Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
When is the right time to arrive?
Any time of the year, you are welcome to Nepal.We are very flexible and as such, you can arrive at a date which is best suited to your needs.
How do I get from the airport to the guest house/training facility?
Our representative will meet you at the airport holding a sign with your name. He will take you to the hotel.Please provide us your flight information as soon as possible so that a punctual pick-up can be assured.
How can I pay for the program fees?
Currently, we do not accept traveler's cheques or credit cards. We prefer payment in Euros but can accept Nepalese Rupees as well. If you wish to extend your volunteering program you must discuss this with VCN and pay the fee accordingly.
Do the fees have any insurance incorporated into it? Do I have to provide my own, if so what do I need to have covered?
There is no insurance and so we recommend that you get your own travel medical insurance to protect yourself in case of illness or lost or damaged property.
Is there a Training program?
Yes, depending on your length of stay, you will receive up to 7 days of Cultural and Language training from the VCN staff. The first phase of the training includes basic cultural and language information and will be conducted at our office near Kathmandu. The next phase of the training takes place either in Bhaktapur or Kathmandu village to help prepare you for village life. During your time in the village, the VCN staff will continue to provide language training. For more information about the training program, please review the Program Section.
Where will I stay during the volunteering period?
During the first phase, you will be in Guest House in Thamel, Kathmandu; for the second phase, you will move to either Bhaktapur or nearest village of Kathmandu where you will stay with a Nepali family.VCN will organize the transportation to and from your placement and ensure your traveling safe.
Where will my placement be?
Currently, we are sending volunteers to villages within the Kathmandu Valley, Chitwan, and its surrounding villages, the rural areas around Pokhara, Lumbini and Parbat.
Do you select my placement area?
Yes, placements are determined according to the program vacancy and volunteer’s skills. We do try, however, to take into account any special preferences/needs of the volunteers. If you have any preferences, please let us know as soon as possible so that we can endeavor to accommodate them. Your placement village will be finalized during your training week.
How can my family contact me during my placement?
Depending on your particular placement, your host family may or may not have a telephone within their home. Most villages will have one phone that can accept incoming and outgoing international calls. In addition, most placements are within an hour travel to a major city that provides email/internet and/or international phone service. In case of an emergency, your family/friends may contact VCN office. We will do our best to get a message to the individual as quickly as possible.
Does VCN staff person stay in the village with me during my placement?
VCN staff member will not be in your placement village throughout your stay. However, each village has a local point person to assist the volunteer with any issues that may arise in the village. If there is a problem that he or she cannot resolve, then they will contact VCN staff person to provide assistance.
During the placement, VCN staff person will provide site visits (the number determined by your length of stay), and/or will contact the volunteer via phone or email to provide regular checking.
What sort of Health Care Facilities is available?
In Kathmandu, health care is relatively good - and also very inexpensive. In your placement, however, the same cannot be said. Some placements are close to Kathmandu or Pokhara (another large city), but if you are in a village, there will be little to no access to health care. There probably won’t even be access to medication, so we recommend that you bring your own mini-pharmacy.
What is the weather like in Nepal?
The width of Nepal is only about 200 km on average, but within this short distance, the altitude of the land rises from lowly 60m to all the way up to above 8000m. Hence the weather depends upon the altitude of the place in Nepal. However, in general, Nepal has four climatic seasons: Summer, Monsoon, Autumn, and Winter.
Summer is from March to May. The temperature of this season fluctuates between 20 °C to 30 °C (68 °F to 86°F). Monsoon lasts from June to August. These are also the pre-monsoon months with occasional evening-thunderstorms and hot temperature. Autumn starts from September and ends by November. During this period, the climate is dry and mild with temperature fluctuating between 20 °C to 30 °C (68 °F to 86 °F). Winter starts from December to February. The morning and evening are very cold while the afternoon is pretty sunny. The temperature during these months rises from 15 °C to 20 °C (59 °F to 68 °F).
How much money should I bring with me?
It’s difficult to give an exact amount of money that you should bring. Costs will vary according to how much time you spend traveling on your own, whether or not you go trekking/traveling, if you drink beer (!), how often your phone home / use the internet etc.
That said, living in the village is very cheap as you will not have to pay for your main food or accommodation and it is very little for you to spend your money on! During your training and placement, you are responsible for any incidentals (sodas, snacks, etc.) that you may accrue.
