2020 Volunteer Project

2020 brings us to our first ABIN volunteer project at Mahendra School. This responds to a frequently expressed interest from ABIN supporters and we are excited to invite your participation.

We visited Mahendra school in Kandbhari, Nepal for the first time on our October 2018 ABIN Team trip. This was when we first met the students of the deaf program and visited the outdated current living and teaching facility. At that time, we voted to support Mahendra School with a grant of $6,000. Following our May 2019 trip to Nepal, ABIN team member Craig completed the initial blueprints for a new dormitory, kitchen and teaching facility for the deaf student program at Mahendra School. We are absolutely thrilled to be moving forward with this project now and we think it’s ideal for volunteers to join.

The project will run from September 15th to mid November, 2020. Volunteers would not need to be available for the whole of this period. Any commitment of at least one week would be welcome, and construction experience is not essential.

ABIN team members, Craig, Kyle, Rob and a few other participants with construction backgrounds will be onsite over the period of mid-September to mid-November. Voulunteers will be working alongside our Nepali construction crew led by Ganje, who is currently leading the construction team at our Him School project. Volunteer participation will be coordinated by ABIN and SODEC team members. Rob Tournour is looking forward to sponsoring one or two of his employees to join on this project and we know that other business owners have expressed the same intention.

We invite anyone who is interested in being a part of this project to contact us at volunteer@anotherbrickinnepal.com for further information.

Trek

The proposed trip won’t all be centred on the work at Mahendra School. There will also be an opportunity to go trekking in the Himalayas! We have organized a trek to Makalu Base Camp to take place during our volunteer project. Makalu is the world’s 5th highest mountain. We picked this trek for 2 main reasons. Firstly, the Makalu trek traditionally commences and ends in Kandbhari, which of course is where our volunteer build is happening. Secondly and perhaps of greater significance to us is that the 14-day Makalu trek is one that remains “off the trekking radar” in Nepal. Ultimately for us this means far fewer trekkers along the route, less “established” tea houses, some tenting, and best of all, still offers stunning Himalayan vistas and fantastic views of Everest as well.

Our trekking group will be limited to a total of twelve participants with current confirmed numbers at 5. The timeline for the trek will be Oct 16 to Oct 30. ABIN board members Kyle and Rob will be part of the group.

Further information on the trek can be found on this page of the website.

Questions and Answers

Q: What is the ABIN volunteer project? 

A: We will be constructing a 2,900 square foot dormitory for the children of the deaf student program at Mahendra School in Kandbhari, Nepal. 

Q: Where is Kandbhari, Nepal?

A: Kandbhari is in the Sankhuwasaba District which is one of 14 districts of Province No. 1 of eastern Nepal. The district’s area is 3,480 km² with a population of 159,203 in 2001 and 158,742 in 2011.

Q: How did ABIN become connected to this region?

A: ABIN has completed two schools in Nepal since 2017 and is currently constructing our third school. Our first project, Bandevi School, was completed in May 2018 and is located in the village of Aapchaur, Nuwakot district, Nepal. Our second school is Sharada School near town of Chainpur in Sankhuwasba and was completed in November 2019. In October 2019 we broke ground on our third school construction project. This school is Him school close to the village of Barabisi, also in Sankhuwasaba. This region is quite remote and somewhat “under-served” by NGO’s when put in perspective to other regions in Nepal. In fact, the first roads connecting the region to the rest of Nepal were not in existence until the mid-1980s. 

Q: How did ABIN become involved with Mahendra School?

A: I first visited the Sankhuwasaba region in Nov 2017 on my fifth trip to Nepal since 2015. The purpose of the trip was to seek out future projects that would fit with the ABIN mandate. After 4 days and some 6 villages it was time to leave and I was asked to visit Mahendra School in order to see the deaf children’s program. I did not have time as we were headed to Tumlingtar Airport however I promised that I would visit the school on my next trip. The next trip ended up being the ABIN team trip of Oct 2018 at which time we visited the school. At that time the team voted to give Mahendra School a grant of $6,000.00 to help with school supplies, some building repairs and the deaf program. Mahendra school has about 280 students in total. There are typically 15-20 students in the deaf program who live in a traditional mud and stone building some 250 metres across a busy road from Mahendra School. 

Q: When can I volunteer?

A: We are coordinating volunteer involvement between Sept 20 and Nov 10, 2020. 

