RCDP Nepal

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9.2 / 10 after 221 Reviews Based on overall, support & value average ratings
Program website: http://www.rcdpnepal.org/

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About a year ago, I had decided that I wanted to volunteer abroad and began researching various programs! I was very interested in being in Nepal, so when I came across RCDP, I was very excited. Right from the beginning, Hom was in direct contact with me, offering great information, calling me on the phone to discuss any details and questions, and giving support. My friend Melissa decided that she wanted to join me in the adventure as well, but we needed to take a few months to plan, save and prepare before making a full commitment. During that time, we never felt pressured to join the program. Hom just kept in contact with us in case when we needed information or had questions and concerns!

It was time to travel to Nepal, we felt organized and ready to, and off we flew to Kathmandu! Hom was very specific about not letting anyone help us with our bags at the airport because they would ask for money in return! We were instructed to meet the people that had our names on a piece of paper, and stay with them! The only problem we encountered was that once we met with the driver who picked us up, people offered to carry our bags to the van! The driver did not send them away, so we assumed they were also with RCDP - but they weren't, and we were begged for money. All in all, not really a big deal - but just something to be aware of when arriving! You need to be in control of the situation, and just say NO.

Once we got to the hostel in Kalanki, we were met with Biplap and Porcas - both extremely friendly and hospitable! They contacted Hom for us, and he came to meet us the next morning, first thing, to discuss our upcoming project, trekking expedition, etc.! (I should mention that we did the Everest Base Camp trek, and volunteering in the Buddhist Monastery in the Himalayas - Pema Chholing) He was so kind, kept us very well-informed, and offered any help or advice we may need! He was very honest with us about problems in the past concerning our program, and how to avoid any issues! He also set us up with Jangbu - the coordinator for the volunteer program in the school in Ghat, and Pema Chholing Monastery - to also be our guide for the EBC trek. We were so lucky and fortunate!

Luckily we had perfect weather to fly to Lukla! It was a small plane (6 seats) filled with cargo! It was a smooth ride, and so beautiful sailing over the mountains! When we arrived, we had to wait a while for our bags - slightly confusing - but we were patient and figured it all out! Jangbu and a porter, Pemba, met us at the airport to walk us to his home in Ghat where we stayed that night! His wife and family were so incredibly kind! We got our first taste of the Sherpa culture, and felt immediately like part of the family!

Our trek to EBC and Kalapathar took about 12 days! We took our time, and Jangbu was very good about making sure that we didn't ascend too fast! Every lodge that we stayed at was clean and friendly! We were recommended to have 2000 rupees per day for food etc. Honestly, I spent about half of that for most of the journey, but once you got closer to the top, things did almost double in price! It just depends on how much you want to eat! Our trekking partner, Young, spent basically 2000 every day, but Melissa and I mostly spent around 800-1200. Melissa started feeling the effects of AMS pretty much from Namche. She felt a headache, loss of appetite, and tightness in her chest - but after spending a day there to acclimatize, she felt much better to continue up! By the time we got to Gorak Shep (the final lodge), most everyone was feeling head-achey, and not too hungry, but the excitement from being up there was so great, you just commiserate together!!

The trek was incredible, and a MAJOR recommendation as a part of this program! RCDP provided such an affordable and user friendly experience! I can't imagine doing it alone, especially during off-peak season! Jangbu was so helpful, and such a wealth of information!

After our trek, we stayed back in Ghat another night with his family, and it was as if we returned home! We felt so happy and welcomed! The next day, Jangbu walked us up to the Monastery (about an hour away) so that we could begin the 2 weeks of our volunteer time teaching English! Jangbu also allowed us to keep things from our trek, that we didn't need at the Monastery, in a bag in his house!

We got to the Monastery, met Lopen La (the high teacher there), and were given our information about the program. Because the 2 of us were teaching together, they had both classes meet at the same time so we were only responsible for an hour and a half of teaching per day, as opposed to the 3 hours we were expecting! We each managed our own class! The students (18 monks, ages 7-16), were split into two levels! Melissa took the lower level students, and I took the upper level students!

There were NO materials, and the teacher before us didn't leave any notes or lesson plans from what they had done previously. That was a bummer because we had no idea where to begin, so the first day was more of an assessment of skill level, etc. We made sure at the end of our time to leave detailed notes for the next teacher so they know what has been covered, and where to pick up from. Advice: please do the same to help your fellow and future volunteers...