What is the best way for me to access money once there?
There are ATM’s in Kathmandu and Pokhara. You can also exchange your money into rupees at a number of locations in Thamel, or cash traveler’s checks at a bank. If you’re in a pinch, there are Western Union facilities in both Kathmandu and Pokhara. There is NO credit/debit card system here - leave your card at home.
Is there anything I can bring with me that would be useful to your organization?
We would be very grateful for educational books (grammar, TEFL, science, health, etc.,) illustrated books, English novels, and children’s books. Also very much appreciated are donations of clothes, art supplies, and stationery.
What should I bring to my host family?
The Nepali people are very friendly, and giving gifts to the volunteer on the day of their departure is very common. If you would like to bring gifts for your family, below are some suggestions:
- A framed picture of yourself and your Nepali family (you can have this made while in Nepal)
- A small photo album with pictures of you and your family/friends from home
- A ’coffee table’ book of your hometown or country
- Posters, stickers or magazine pictures from your country
- Children’s books
- T-shirts (new) from your country
Whatever you decide to give your host family, please consider the next volunteer. Buying your family something elaborate or expensive will create an expectation in them to receive similar presents in the future. It is better to give them something sentimental (representative of your time with them or of your home country).
What Should I bring for myself?
This will vary depending on what non-INFO activities you want to participate in (trekking, white water rafting, etc.) and how much you need to be comfortable with your placement. With the exception of medicine, first-aid-kit and high-tech trekking gear, you can buy everything that you would need for your placement in Kathmandu (likely cheaper than in your home country). Here are a few suggestions:
- Sleeping Bag
- Hiking boots
- Flip flops
- Fleece jacket (during winter months)
- Light-weight cotton clothing (see Program Guide and Volunteer Room for details)
- Waterproof jacket (a fold-away windcheater is fine)
- (Women) Sarong (or you can buy a lungi cheaply in Nepal)
- Mosquito repellent
- Sun cream
- Water purification tablets and/or good quality water purifier
- First aid kit
- Flashlight (torch)
- Books about your country
- Photos of your family/ friends/home (essential!)
- Souvenirs for your family and staff from your country
- A few examples of your local currency
- Music CDs
- Basic Learner’s English/Nepali/English dictionary – for simple definitions (buy a Nepali dictionary on arrival in Kathmandu)
- Coloured pencils and pens, drawing books, stickers
- Inflatable globe
- Books on teaching English/English Grammar for your reference
What types of sanitary items are available in Nepal? What do I need to bring from home?
Most things are available here - shampoos, soaps, shaving products, toothpaste. It is recommended, however, that women bring tampons (if they wear them), as you cannot get those in Nepal. Hand sanitizer/ wipes should also be brought from home, as well as any name-brand/prescription medicine. Since rice is eaten with every meal here, some people may have constipation problems - volunteers should thus consider bringing fiber vitamins!
Is it possible to find English books in Nepal, or should I bring them from home?
You can English books in Thamel, both new and used, and the selection is wonderfully vast. Books tend to be around 500RS and you can get a 20% volunteer discount on used books if you bargain with the dealer. You will also get 50% back upon return of the book.
What vaccinations should I consider having prior to arrival?
You should consider the following vaccinations, however, please consult your doctor / local travel clinic for the latest recommendations regarding vaccines and Nepal:
- Hepatitis A & B
- Yellow fever
- Malaria tablets
What Makes a Good Volunteer?
VCN does not ask for any formal qualifications from our volunteers. All we ask is that you have a genuine desire to help people and are committed to seeing the Program through. A positive and flexible attitude will also help you to get the most out of your stay in Nepal.
If you are applying to teach English, a strong command of the English language is a necessity. Similarly, if you are interested in volunteering at a Health Post, some prior medical experience and first aid skills would be useful. If you are applying to teach computers at the Resource Centre, to the environmental awareness program, or income generation program, you should possess the skills and knowledge necessary to work within these programs.
The following attributes are vital for survival, regardless of the program!
- Good problem-solving skills
- Sense of humor/ability to laugh at yourself
- Willingness to share
- Enthusiasm to learn about new cultures
If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us via e-mail. We love to hear from you. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org - See more at http://www.vcnepal.org