Q: What is the minimum/maximum commitment required to be a part of the project? 

A: We will welcome your participation from a minimum of one week up to the duration of the project. 

Q: What will it cost me? 

A: You are responsible for all travel, accommodation, meals and personal travel insurance. Return flights from Vancouver to Nepal are typically about $1,200 to $1,500. 

– local flight in Nepal: $400 (required) 

– accommodation in Kathmandu: varies from $10 to $150. (Average for a decent room $25-50)

– accommodation in Kandbhari can be arranged from basic home stays with a Nepali family, or hotels $10 to $50 nightly. We have arranged many different options for you to choose from. 

– food costs $10 /$30 daily 

– we will have volunteer meet and greet sessions in Victoria in May, June and July to discuss options for all. 

Q: Do I have to pay to volunteer? 

A: No you do not, we do however encourage volunteers to raise funds to support the project. We suggest a minimum target of $1,000.00 per participant/family…..BUT, If you are unable to raise funds we still want you to be a part of this amazing experience! 

Q: Do I need to have construction/trades experience?

A: No you do not. All you need is a willingness to get your hands dirty, to learn, and most of all enjoy working with others. We have a number of professional construction volunteers who will be on site throughout the duration providing leadership and coordination. 

Q: What is the elevation of Kandbhari? 

A: Approximately 4,000 ft. 

Q: Will I require a visitor’s Visa to go to Nepal?   

A: A visitor’s visa is required and easy to obtain. If you live in Victoria you can get it in advance at the offices of Chris Considine, Honorary Nepali Consul General for Canada. Alternatively, visas can be obtained on arrival at Kathmandu Airport.

Q: what are the temperatures like in Kandbhari? 

A: While it can get somewhat chilly at night, the average daily temperature will range from 18 to 25 C

Q: Should I plan on bringing cash to Nepal?

A: Yes, bringing some Canadian or US dollars is a good idea, amount would be dependent on your length of stay 

Q: Are there bank machines?

A: There are some in Kathmandu but mostly its currency exchange shops where you can exchange Canadian, US and most other world currencies into local Nepali Rupees at competitive rates. 

Q: Can you pay with credit cards?

A: Some places in Kathmandu but mostly its cash that’s accepted, in the majority of places only cash, even if credit cards are advertised as being accepted this may not be possible due to technical / internet challenges

Q: Should I bring a tent, sleeping bag, camping mat?

A: Camping gear generally not required unless specifically going on a self-guided trek, most accommodation would be in simple hotels.  A good idea is to bring a silk or cotton sleeping bag liner to sleep in, blankets are generally provided in simpler hotels.  A camping mat is also a good idea for those who need extra cushion as mattresses can be quite thin in simpler hotels.  In general Kathmandu hotels are similar to Western comfort whilst hotels in outlying areas and homestays will be sparse on comfort when compared to the Western equivalent.

Q: Will someone be at the airport in Kathmandu to meet me initially? When I arrive in Kathmandu will ABIN facilitate transportation to local hotel, and help with arrangements for my domestic flight to Tumlingtar?

A: We are arranging for two Nepali friends of ABIN to assist with your needs if you feel you may require their assistance. 

Q: Will I be able to communicate as I do not speak Nepali?

A: English is quite widely spoken in Kathmandu, in outlying areas not so much, this is part of the travel experience, jump in at the deep end with Google translate and have a bash! Again, ABIN will have some local people on the ground who will be able to help in translating)

Q: What about health and insurance?

A: We do recommend that you visit your local travel clinic to be sure that you have any required immunizations for visiting the country. Travel insurance for volunteering is not expensive and you will not require supplementary “elevation” insurance unless you are considering trekking either to Makalu Base camp with ABIN or other treks taking you to higher elevations.

Q: Any special issues because this is working around children?

A: Because we are working in a school environment, we will require a criminal record check to be paid for by each person. 

Q: What are the opportunities to do some trekking while in Nepal?

A: Some of us will be undertaking a trek to Makalu Base which will commence on Oct 16 and last 2 weeks. There are currently 5 people confirmed for this trek with a maximum of 12 spots available. There are many other incredible treks that can be undertaken in Nepal and planned around your volunteer experience. We have posted more info on our planned trek here on the website

Further information

For further information on any aspect of the volunteer project, you can contact us on this special email address: volunteer@anotherbrickinnepal.com