With limited resources, and basically some paper, pencils, crayons (that we brought), a dry erase board and markers, and a few books left behind, we worked hard to develop fun, effective lessons for the students! The lower level class worked a lot on vocabulary building, and starting to put together phrases. My class spoke decently in the present tense - so we worked to correct grammatical mistakes, and began exploring the past tense, and future tense (towards the end). All the boys were very smart, and worked hard, payed attention in class, and picked things up pretty quickly! We created various games to use, and they got very into them!

We were extremely well-fed in the Monastery! Seconds and 3rds were constantly offered! You will NOT go hungry! There was a ton of free-time, so we enjoyed walking around the hills, hanging out in the kitchen talking to the adult monks, etc. As we were in off-peak season, the town below us, Phakding, did not have any internet cafes open as it had said in the information. We bought an NCell USB internet for my laptop, but the service was rare and slow. But we just chalked it up to freedom from the outside world, and absorb ourselves in the world we were in! Some days passed more slowly that others, but we had an incredible and special time, and when our time finished, we couldn't believe how quickly it had passed! This also was probably due in part to the fact that we were friends before the program, and we had each other there, instead of being alone!

One bit of advice I would give is, don't be afraid to ask for information. It can be quite confusing at times, because information is rarely offered. Some days we would wake up, go to morning prayers, have breakfast, and as we would begin preparing for our afternoon lessons later that day, we would find that there was a festival, and no class, or there would be confusion on whether to have class or not - maybe in the morning, maybe in the afternoon. Some things got lost in translation, but we just asked questions, and kept ourselves informed by remaining in control, and not sitting around confused!

We were invited into all ceremonies and festivals (of which there were 3 during our 2 weeks), which was very special! Everyone was very kind in helping us understand. We thought we would just sit and observe, but they allowed us to actually take part! We were given bags of offerings that were distributed amongst the monks, we took part in the ceremony, we were fed, blessed, and even met the Lama, who thanked us for our work with the boys! Such a special time.

Jangbu met us after our time in the Monastery to take us back to his home in Ghat for a night before heading back to Lukla! Again, he and his wife, and many of the other community members welcomed us back so kindly! We had a wonderful dinner, shared stories and pictures, and it felt like a big family reunion! We were so blessed to have that experience. Jangbu walked us to Lukla the next day, and we stayed in the Khumbu Lodge next to the airport so we would be ready for the first flight of the morning. Again, we sometimes felt left a little outside of the circle of information - but we waited patiently to ask what we needed to do next, and then were given the details of what we needed to do.

We did have to pay for our food and lodging that night in Lukla - we weren't sure if that would've been covered or not, but we were prepared just in case. The room was only 100 NRs a person. The next morning, Jangbu walked us to the airport at 6am to check in for our flight! We weren't sure if that was cutting it too close or not, but we just trusted Jangbu as he clearly knew more than us - and there was plenty of time, and it worked out perfectly - so don't stress!

The weather was perfect so once again, we found ourselves sailing over the Himalayas, waving goodbye to the snow peaks, and by 7:30 am we were back in Kathmandu! A journey of a lifetime, and now in retrospect, so surreal, but so moving to have had that experience!

We took a taxi back to the airport, which was 600 (they tried to ask for more, but Hom told us 600 max, so we were persistent until the driver agreed to take us at that price. Hom said he would pay us back!

We got back to our hostel in Kalanki, and Biplap, Porcas, and Saman met us there to welcome us back - and here we are!

This has been the most life-changing, incredibly beautiful, often challenging, but rewarding experience! Anyone interested in RCDP will not be let down if they have the same experience we had! We have spoken to many volunteers that we have met along the way, and everyone has their own stories - both good and bad. We, however, felt like we had serendipity every step of the way!

We began with the Everest Base Camp trek, and the did our volunteer time in the Himalayas, which was the perfect order to do things in! I can't imagine doing it in reverse! We were very lucky because it is August - monsoon season - but we had great weather almost every day! It typically rained a bit in the afternoon - and definitely at night, but the mornings were glorious! It got chilly in the evenings, and early morning, but never down right cold. The information we were provided with by Hom was pretty accurate, and we asked a lot of questions during our time here to keep ourselves well-informed throughout!

I cannot express enough what a wonderful and rewarding experience this was for us! As with any situation, any volunteer program, any travel abroad - the experience is what you make of it, and the attitude you take to what goes on! We met each minor adversity with a positive attitude, and honestly, have no complaints about anything!

I hope you find yourself in a situation equal to this, and please, do consider RCDP as a wonderful way to experience a new culture, and give something special back!

