Kathmandu, Nepal (12/14/2006) - - After endless flights, I arrived in the busy Kathmandu Metropolitan city. Hands for Help Nepal arranged my training and we start to plan my stay in Nepal. The first week, I had my daily Nepali language class with Premilla and did sight seeing in Kathmandu (Swambunath, Postbodinath...). The next 2 weeks I worked in an orphanage playing, helping with homework and getting dressed. There were about 17 kids between 6 and 12 and they were great! We had especially lots of fun with kites (during the Dashain festival many Nepali children buy and fly kites). Next I spent a week training at the Chapagaon Primary Health center in Chapagaon. The health center is privately owned and has many facilities not very common in governement health posts including a malnurished children program, a pregnant mother and birthing center, small pharmacy and many patients. I then spent time in Ghaleghon (a tiny village at 2300m just inside the Annapurna conservation area) working at the health post and staying with a \'Gurung\' host family who were amazingly hospitable. It was absolutely BEAUTIFUL! Views of Annapurna and Manaslu and more than enough Daal Bhaat (rice and lentils that is the staple diet for all of Nepal). Volunteers should remember, however, that in rural Nepal, showers, phones, electricity are often non-existant. Ghaleghon was no different. Making a phone call, for example, was a 3 hour walk round-trip unless you could track down a mobile. Having said that, if your expectations of the host families houses are reasonable (by Nepali standards), the rural areas were of the most pleasant, beuatiful, exciting places to stay - not to mention great places to get better at speaking Nepali (since in some areas, finding a Nepalese person who can form coherent English sentences is a challenge to say the least. It was very dependant on the area of course). I was sure thankful for my Nepali Language classes at this point! I had a short break during Tihar festival for a few days trekking then returned west 6 hours to Kathmandu. I was a little sad to leave, Ghaleghon after 3 weeks there, but there was lots to do when I return to Chapagaon (immunising infants for polio, visiting my sponsor child, practice English/Nepali with the young monks at the Buddhist Monastery and visiting the Anandaban Leprosy Hospital. I even tried my hand at harvesting rice by hand with my host family! The last placement of my trip was in Togarpa, east of Kathmandu a little ways out of the Kathmandu valley. Here I stayed on another farm and volunteered the government health post. It was at this point that I most saw some of the poor state some of the health posts in Nepal are in. The one staff member had minimal training (around 1 year), lack of supplies and waste disposal factilites. Quite hard to believe really. This particular health post has had no tape (for bandaging wounds that can\'t wrapped) for around 5 months, and sometimes go as long as 1 month without medicines for very common ailments (gastric problem account for close to 1/3 or more of the patients that visit many of the rural health posts, yet they quickly ran out of the medicines and will have to turn patients away for possibly weeks). Even more incredible, was finding needles that had the sharp embedded into Aloe Vera type plants nearby - children play with the needles the man told me ( and removed it and put it on the pile of waste next ot the healt post where they (attempt) to burn the waste. Togarpa was quite an experience, to say the least. At the end of my stay, in Nepal I have to say it was very rewarding. I saw, experienced so much and was able to contribute my time to worthwhie causes. On top of it, I built many relationship with both other volunteers and locals. I\'m looking forward to my certain return trip back to volunteer again!
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Hands for Nepal is a non-profit organization that conducts volunteer trips in Nepal.