Friday, 23 September 2016

The Mindset of Volunteering in Nepal

Firefly hostel in Kathmandu was filled with the most interesting characters around. I felt that I was the only genuine traveller among all the other do gooders. Everyone seems to be working on some sort of project or another or volunteering their time every now and then for the Nepalese cause. I felt guilty the first day, that I was there in Nepal to enjoy myself to travel and see Nepal hardship and the people who survives, the authentic Nepal since all the other wuss tourist will not come back so soon.

The second day thou I did not feel so guilty anymore.

The people was interesting in character but looking closely and listening to them talk all day about the holy aura and the spiritual release from helping all these poor Nepalese victims makes me wonder whom are they really helping. Themselves or the Nepalese victims.

Some were genuine and I respect them for it but they are a dime a dozen. The few that actually makes a different hides in the hostel where you could barely see them, waking up in the early morning to get out and make a difference while the rest boast of their good will achievement.

Into the Characters

No one could stand Leahcim. Leahcim from the USA – LA was an alcoholic that seems to be an expert in anything. He works for the NASA, NSA, CIA, a Finance expert, Engineer, Lawyer so and so. I have to say that he was a good talker. A salesman of the highest quality if only he was not trying too hard and making things up as he goes. One soon realized he was always beating around the bushes around technical things beyond the TV knowledge. I avoided speaking to him after 5 minutes.

Do you want money?

No ( My auto defence kicking in for it sounded like a start of a con artist trick )

Why don’t you want money? Give me your money then I will use it to save Nepal said Leahcim.

I pity the people who genuinely believe Leahcim, the damage he will drag them into would take years to be repaired. The not so well educated Nepalese workers in the hostel and some travellers from India was mesmerized by him so much that they had sit down meetings and discussion during the day about how to change the constitution of Nepal to save it.

Like someone once told me …. Some people should not be allowed to own a passport.

Then there was the druggies. There was about three of them I think but could have been more. Mickey, Drug-Mikial, and JD. Every evening I did not go without the perfect scent of marijuana. My constant rolling of cigarettes was mistaken as weed and people keep asking me for a hit only to be disappointed when there was no weed in it. Soon I was left alone in my own corner smoking and observing the zoo like character in the hostel.

Remember what I said about everyone seems to be Volunteering? Everyday one could wake up in the morning and just decide to Volunteer and the next maybe skip if one is too drunk for it. The hostel had a system to send volunteer where they are needed. I thought it was a cool thing to do till I found out what they were doing.

One fine day a lot of volunteer woke up in the morning and was driven to a village to dig a big pit to make a swimming pool. I later found out that the swimming pool would eventually belong to the hostel owner up and coming guesthouse. If only one would think that a swimming pool is a luxury item instead of something that is really needed by the village.

Another story I heard was told by Mickey. A group of them got so high one night and decided that the next day they were going to go to a school and help teach English. I thought they were just joking around but they actually did woke up and went to the school and tried to teach English. Mickey came back midday and was furious with the security guard that would not allow him and any of the group to enter the school grounds.

Their lack of knowledge of how to speak the local language Nepalese did not help with explanation to the guard. Mickey could not believe that his folks were turned away, that these poor uneducated Nepalese kids in school was not being taught properly. He was offended when the guard with his lack of English language said to him

Go home, your help is not required.

How could our help be not required Mickey ranted in the hostel. I felt that it was for the best that these kids learn from somebody else. A 20+ spoilt brat from abroad that only commits one day to teach would do more harm than good.

I considered volunteering many times even before I reached Nepal. Being in Nepal made me realized that I don’t want to do it anytime soon. To volunteer means requiring more sacrifice than just a few months of your life. A commitment more scare than a marriage or a vow to god.

If one volunteer to feel good of oneself than it will do more harm than good.

If one volunteer for he feels pity or remorse for others it will do more harm than good.

For excessive help will only cause people to be dependent on others. One can already see the side effects of the many volunteer and money funded for the Nepalese victims. Do they need help??? Yes … the question is will your help have a long lasting impact on their morals and way of living. Nobody knows.

I am becoming heartless one could say. I feel no pity nor pain in the suffering of others. I feel their loss but at the same time do not feel the need to help them for I see there is no need to. Walking around Kathmandu I saw all the ruins and fallen rubble and the local people banding together to clear them up, tear them down and some even rebuilding.

The effort warms my heart for I see no volunteers among them. One should built his own home and future with his own hands and not rely on others. One Genuine Volunteer was Sahara from South Africa which was doing clearing up works. She said that the local government do not allow any volunteers to go into ruin buildings to tear them down for it is unsafe. Only after the locals has bring it down do they allow the volunteers to sort out the rubble. Make sense I thought. While I explain the danger to her about semi fallen buildings and ways of demolishing it she realized it was more dangerous than she initially thought. I do hope she does well.

She was one of the very few that was genuinely helping out the locals. The crucial things that needed to be done before rebuilding, which was brute hard physical labour of clearing the rubble. She did it every day, waking up every morning for the last 3 months I think.

Some other projects are even more bizaar than the rest. If you think about it why is it, that there is always a new hut build out of bamboo and mud bricks everyday. Asanam was telling me of how they all went out to the village and built the huts for them. Where did they sleep before you came and built that hut? One will come to realized that not all of Nepal is in ruins. The over excessive volunteer that flood the place after the earthquake just prone the locals to abuse the goodwill by making these volunteers do things that are not really crucial.

Do they really need it ??? Maybe not but how do you turn down free help? Give them something to do I guess, make them feel wanted for they are the few visitors now in Nepal after the earthquake with spending money since the tourist are gone.

From my point of view … what these people really need is a donation of jackhammers, excavators, dump trucks and portable generator. The brute force labour of breaking concrete with a sledge hammer is just not productive. Giving 10 hand of volunteer I think one jackhammer will make much more progress than any time wasting activity.  

The motto of Nepal now is “We will rise again” and I believe they will with or without the help of volunteers.

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