Program:
Location:
Posted: August 26, 2012
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10
By: timsing
Age:
32

6 weeks ago i arrived in Nepal. I thought i was going to collapse in the city but we survived. The pick up from the airport was good arranged. Fastly I recognized my name on a paper. Only two guys tried to bring my back to the car and they asked 2000 rp from me. So if you come to Nepal, don't give any money. Then i was brought to the hostel. It was a very nice hostel and everybody is very kind. We had some nice meals in this hostel and a good place to sleep. After three days I went for a jungle tour in Chitwan. Everthing was good arranged. From the bus trip until the food and hostels. We did a walk through the jungle and elephant ride and many more things. Very nice. After that i was brought 30 minutes away from the national park to a host family for teaching english in a monastery there. The family was very nice and when I arrived they brought me momo's. The mother in the house was a very good cook, every day she made something different. Also all the other people in the village were very open and kind. Teaching in the monastery was very nice also. The children are very disciplined and well willing to learn. Overall I had a very good time in Chitwan. After that I went by myself to Pokhara and did some trekking there and hang out around the city. Now I'm back in Kathmandu and ready to leave back home. It was a good time in Nepal

Program:
Location:
Posted: August 25, 2012
Overall:
10
Support:
9
Value:
9
Age:
20

After searching extensively for an affordable, trustworthy volunteer program on the Web, I decided to take a shot at RCDP Nepal... and I am very glad that I did! As this was my first time away from home alone, in a strange country, there was plenty of worry. However, the staff at RCDP Nepal made themselves very supportive and attentive to my needs.

The program supported my transport to/from the airport (my flight came in very late in the evening/early in the morning, and was very inconvenient; nevertheless, I was not let down!) to the project hostel, and from the hostel to my volunteer project. The host family I stayed with (arranged through RCDP) was extremely warm and welcoming, with facilities that suited my needs. They were also quite well educated in English, so communication was not an issue at all (this was one of my initial worries, as I did not partake in formal Nepali language training).

I also booked a trek up to Annapurna Base Camp through RCDP. The rates were very affordable compared to some other agencies I found on the web and in Kathmandu city. This was one of the most exquisite and memorable experiences I have ever had.

Overall, my trip went without a hitch, and for-the-most-part exceeded my expectations. I would recommend this program to anyone who wants an opportunity to experience Nepali life first hand, as well as anyone who wants to go on some of the most glorious scenic treks in the world!

Program:
Location:
Posted: August 15, 2012
Overall:
9
Support:
9
Value:
8
By: WKW91
Age:
21

Nepal has been an amazing experience for me. Its the first time I've ever traveled completely alone, but I never felt alone because you meet so many volunteers everyday going through the same thing as you. Staying at the hostel is a good way to meet everyone, but I must warn you, there are bed bugs. The orientation on the first day was informative and helpful. Hohm, was happy to adjust my schedule last minute so that I would not alone at an orphanage. He is the one to go directly to in order to arrange trips, change projects, and/or any help. The only complaint I have is the pick-up. Leaving the airport after traveling for hours, I was not able to find my name on a sign at pick-up. After a short freak-out I allowed someone to help me; he kindly helped me to get to the RCDP van. It turned out that name name was on the sign,but it was so small that you had to be close up to read it. Also, I suggest that you do sight-seeing on your own and on your own time; when I went with RCDP, it was poorly organized. I'm volunteering at Aashna Orphanage in Lamatar;it's RCDP's own orphanage. The best part is, simply, the family. The family feeling at Aashna is great. The kids immediately gave me a Nepali name, called me sister, and they were easily able to get close to. The kids are pretty independent, which is great. As volunteers we help with reading time in the morning, walk them to and from school, play with them, help with homework, and help clean on Saturdays. We have plenty of free time to relax and sight-see. Food is good, we get to help cook and we get as much food as we need during meal times. I hope you like DALHBAT, cause that's what you'll be getting everyday for at least two meals a day. Being at the orphanage really allows you to experience Nepali culture. Its fun to eat the way they eat as well as going to the local Hindu temple. I've really enjoyed myself here and feel apart of the family. I love the kids and am sad that my time with them is coming to an end.

Program:
Location:
Posted: July 27, 2012
Overall:
7
Support:
8
Value:
8
Age:
18

I have been volunteering in Uganda the past month and i can honestly say this has been the best time of my life. My host family have been more than welcoming and i have grown a strong bond between them. I highly approve of this organisation and am so happy to have met such beautiful people.

Program:
Location:
Posted: July 24, 2012
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10
Age:
20

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