Here is a great story on volunteering to help others. One of the Musas met Mike Demas in Los Angeles. He was interested in doing work abroad, so we introduced him to our world. The next time we heard from him he was doing amazing work with All Hands Volunteers. Mike is an inspiration and we hope his story will inspire our readers to see how you can make a difference, brick by brick. Thanks, Mike!
Man, time flies. It seems like just yesterday I was searching for tips on living in Nepal, yet it’s been several months since I arrived to the country to do NGO work. My time here with All Hands Volunteers has easily been one of the best things I’ve ever done.
I camp out every night at the All Hands camp, which is in a mountain village between Barabise and the Tibetan boarder. The school we’re working on is a 10-minute walk down the road. On most days, you can see the Himalayas in the distance.
Everyday I’m up by 6:30, work at 7:30 and wrap up by 4pm. The local Masons and project coordinator lead the work, and we help where directed. They’re really an impressive, hard-working bunch. Sometimes I think I’m working hard, but then I see people young and old carrying massive loads tied by a band around their foreheads. I am constantly humbled by the tenacity of everyday people here.
My first week, we did the first concrete pour for the foundation of the school. About 20 other volunteers and I mixed cement manually for 8 hours. It was exhausting, but my heart was soaring knowing that my contribution to this project lies at the base of the school. The site is right next to the temporary learning centers—corrugated metal buildings and tents where the kids learn. Each day as the kids walk home they wave at us, shouting: “Hello! What is your name?! How old are you?!” (the English they know).
We have three projects: building a reading room and bathrooms from scratch, two school houses and retrofitting a structure started by a Japanese aid group.
The fellow volunteers are a funny international coalition of people from all different backgrounds, including lots of Americans and Brits and some from all over. I never thought I’d be joking with a Frenchman and a Zimbabwean in a rural Nepali village.
The staff here is welcoming and accommodating, especially considering what limited supplies we have. Volunteers step up and assist with our work. All Hands gives us an excellent opportunity to grow and learn alongside seasoned professionals.
At this point, our buildings are over halfway completed. The past several months I’ve gotten to know some of the locals and am on a first name basis with many. We recently traveled to the house of one of our Masons. He walks two hours to and from work everyday.
Volunteering long-term has been interesting. I’ve seen many people come and go, and a few that have stayed. It’s inspiring to see a rag tag group join from all over the world because they have a desire to help. It’s also given me an appreciation for enjoying the moment as often as I can. Chances are, I will never see many of the friends I’ve made here again. We have lived and worked together so closely, but that must come to an end, just like our work.
One day I passed a woman and her son on my way to work. ”My boy will go to that school,” she said through gestures and broken English. I’ve never been so moved by such a brief statement.
I’m currently trying to raise money and awareness for our project. These guys run a fantastic organization. All Hands does not charge volunteers, so it’s with great pleasure that I share my fundraising page. All proceeds go directly to our specific project, though there are others in Nepal.
Click here to visit my fundraising page: https://give.hands.org/fundraise?fcid=871853
Mike Demas will return with a followup post when the work is done. Please check out his fundraising page!