(This article was translated into Nepali language and published in local newspapers The New Mechi Times Daily on 4th March 2014)
My name is Viera, I am 26 years old and I came from Slovakia, small country located in Central Europe. I came to Nepal two weeks ago for volunteering project. Me and my other friend from Slovakia will be volunteering in local NGO organisation Youth Action Nepal in Jhapa district for next few months. Our project is called European volunteering service (EVS) and is financed by European Commission.
There are several opportunities where to go volunteering though EVS project. People usually choose another member states from European Union. Many of my friends chose for their project countries like France, Germany, Great Britain, Turkey or Georgia. I wanted to go as far as possible and the project which will last as long as possible. After half year of waiting for the best match, I chose your country as my longterm volunteering experience. Why?
Since my childhood I was genuinely interested in world religions. As I am Christian and also came from Christian country I was truly fascinated by other cultures and mostly by their religions. There are no other widespead religions in Slovakia than Christianity so during my kid´s years, I was obliged to read and dreamed only about remote places and other cultures. During my high school and university years I became travelling addicted and I spent every summer holiday abroad working low paid summer jobs or volunteering. Two years ago, I got a chance to spent one semester at the university in Istanbul, Turkey. This was my first touch with muslim community and islam religion. I learnt a lot. Then I spent one summer month in Israel volunteering and I got closer to Jews and their religion of judaism. So I still missed two other world religions which are hinduism and buddhism. And then, I was chosen for a volunteering project in Nepal! I was more than happy to hear that news! I will go to a hinduism and buddhism country and I can get closer to these two fascinating religions in one place! Just a marvel
So now, I am here in the village of Durgapur, living with other Slovak volunteer in one very cozy house, surrounded by palm trees and cows (we don´t have palm trees nor openly and publicly moving cows in Slovakia). We came only two weeks ago but during this time, I had the chance to see real Hindu wedding in a village ……… (Deepak please write down the name:) which was super amazing experience for me, I loved the ceremony and all the colours, sounds and perfumes around! The ceremony of Puja was also super fascinating as the whole family gathers to celebrate together the end of infividual fasting. Right now, I am trying to learn step-by-step names of Hindus Gods and Goddes For now, Ganes seems as a most depicted God When we learnt a little about Hinduism at school we mentionned only Visnu, Brahma and Shiva as main Gods.
On Friday, we went together with our coordinator Deepak to the village ……… (Deepak please write down the name:) to see the village fair in the middle of real jungle. First of all, I have never been to a jungle before and never seen a fair like that. The organisers awarded us as a chief guests at the fair, we also had a small speech and we enjoyed a lot the venue and I was impressed by the nice Laxmi shrine hidden in the deep jungle and the story behind.
Last week, we went to the school ceremony of Balmiki Education Foundation. It was Decadum celebration. We didn´t understand any of those speech or talks or songs lyrics but we saw amazing performances, nice choirs and traditional dances. During the break, we strolled around the school facilities and some of students approached us and gave us unplanned school sightseeing tour. I was amazed by their english level and the willingness to showed and explained us everything what we wanted to know
Durgapur, the village we stay now is a super quiet and peace place. I lived my whole life in a town and this is what I needed. The change of the air. When we came two weeks ago to Nepal, we were 4 volunteers from Slovakia, now our two friends left for trekking in Himalayas and we stayed just two Slovaks. I must say, my life here is completely different from my previous life in Slovakia. Simply everything is different here and it takes time to get used to it but for now, I am enjoying it fully
I like your food, as I see Nepal is a rice country per excellence! Slovakia is a complete potato country on the contrary. Of course we use rice but not that often and definitely we should learn from you all those tasty rice meals! But the best meal I tried here so far is Chowmeay (please Deepak, write it properly, thanks!)
I like the climate here.It´s February now and I can freely wear flip flops (open sandals) and have a T-shirt. In Slovakia, I usually ski in this period of year and wear several layer and have boots, cap and shawl. The temperature back home often goes below zero.
We go biking often around Durgapur village and we always find dozens of kids and youngsters who want to practise english skills and talk to us. We also try our basic Nepalese and the conversations flourish
During small talks with locals, I often hear complaining about the poverty here and backwardness. It´s true that Nepal is one of the least developped country in the world and I came from the European Union but to be honest, the happiness of life is not measurable by money. I don´t feel like everyone here is only complaining about everything. I see happy faces and satisfied citizens. And I am happy to be here with you
I am looking forward for my next experiences in your beautiful country and I send you all my greetings.