Volunteering with All Hands Volunteers in Kathmandu was one of the most memorable experiences of our trip. Even though we were only able to stay for a week and a half, we were able to see the impact that All Hands has on the community.
We stayed in Kathmandu at a hostel, which also served as the All Hands project base. We shared the hostel rooms and bathrooms with about 60 other people. We slept, ate and worked with the other volunteers, I guess you could say that we became a family during our stay.
A typical day with All Hands looked something like this:
5:30 a.m. – WAKE UP!
6:00 a.m. – BREAKFAST. Breakfast usually included toast, oatmeal and one hard boiled egg (just enough protein to get us to lunch time).
7:00 a.m. – Report to the bottom floor to meet up with the team leaders and load up the supplies needed for the day.
7:30 a.m. – Teams are loaded into their respective vans and heading toward their work site for the day. Each work site varied and you were most likely on a different team everyday.
Noon – Lunch time!
4-4:30 p.m. – End of the work day and back to base.
5:00 p.m. – Dinner time!
5:45 p.m. – Group meeting. Each team leader spoke about their team’s work that day, any updates regarding the base, All Hands, or whatever else that was deemed important. Finally, each volunteer had to sign up for their work project the following day.
6:15 p.m. – The group meeting usually ended at this time and we were able to have some free time before curfew.
11:00 p.m. – Curfew! Everyone had to be back on base.
I know what you’re thinking…that is a pretty tough schedule. You’re right, it was, but I wouldn’t trade any minute of it.
I mentioned before that volunteers had to sign up for a new project everyday. There were multiple projects to choose from during our time in Nepal. The projects included rubble jobs, the 50 homes project, and the Temporary Learning Center (TLC) projects. One of my favorite projects I worked on was the TLC project.
Our lunch view from one of the worksites.
Even though we were just outside of Kathmandu on some of our worksites, it felt like a whole other world.
I was on a team of volunteers that built temporary learning centers to replace a school that was destroyed during the earthquake. We were able to build temporary buildings so the students could continue to attend school. Once we were finished with the structures, I thought we were done with the project, however, we went back to the same site a week later and painted the outside of the school with the students.
The TLC before we painted.
The team working hard to finish the structures.
It was pretty incredible to see the students’ faces light up once we got the first coat of paint on the walls. They immediately wanted to get involved, eager to paint their own images on the walls. It was an amazing experience to see how the transformation of the school uplifted the spirits of the students.
We painted pictures on two of the panels to give the students ideas of what they would like to paint.
The children drew pictures of what they wanted to see on the walls of the TLC.
The students started to paint pictures of their own.
The teachers were pretty proud of their students’ work.
Some of my favorite experiences from our trip are from volunteering with All Hands. Even though the life of an All Hands volunteer is not an easy one, the muddy clothes and sore muscles were well worth the grateful hugs and smiles.