volunteers from other countries working with you. However, be prepared that you may be the only international volunteer there. This is a greater opportunity to immerse yourself in the culture and get to know local people if you are not relying on other volunteers. Be prepared that you may feel isolated or lonely sometimes. Accommodation in volunteer house and volunteer camps (with other international volunteers) are available in Thailand, Vietnam and India.

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  • How much does it cost?

    The programme fee varies depending on which country you choose and the length of programme. All the programme fees and what is included are on our website and in our country specific information sheets. To give an idea, programme fees start at €785. If the full length of language course isn’t needed, we maybe able reduce the programme fee. Our fees do not include flights, visas, vaccinations, medical and travel insurance, and personal expenses.

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  • What’s the difference between EIL’s volunteer abroad programme and others?

    • EIL is an established Irish not for profit intercultural learning organistion
    • We work with sister organisations who are members of the EIL worldwide network.
    • We will thoroughly analyse your profile, needs and expectation and match it with the most suitable volunteer programme
    • Our programme are flexible: placements are available in 15 couintries, from 2 weeks to 11 months with start dates year-round and a wide range of project is available
    • Volunteers are placed in local projects supporting local initiatives
    • We offer an authentic cultural experience including a full cultural orientation and most programmes include stay with host family.
    • Safety is the first priority: our volunteers have 24-hour support in country from our National office, the local co-coordinator as well as mentors on the project.
    • Our programmes fees are very competitive and cover accommodation, meals, transfers, support - with some exceptions.

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  • Why aren’t volunteers paid/given expenses?

    We place volunteers in local partner organisations in developing countries. These organisations need volunteers because they can't afford enough paid staff and are not in the position to offer expenses/pay volunteers. EIL and the partner organisations we work with are not for profit making organisations and depend on the support of volunteers. Please see Why pay? for more information.

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  • Why do volunteers have to pay for their programme?

    EIL and our in-country partner organisations are non-profit making organisations. The programme fee covers the cost of placing a volunteer in the project, to provide accommodation, meals, transfer and transport, pre-departure & in-country support and insurance. The projects volunteers are sent to in developing countries cannot afford to cover these costs themselves. Please see Why pay? for more information. Many volunteers cover some of the costs by raising funds. Fundraising support is available and we will send you a fundraising pack.

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  • I would like to participate in the programme but I didn’t realise how much it would be or simply can’t afford it.

    We recognise that some of our participants are students and affording the programme fee is an issue. Many volunteers cover some of the costs by raising funds. Fundraising information and advice is available. We also have a number of travel awards and scholarships available every year. Keep an eye on our website for these awards.

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  • How do I apply?

    Applying for the Volunteer Abroad programme is a straight forward process: after receiving your application and CV we will contact you to find out more about your interests and motivation for wanting to be a volunteer and to confirm the date of your pre-departure workshop. We then send your information to our colleagues in the country of your choice and they make your placement. As soon as they confirm a suitable placement for you, we will send you all the information necessary to finalise your preparations. We can accept volunteers up to 8 weeks before their programme start date as long as they can attend a pre-departure workshop. The earlier you apply, the more time we have to find the most suitable project for you.

    What you need to do:

    • Complete the application form ( Word / PDF ) and send it to us together with 1 recent passport photo, €350 deposit, a copy of your passport and recent CV.
    • Do a telephone interview (or in person if you live in Cork and/or want to call in).
    • A confirmation letter of enrolment will then be sent within 10 working days.

    If you prefer we can send you the application form by post.

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  • When should I apply?

    Ideally, you should apply about 12 weeks in advance of your proposed start date. Later applications can be accepted no less than 8 weeks prior to your intended date of departure but please bear in mind that attendance at a pre-departure workshop before you go is mandatory. The earlier you apply, the more time we have to find the most suitable project for you. You will also need time to sort out your flights, visas and vaccinations. If you plan on fundraising for your place, please note that the balance of your fees are typically due 6-8 weeks before you travel.

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  • Can I come in to discuss options?

    You can discuss options over the phone or if you live locally you are welcome to come in. Before you take the trouble to visit us at our offices, we recommend thinking about where you would like to go, what placement you are interested in, when you want to go, how long you want to go for and why you want to volunteer. Call to make appointment.

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  • What visa do I need?

    The type of visa will depend on where you are going and for how long. Visa information is available on our website and on the info sheets we can post you. However you are responsible for your visa and you should contact the Irish Embassy or Consulate for the destination country in good time prior to departure for the requirements and application procedures.

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  • What vaccinations should I get?

    For legal reasons we cannot give advice on this. Please contact your doctor or the Tropical Medical Bureau.

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  • What are the age limits?

    You have to be over 18 for most programmes. If you are on the younger than 18 and would like to volunteer abroad with a group of friends or students, please contact us to discuss the options. There is no upper limit.

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  • Do I need any special skills/qualifications?

    No. We are looking for people who are independent minded travelers. Living in a developing country demands flexibility, initiative, maturity and drive. Of course if you have particular skills and experience that you would like to use then we will take this into consideration when finding a suitable placement. Please see Is this for me?

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  • Can I work on a specific project?

    You can indicate the type of project that you would like to work on and if you have a particular example in mind from our website then you can indicate it. This is not guaranteed. Our partner organisations will suggest a placement for you. They are well placed to match your skills and interests to the right placements.

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  • I already have a good language skills – can I drop/reduce the language course?

    Sometimes this is possible – we would have to know what level you are at and check this with the national office in-country first.

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  • What is the accommodation like?

    It will depend on the country and project, either with a host family, in a volunteer house / camp or with an independent room at the project site. It may be basic compared to the standards you are used to here. We will provide details of the family or accommodation you will be staying in before you leave.

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  • What does the optional insurance cover?

    Basic travel, medical and liability and baggage insurance. Information on what it covers is available in the insurance booklet we will send to you. We can also check with our insurance company if you have specific queries.

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  • Can I apply from northern Ireland/UK/outside Ireland?

    • Northern Ireland: we can take applications.
    • UK: We will pass your details onto EIL UK and ask them to get in touch.
    • Other: Please visit Federation EIL to find the nearest EIL office to you.

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